Desert Sun: Norma Sierra Galindo wins third term on IID Board.

Despite big money donations from farmers opposed to the IID water policies to serve all Imperial County residents, Norma Sierra Galindo leaves her opponent in the dust.

Norma Sierra Galindo

Imperial County voters re-elected Norma Sierra Galindo to the Imperial Irrigation District’s board of directors, rejecting a bid from Carlos Zaragoza, who was backed by a handful of farmers seeking greater control over the region’s Colorado River water.

With all precincts reporting early Wednesday, Galindo had won 53 percent of the votes, compared to 47 percent for Zaragoza, a property tax consultant. Zaragoza declined to share his opinion on the Abatti lawsuit during the campaign, saying only that he would “support the law as determined by the courts.” He received at least $5,000 from farmers who had previously supported Imperial Valley First, a group that has fought IID over water rights and campaigned against sitting board members in several elections.

Zaragoza received $1,000 in campaign funds from Jimmy Abatti, Mike’s brother and the immediate past president of the Imperial County Farm Bureau, who has previously sued IID several times over its water policies. Zaragoza also got $1,000 each from farmers Kevin Grizzle, Mike Morgan, Jack Vessey and Doug Westmoreland. Separately, Morgan gave $5,000 to Imperial Valley First, which registered to campaign against Galindo.

The complete article can be accessed on the Desert Sun website by clicking here.

Commentary (from AgAlert): Proposition 3 water bond represents important step

Below is a snippet from an article published on the California Farm Bureau’s AgAlert by Justin Fredrickson, environmental policy analyst for the California Farm Bureau Federation.

“Indeed, it’s no accident that numerous, solution-oriented conservation groups strongly endorse this bond, along with representatives of agriculture and business, flood-control districts and water districts throughout the state. Conservation groups supporting Proposition 3 include the Nature Conservancy, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Planning and Conservation League, Sustainable Conservation, California Trout, Natural Heritage Institute, Ducks Unlimited, California Waterfowl Association and Save the Bay.

“That’s because Proposition 3 includes funding for conservancies, recycling, water conservation, stormwater capture, fish, waterfowl, Salton Sea restoration and forest management.”

You can read the entire article here.

LA Times: As states near deal on Colorado River shortage, California looks at water cuts of as much as 8%

As states near deal on Colorado River shortage, California looks at water cuts of as much as 8%

After years of stop-and-go talks, California and two other states that take water from the lower Colorado River are nearing an agreement on how to share delivery cuts if a formal shortage is declared on the drought-plagued waterway.

Under the proposed pact, California — the river’s largest user — would reduce diversions earlier in a shortage than it would if the lower-basin states strictly adhered to a water-rights pecking order. California’s huge river take would drop 4.5% to 8% as the shortage progressed.

With occasional years of relief, the river that greens farm fields and fills faucets from Colorado to California has been stuck in drought since 2000. A shortage declaration has been looming over the seven-state basin for more than a decade, only to be narrowly averted time and again when rain and snow in the upper basin pushed reservoir levels above the trigger point.

Nearly two decades of drought in the Colorado River Basin have taken their toll on Lake Mead, a major source of water for Southern California. (John Locher / Associated Press)

But flows into Lake Powell — one of the Colorado’s two massive reservoirs — fell to a little more than a third of the average for the April-through-July period this year. And September’s inflow was negligible, less than 1% of the average. Looking at those numbers, federal officials say the U.S. Interior Department could declare a shortage in 2020.

“It’s pretty clear we’re in a deepening long-term drought cycle,” said Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which has been importing Colorado River water to the region since the early 1940s. “It’s in everybody’s interest to prevent the system from cratering.”

The basin’s entire storage system is 47% full. Lake Powell, which stores runoff from the upper basin and releases it to Lake Mead, is 45% full. Mead, the source of Southern California’s river water, is 38% full.

The Interior secretary has never declared a shortage on the Colorado. But it has been known for years that the river is over-allocated. The basin states divvied up the flows in the early 20th century — a period that in hindsight was unusually wet and presented an unrealistic picture of what the Colorado could produce year in and year out.

Diversions are regulated by a complicated system of river compacts and water rights that call for Arizona and Nevada to take the first cuts in times of a lower-basin shortage. California, with some of the oldest river rights, is further down the line.

The sprawling Imperial Irrigation District and other farm districts in southeastern California control roughly 75% of California’s 4.4 million-acre-foot share. Imperial is the single largest user on the entire length of the river, which starts at the Continental Divide in the Colorado Rockies and has an average annual flow of roughly 15 million acre-feet.

Metropolitan has nearly doubled its base allocation of 550,000 acre-feet through agreements with Imperial and other irrigation districts that fallow crop land and sell their unused river supplies. Those deals would help cushion Metropolitan, which serves Southern California, if a shortage is declared. (An acre-foot is enough to supply more than two households for a year.)

Metropolitan would also benefit from water it has been able to bank in Lake Mead under 2007 drought guidelines that have allowed states to leave unused portions of their river allocations in the reservoir. Under the previous use-it-or-lose-it rules, states had to take their full allocation every year.

The 2007 framework specified that the Department of the Interior would declare a shortage when Lake Mead’s elevation hit 1,075 feet. Nevada and Arizona, which have rights junior to California, would then start delivery reductions.

Under the proposed drought contingency plan, Arizona and Nevada would continue to take the first cuts, which would be deeper than outlined in 2007. At the same time, California would reduce its river diversions when Mead levels hit 1,045 feet — earlier in the shortage than previously envisioned.

California’s cuts, shared by Imperial and Metropolitan, would increase as the lake level dropped but be no greater than 350,000 acre-feet a year.

Arizona is still working out the details of how to apportion its cuts among in-state users. And the lower-basin water districts have yet to approve the drought plan, which parties are hoping to finalize by December.

“I’ve got my own people asking tough questions. But I believe we can do it,” Metropolitan’s Kightlinger said.

A drought plan will not end debate among lower-basin users, who are confronting the fact that their use is outstripping the long-term supply.

“It’s not sustainable,” Kightlinger said. “We have to push it down or grow supply” with other sources.

The complete article by Betine Boxall can be read here.

Calipat Sides With The Coalition

From KXO Radio:

Written by George Gale Published: 26 September 2018

(The City of Calipatria the latest to support the IID)…The City Council adopted a resolution Tuesday.

The resolution supports and joins the Americus Brief to be filed by the Imperial Valley Coalition For Fair Sharing of Water in the Abatti Versus Imperial Irrigation District litigation. The litigation deals with the IID’s water rights for water distribution in Imperial County. The Abatti Lawsuit contends the District does not have the right to distribute the water and that the water rights belong to local growers. The District contends they hold the water in trust for all water users in the county. The City of Calipatria is the latest to side with the coalition and the Americus Brief they plan to file in support of the IID’s legal efforts. The Coalition says they will seek support from the County Board of Supervisors at one of their October meetings, either on the 2nd or the 9th.

Unemployment in Imperial County

The following is from a daily email, The Nooner, by Scott Lay (please note that information has been deleted from the original email for space):

CA ECONOMY: On Friday, we received generally good employment news for the Golden State. The unemployment rate remained steady at 4.2%, That’s a decline of 0.5% from July 2017. July saw a net game on 46,700 net jobs from June. The labor force increase by 113,000, which combined with the unemployment rate, paints a very good picture.

Of the eight economic sectors tracked, only construction (-1,200) and financial services (-900) experienced declines. The top three month-over-month increases were in numbers were professional and business services (15,100), trade, transportation and utilities (11,200), and leisure and hospitality (9,500).

Five counties with the lowest unemployment in July (not seasonally adjusted):

  1. San Mateo: 2.3% (-0.9% from July 2017)
  2. San Francisco: 2.4% (-1.0% from July 2017)
  3. Marin: 2.5% (-0.9% from July 2017)
  4. Napa: 2.9% (-1.0% from July 2017)
  5. Sonoma: 2.9% (-1.0% from July 2017)

Five counties with the highest unemployment in July (not seasonally adjusted):

  1. Imperial: 19.3% (-4.9% from July 2017)
  2. Colusa: 10.5% (-1.1% from July 2017)
  3. Tulare: 9.3% (-1.5% from July 2017)
  4. Kern: 8.1% (-1.6% from July 2017)
  5. Merced: 8.1% (-1.6% from July 2017)

Not by much: Colorado River system to stay out of shortfall status through 2019

The following excerpt  is from the Arizona Department of Water Resources. You can read the complete article here.

Not by much: Colorado River system to stay out of shortfall status through 2019

As news reports have indicated, the “August 2018 24-Month Study” of the Colorado River system, released Wednesday by the Bureau of Reclamation, tells at least two big water stories for the Southwest.

For one, it illustrates that the Lower Basin will not be in a shortage for 2019. According to the Bureau’s “most likely” scenario, Lake Mead will finish 2018 about four and a half feet above the “shortage declaration” cutoff, which is 1,075 feet in elevation.

A shortage declaration would trigger a set of criteria in the 2007 interim guidelines calling for Arizona’s deliveries of Colorado River water to be reduced by 320,000 acre-feet.

In addition to those anticipated conditions – inspired, largely, by decades of drought and a chronic structural deficit in annual Lower Basin deliveries – the 2018 August study tells us much about the complex relationship between the system’s two great reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

Continue reading the article here.

 

 

Sacramento Bee: Delta tunnels cost soars to nearly $20 billion when accounting for inflation

The estimated cost of the Delta tunnels project, Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial plan to re-engineer the troubled hub of California’s water network, has jumped to nearly $20 billion when accounting for inflation.

Tunnels backers say the higher cost reflects the impact from inflation over 16 years, not cost over-runs or design changes, and isn’t expected to hurt the project’s ability to move ahead.

Read the complete article here.