|EL CENTRO – The Board of Supervisors easily approved the 2012 Imperial Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWMP) and agreed to participate in future water planning efforts and updates.
Basically, the IRWMP is a comprehensive approach to determine an appropriate mix of demand and supply management options that provide a long-term, reliable water supply at the lowest reasonable cost and with the highest possible benefits to customers, economic development, environmental quality and other local objectives.
This plan is important for the Imperial Valley to secure future grants concerning money allocated to Colorado water users. Mojave and Coachella valleys both have plans in place and have received needed funding to store and conserve their water.The state is expected to mandate such plans because it makes normally differing, regional interest, cooperate. Such proof was Tina Shields of the Imperial Irrigation District reporting to the Supervisors about the need for collaboration.
“If this plan is approved by all the stakeholders we become eligible for a 5.2 million dollar grant. But we need to come together with a plan that has a project we all agree has top priority. We need all three agencies to come together, state that our top priorities for the grant money have true regional benefit and the other agencies agree.”
The IID has authority over all surface water and has needs for storage to ‘bank’ water during years of sufficient rainfall against years that the Colorado is lower than normal. The County has jurisdiction over the ground water, which is now becoming apparent to be quite plentiful. There are estimates of millions of gallons of groundwater and some of it has been tested “as ‘sweetwater’ while other is quite moderate in salinity.
One of the criteria to winning Proposition 84 grant money is shovel ready projects. Three top contenders are the Spirulina algae ponds, however the proposition calls for matching grants and the $300,000 highly scored project can’t meet the financial matching funds. It was mentioned that other funds could be used.
Another, high priority project for storing and conserving water was through the City of Imperial, the Keystone Water Reclamation project. This work is valued at $59 million dollars which far exceeds the $5.2 left in the once billion dollar grant fund. Imperial is looking to divide the project into parcels that will come under the desired funds.
The third project mentioned was the water contract between the City of Brawley and Ormat, the geothermal plant. They have a plan to reclaim water used to produce geothermal steam, but again, with a 6.5 million dollar price tag, it also exceeded available funds. Engineers are looking for ways to reduce the cost.
These three projects vie for each other as the main project to put forward to the state of California, but also competing for the remaining $5.2 million dollars are the Mojave and Coachella valleys since they too qualify by using Colorado river water.
None of this will be possible if all the Imperial Valley stakeholders don’t agree to the IRWMP plan, with the supervisors voting 5-0, they are the first to put their seal of approval on the long awaited water plan.