EL CENTRO – The IID Board voted to continue the 2015-2016 mid-year fallowing program already initiated by the March 2015 solicitation.
IID has completed more than a dozen successful fallowing programs to generate conserved water to fulfill annual water transfers for the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA). This includes Salton Sea mitigation requirements, payback of over runs, and to create extraordinary conservation for intentionally created surplus (ICS) to help manage IID’s annual 3.1-million acre-foot Colorado River entitlement.
The Fallowing Subcommittee met of March 25, 2015, and suggested that since existing fallowing programs have conserved enough water to meet 2015 QSA obligations and fallowing concluding in 2017, IID should eliminate the mid-year to mid-year fallowing program and transition to calendar year programs for 2016 and 2017.
The Water Conservation Advisory Board met April 9 and voted to transition to the calendar year fallowing term, as well.
The payment rate for the 2015-2016 fallowing program will continue at the $175 per acre-foot.
The IID Board also voted to put one half of the ICS storage of conserved water into Lake Mead and the other half into Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California.
Records indicate that IID met all of its water transfer obligations and payback requirements for 2014 through fallowing programs and on-farm conservation measures. IID qualifies for the ICS storage of conserved water up to 25,000 acre-feet per location, according to Water Manager Tina Shields.
The current estimated amount of ICS water is 37,669 acre-feet.
If all of the ICS water was put into Lake Mead, the water most likely will not be available for IID to use because of the impending water shortage in the state.
Storage in MWD would be somewhat easier to access, but an emergency water shortage may prove to be just as a difficult situation for IID.
After much discussion, the board decided to put the ICS water to into both locations.
“Because we’re in a drought both in the state and in the river system, I would like to split the ICS water between both Lake Mead and MWD,” said IID Director Bruce Kuhn. “We can put half in Lake Mead and half here at MWD. We can call on that if we need to. This is probably the safest we can be to do what’s right for the river and what’s right for the State of California.”
Director Matt Dessert also weighed in with a comment.
“We are currently at an approximate 62,000 acre-foot under run,” said Dessert. “We are near the end of the wheat season and there is not a strong Sudan export market. I think we are in a pretty good position as far as water use goes for the year. If we don’t take this step to store some conserved water in some type of safe harbor and be smart about it at this time, I think the board will come under scrutiny by stakeholders and others that we had the opportunity to do the right thing and we didn’t.”
“To be in the position we are now in is a testament to some damn good conservation and some damn good farming on our farmer’s part,” said Kuhn.