EL CENTRO â€“ The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Supervisors approved the initiation of the 2014 calendar year fallowing program solicitation process Tuesday, August 20, at their regular meeting.
IID has adopted the fallowing programs in the past to generate conserved water for the annual water transfer delivery schedules for the San Diego County Water Authority, Salton Sea mitigation, and payback of previous yearâ€™s overruns of Colorado River water.
The IID receives a 3.1 million acre-foot consumptive use cap on Colorado River water.
250,000 acre-feet of additional fallowed water will be required in 2014 to meet transfer and payback obligations.
The program will be for the calendar year 2014, starting January 1, and will continue to limit eligibility to a maximum of three out every five years. Previously, it was two out of four years.
The Water Conservation Advisory Board recommended not using the early start option.
The payment rate for the fallowed water is $125/af.
The Board also approved fallowing of the eligible Western Farm Lands, which is about 13,000 acres. This would yield approximately 65,000 acre-feet of water.
Eligibility will be based on current fallowing eligibility requirements. Land rent would continue to be paid by the tenants to the IID for the term of the fallowing program. Tenants will be paid $75/af based on the current fallowing program regulations.
The fallowing program is voluntary.
â€œWe need to get this water paid back,â€ said Director James Hanks. â€œThe Bureau has their foot on the back of our neck until we get this taken care of. Until this water is paid back, it puts us in a very precarious position from a strategic standpoint if a shortage is coming.â€
IID President Matt Dessert expressed some frustration on the payback situation.
â€œWe need a sense of urgency on this matter,â€ said Dessert. â€œWe always seem to be behind the ball or our backs against the wall on water and power decisions and positioning. This has to stop. These are not easy decisions, but there has been a lot of thought and consideration put into this. This program is voluntary now, but if there is no participation, we will have to make it mandatory to fulfill water transfer and payback obligations.â€
Fallowing will end in 2017.
â€œOne of the reasons for acquiring the farm property was for cap management,â€ said IID General Manager Kevin Kelley. â€œIn this case, itâ€™s that big number weâ€™ve got to make in 2014. Every effort is going to be made for widespread participation. If we can get as close to 10,000 of the 13,000 acres as possible, weâ€™ll be ahead of the game.â€