IID Denies Request for Forbearance for Arizona Water Proposal



Lake Mead

EL CENTRO – The Imperial Irrigation District (IID) Board of Directors voted to deny the proposal for Intentionally Created Surplus (ICS) water for the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD).

The proposal is a request for consideration and approval of an exhibit to the 2007 Lower Colorado River Intentionally Created Surplus Forbearance Agreement, to which IID is a signatory, for CAWCD’s program to create extraordinary conservation ICS.

The ICS water is intended to increase surface elevations in Lake Mead and to help avert lower basin shortages when Lake Mead’s elevation declines below 1,075 feet.

The two-year plan proposed for 2015 and 2016 would provide approximately 80,000 acre-feet of water per year by the CAWCD and 15,000 acre-feet of water per year by the city of Phoenix to be put into Lake Mead.

The plan would help the CAWCD have the flexibility to pull out water when they need it and not be charged for overruns.

“IID is held to a higher standard,” said IID Board President Stephen Benson. “We need the same flexibility as Arizona and the other water agencies.”

“We can’t seem to get cooperation to meet our needs to make sure our water users are served,” said Director James Hanks. “We need the high standard that is on us removed. For example, we had a couple of years with overruns. It cost us $20 million. Before that we had years of under-runs totaling 800,000 acre-feet that we didn’t get credit for.”

“If we are going to put water into ICS storage at the lake, we need the flexibility to do what we need to do,” said Benson.

“At one point the IID had the rights to seven million acre-feet of water,” said Director Bruce Kuhn. “To facilitate and get the Boulder Canyon Project built, we gave up 3.8 million acre-feet. To facilitate the 4.4 million acre-feet for California, we came up the Quantification Settlement Agreement. If they want something, they come to us. We have been stewards of the water. All we would like is the flexibility to store some water and not be unnecessarily fined.”

The IID board voted to deny the forbearance.

In other business, Director Norma Galindo revealed that she had sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting information on the August 5 spill into the Animas River from the Gold King Mine treatment plant.

“I requested information on the possible ramifications the spill will have on us as recipients of Colorado River water,” said Galindo. “As of today, we still have not received a response. A few days ago in the news, there was an allegation of a cover-up in the investigation by the EPA. Regardless of whether the impact is large or small, we deserve answers as water users.”

“If that had been a private person or company who created a spill like this, you would still be hearing about it,” said Kuhn. “You would be hearing of all of the monitoring that is taking place and it would continue for years. I expected that this would be swept under the carpet and they are.”