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.

More Criticism for Comite Civico-Students Found To Be At Risk-Comite Civico Takes No Action – Desert Sun: Who monitors the monitors? Toxic air alerts went unnoticed

An air monitor at Seeley Elementary School show extremely unhealthful levels of particles in the air, but no one alerted neighbors of school leaders. Now, the same program will be coming to the Coachella Valley.

Neighbors of Seeley Elementary School might have been breathing toxic amounts of dust for weeks during the summer, based on the readings of an air monitor put up at the school by a nonprofit. Despite the sky-high measurements — more than 40 times what the World Health Organization considers a healthy level for PM10 air pollution — no one took action and neighbors were left unaware of the danger.

Now, Comite Civico del Valle, a nonprofit based in Brawley that operates these monitors, is using state funds as it expands its network of monitors to the eastern Coachella Valley, where the same thing could happen again.

Comite Civico says the organization’s goal is to turn community concerns into research — and not necessarily action.

“Everything we did was based on community concerns,” said Humberto Lugo, who manages the organization’s air-monitoring program. “Community concerns (were) that there was not enough regulatory data and not enough air-quality data out there to really make informed decisions about your everyday activities and kind of just understand what’s happening in different neighborhoods throughout the Imperial County.”

Lugo said the organization shares the data it collects through its system of monitors with research partners and legislators, who can use the information to advocate for better regulations and enforcement on sources of air pollution. But in the short term, it is unclear who is tasked with informing the community when monitors show dangerously high pollution levels, just like the one in Seeley did over the summer.

PM10, particulate matter that is 10 micrometers or smaller, could be dust particles or moisture small enough to lodge in the lungs. Six to 10 particles that small can fit across the diameter of a human hair, according to the California Air Resources Board.

According to Lugo, his team was aware of the over 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter averages of PM10 recorded by the school’s monitor, but chalked it up to the construction of a new gym on campus. Up to 20 micrograms per cubic meter is considered a safe level by the World Health Organization.

School was out for the summer, and no action was taken. But as students began filing in for their first week of school in August, the monitor continued to register levels over 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter of pollution. Administrators, educators, parents and students at Seeley said they had no idea.

When The Desert Sun reached out to staff at Seeley Elementary, school officials were unaware of the purpose of the monitor on their campus.

However, they are aware of the often dangerous levels of pollution in the area, and the school has used a flag system to create awareness of the day’s air quality levels. Based on the air quality, the school would raise a flag, colored green, yellow, orange or red to indicate whether it was safe to be outside.

Even though they had a monitor on the campus, Seeley School District Superintendent Cecilia Dial said her staff relied on regional, less granular data provided by the county.

Dial said Lugo’s organization never explained how the monitor could be used by the school or where staffers could access the data it collects. “The monitor was just there as another access point to gather data,” Dial explained.

Students leave Seeley Elementary School on Monday, September 25, 2018 in Seeley, CA. The school is a site for a air pollution monitor operated by the nonprofit Comite Civico del Valle. (Photo: Richard Lui/The Desert Sun)

Please click here to read the entire article.

The Desert Review: IID and country residents rise up to stop an unwanted solution

The following clip is from an article in The Desert Review, posted on their website on September 28.

IID Director Jim Hanks mentioned during the August 27 meeting in Brawley that the organizations needed to be more careful in their presentations.

“This is why you saw a lot of defensive people here,” Hanks said, referring to the majority of the people in the room. “You were talking about the drinking water, and then you were talking about water in the canals that run off from the fields. Runoff from the fields are not in the canals, those are in the drains.”

The lack of knowledge of Comite Civico investigators of the details of water delivery and water waste from fields led many to doubt the scientific expertise of those gathering information.

The organizations said they planned on using citizen-scientists to provide the data.

IID Water Manager Tina Shields said she questioned the methodology of collecting water samples.

Shields said the proposed study by Comite Civico and the University of Washington failed to employ trained experts to collect accurate samples, and that without proper training, the collectors could even self-contaminate the samples.

The IID went further, claiming the organizations sought to usurp the scientific work local agencies were tasked to conduct. The IID charged that Comite Civico has failed to produce a scope of work for their study.

Many people who attended the informational meetings held in late August questioned the organization staff’s apparent lack of any formal scientific training.

The complete article is available by clicking here.

City allegedly misused anniversary event money

This is disturbing on so many levels. Calexico needs to do something about the mayor misappropriating funds that were meant for the City’s 100th anniversary. Reminds me of the scandal the police department had a few years ago when the FBI was confiscating files. Maybe law enforcement should be looking at this…

Read the story by Roy Dorantes (below) that was posted on the KYMA website on August 24 yourself, and be sure to watch the video by clicking here. Additionally, please call Calexico City and ask for a copy of the report (hope I see it on Facebook soon!).  Their number is (760) 768-2110.

City allegedly misused anniversary event money

CALEXICO, Calif. – A Calexico economic commissioner said the city used funds collected for the city’s 110th anniversary in April for other events not part of the celebration.

Commissioner Ben Horton said, “Financed the Mayor’s Summit which ran up to about $3,638 which the public was not aware of this, which the public was not permitted to be involved with.”

Calexico Mayor Maritza Hurtado

A Calexico city official who didn’t want to be named admits some money donated for the anniversary was used for the mayor’s conference. An event closed to the public, but he said it was approved by the sponsor who donated the funds. He showed us an email as proof.

Horton questions why the community was not informed of that.

“The public was under the impression that this money was going to be used exclusively for the 110th anniversary.”

The city official also said no city employees worked on the event. Horton disagrees with that statement.

“And then, I find out that city employees were used to work on the event, which originally the 100th event was supposed to be no cost to the city, which there was cost to the city and hours or comp times

Horton questions why the expense list was not made public sooner.

“I would say the public was misled, and they were misled to the point that the money was used for other activities that they were not aware of,” Horton said.

The report that shows how the money was spent item by item is freely available to the public at Calexico City Hall.

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.

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.