From the Desert Sun: California farm baron offered to drop water lawsuit — if his family got a special exemption

This was posted on the Desert Sun’s website yesterday. A must read…

A lawsuit in California’s Imperial Valley could determine who controls the single largest share of Colorado River water in the West — a few hundred landowning farmers, or the elected five-member board of the Imperial Irrigation District.

But a newly obtained document shows that the farmer who filed the lawsuit,

Water runs through the Imperial Valley

Mike Abatti, was willing to sidestep that explosive legal question — if he and his family got a special exemption from a plan that could have limited his access to Colorado River water.

Abatti “would be willing to dismiss the present litigation with prejudice in exchange for a binding commitment from the IID to supply Mr. Abatti, his brother James Abatti, and father Ben Abatti with the water they reasonably need for farming,” Hejmanowski wrote.

If the three Abattis had received such an exemption, it could have angered other farmers — if other farmers ever found out about the deal.

“Mr. Abatti is willing to consider different structures and terms for documenting (the proposed settlement) so that it poses the least potential difficulty for the IID in regard to other persons,” Hejmanowski wrote.

IID didn’t accept either settlement offer.

The entire story can be read by clicking here.

By Ray Dorantes at KYMA: Over 200 million dollars for Salton Sea restoration project

EL CENTRO, Calif. – Over $200 million dollars from Proposition 68 and state funds are being invested in the Salton Sea. State officials at a press conference said they’re working to prevent a regional environmental disaster.

California State Senator Ben Hueso and Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia hold a press conference in El Centro.

West Shores Vice-Mayor Mark Gertz said it’s about time because the area is becoming a major health hazard.

“Because the lives of the residents and the flora and fauna of the Salton Sea basin are life-depending upon that. The local high school in Salton Sea has four times the state level of asthma. School children in mecca are getting nosebleeds and asthma much higher than the state levels,” Gertz said.

Senator Ben Hueso, 40th Senate Disctrict, said he understand the problem.

“It’s not just a Riverside or Imperial Problem, it’s a statewide problem that people should be very concerned about not addressing,” Hueso said.

State Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia explained the allocation of the funds.

“It’s broken down into a 170 million dollars that will go directly to the Salton Sea management program for this first phase of this 10-year plan. It is 30 million dollars that will go directly to the Salton Sea authority to begin these efforts immediately. And then ten million of those will go towards the 20 million-dollar cost of cleaning up the new river,” Garcia said.

Gertz appreciates the amount but said that it’s not enough to solve a problem that has a price tag in the billions.

“This will not fund all of the ten-year plan. To not address the sea at large is going to incur long-term disastrous results,” Gertz said.

You can read the complete story and watch a video here.

Who Controls Distribution of the Imperial Valley’s Water?

While looking around the Internet we came across this great article on The Desert Review by Brian McNeece. Please read it as it is a very important take on the water in the Imperial Valley.

Some locals have asked, “What does it matter who controls the water?”  It matters a lot.  Farmers rightly claim that they contribute the majority of value to

Farmland in the Imperial Valley

the local economy. They also claim that if they were to control the water, the Imperial Valley would be in good hands….

If you are one of about 500 farmers here, being in control of the water sounds mighty sweet, but if you’re among the other 179,500 residents of Imperial County, you might want those decisions to be made by elected representatives sworn to uphold the public good.

Link to the article at The Desert Review is here.

 

Colorado River reservoirs expected to be less than half full by Sept. 30

The Colorado River Basin has been in drought for 18 years; how is this going to affect the water that the Imperial Valley receives in years to come?

Colorado River reservoirs expected to be less than half full by Sept. 30

“We’re in uncharted territory for the system,” said Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the water wholesaler for greater Los Angeles, which relies on the Colorado River for a portion of its supplies.

“Everything is new, and it’s all bleak. None of it is positive.”

Click here for the complete story.

From the Daily Mail: A ghost town in the making

With sandy beaches and warm water year-round, Salton Sea in California was the perfect family getaway of the 1950s and 60s. It attracted Hollywood’s elite – Rock

Hudson water-skied there, Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis visited their friend Guy Lombardo’s yacht which was moored there. The Beach Boys were members of the North Shore yacht club, Sonny Bono was a visitor and President Dwight Eisenhower golfed there.

Business was booming – hotels, motels, casinos and yacht clubs popped up along the lake’s 116-mile shoreline helping to create enclaves including Bombay Beach and Salton City. Residents and developers quickly reaped the benefits of the influx.

Click here to read the complete article.

Reclamation Commissioner calls for action on Lake Mead “contingency” plans

Brenda Burman is the Bureau of Reclamation's 23rd Commissioner

One of the most important issues in the recent election of Imperial Irrigation District Directors is the management of IID’s Colorado River water. That water is held in trust by the IID for all of its users. There are some who would like to strip the duly elected directors of the right and power to allocate the water. But doing that doesn’t just impact the Imperial Valley, all seven Basin States that use Colorado River water would be effected too. Drought Contingency Plans must be developed in order to avoid federal mandatory restrictions that would reduce water allocations if Lake Mead drops below emergency levels. 

The newly appointed commissioner of the federal Bureau of Reclamation spoke about the need to work together. Read it here: Reclamation Commissioner calls for action on Lake Mead “contingency” plans | Arizona Department of Water Resources

Water Education Foundation’s Lower Colorado River Tour 2018

Explore the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from a myriad of sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

Eventbrite - Lower Colorado River Tour

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour.

This 3-day, 2-night tour travels along the Lower Colorado River from Hoover Dam to the Salton Sea and the Coachella Valley. Along the way, experts discuss challenges related to what is the most contested, beloved for recreation and meticulously managed rivers in the USA.

WELL 2018 Annual Conference

WELL is convening a state-wide educational water conference on March 22-23rd, 2018 in Sacramento for California local elected officials. Local elected officials can make a difference for all Californians by taking the necessary steps to understand the dynamic of California water to assure adequate clean water for our communities, protect our natural resources and our local economies. Our hope is to facilitate understanding towards comprehensive long-term water policies that will sustain California’s economy and quality of life. We invite you to participate!

Call us more more info!
323-349-0661

DesertReport.org: Can Importing Water From The Gulf Of California Save The Salton Sea?

The following excerpt is from an article was posted on March 11, 2018 at DesertReport.org.

Michael Cohen, Senior Research Associate, Pacific Institute:

A lot of people are saying you need to import water from Mexico to save the Salton Sea, but there are several challenges. It would require permission of the Republic of Mexico, which is currently not very fond of our President. Even at the best of times, when there is clear mutual interest such as delivering water to the Colorado Delta, it’s taken five full years to reach agreement between the nations.

There are ecological challenges. Theoretically you could put a pipeline or channel below the biosphere core area and avoid harming a pretty productive estuary. There’s also the Vaquita porpoise, the most endangered marine mammal in the world. You wouldn’t want to bring them into whatever pipeline or canal you’re developing.

Photo above: Bombay Beach on the east shore of the Salton Sea – with the water already far off in the distance. Photo by Craig Deutsche.

The second challenge is cost: the California Department of Water Resources estimated the cost at $30-40 billion dollars. That’s because one of the key challenges with any kind of import plan is that, along with that water you’re importing a lot of salt – and you need to get rid of it.

If you simply propose to bring in water and not export salt, what you do is address the dust control problem, but not the habitat challenge. It’s fairly easy to bring in a lot of water without having to worry about pumping that water
back out. So if your intent is simply to have a brine lake where Salton Sea is, you can do that.

So there are the issues of cost, salt balance, and the Mexican negotiation – all of which by my estimate would take 20 to 30 years before you get the solution you’re looking for. The Salton Sea will be completely different than it is now.

 

Does the idea of importing water to the Salton Sea distract from what can be done now?

Right, so that’s the major problem. Even if you could snap your fingers and all of a sudden there was a restored Salton Sea and you could bring in all this water, in we’d have a real conversation about whether it is worth all this additional money to have a whole Salton Sea? But when people continue to point to this solution, it distracts from what we really need to be doing right now, which is investing money in public health and protecting the environment and rebuilding habitat at least along the shoreline. And then hopefully get some kind of deeper North Lake where you can get a real fishery habitat.

Those things seem to be achievable in what should be the relatively short term, versus under the very best circumstances seeing some resolution with the import plan.

The other potential challenge is people say “oh we’re going to desalinate the water with all this geothermal resource at the Salton Sea and put some of that water back into the Sea.” But Geothermal is not cheap, and building desalinization plants is capital intensive. But the bigger problem is that once you get higher quality there, someone will buy it.

The snow pack in California is terrible, and the current forecast for the Colorado River Basin is one of the worst in the past 20 years. So there’s just not a lot of good quality water in California or the Colorado Basin. So If you produce good quality water, someone’s going to want it – which means that it’s not going to go into the Salton Sea anyway. So if you desalinate water, what you’re really saying is you’re going to sell that water to somebody else and the Salton Sea is going to be a brine sink.

 

Do you have any other thoughts?

There is so much opportunity out there. I wish they [the state] could get their act together.

The complete article is available here: http://www.desertreport.org/?p=2060