EL CENTRO – In an effort to better manage the district’s 3.1 million acre-feet allotment of Colorado River water, the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors adopted a revised Equitable Distribution Plan (EDP) Tuesday that authorizes an annual system of apportionment.
It also authorized staff to move forward with a mid-year 2013 pilot program implementation effective May 1.
The Board voted 3 to 2 in favor of the water apportionment and revised EDP.
Directors Norma Galindo and James Hanks were the dissenting votes.
“I want to make sure that the water users get the water they need,” said Hanks.
Director Bruce Kuhn said, “I want the members of this audience and the farm community to know that if this does not work, I will be the first one to blow it up.”
“Staff has been asked to develop a prorated apportionment based on historical first quarter consumptive uses,” said water manager, Jesse Silva. “We anticipated this will be approximately 3.7 acre-feet per acre for the May 1 through Dec. 31 timeframe. All authorized cropland will have the same apportionment for the balance of the calendar year.”
In the coming days, the district will be contacting all landowners and tenants to inform them of the mid-year pilot program and prorated apportionment along with other implementing procedures in accordance with the adopted and revised EDP.
Staff will also continue to work with the Water Conservation Committee to develop operating procedures and refine the details of an agricultural water clearinghouse to help facilitate the movement of water between high water-use and low water-use farmland.
“The district is committed to making sure our agricultural users have access to the water they need to sustain crops,” said Silva. “We will continue to work with our growers and are committed to revisiting any items that need to be addressed.”
To proactively address drought and overrun conditions, the IID Board of Directors, in January, authorized the formation of the Water Conservation Committee to recommend solutions to minimize the possibility of overruns, while integrating a system of annual apportionment with the conservation programs already in place or being developed by the district.
Facilitated by water attorney Charles DuMars, the Water Conservation Committee recommended the May 1 start date and used feedback from the local agricultural community to recommend the final revisions to the EDP.
In 2011, the district diverted 82,662 acre-feet more than its approved order and is required to pay back 62,000 acre-feet of it in 2013, with the balance of 20,662 acre-feet due in 2014.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s water use projection report indicates that IID overran its approved order by 134,292 acre-feet in 2012. The entire 2012 overrun will need to be paid back in 2014 due to drought conditions that have lowered the elevation level of Lake Mead.