EL CENTRO â€“ IID general manager Kevin Kelley gave a response concerning media accounts in Arizona concerning drought contingency planning on the Colorado River.
â€œIID has been in talks with other Colorado River contractors and more recently, other Section 5 contractors in California, about ways in which IID and other California agencies could come up with a package in response to the declining elevation at Lake Mead,â€ said Kelley. â€œSome media accounts in Arizona have been based on hypothetical cutbacks that California agencies would voluntarily take to ease the cuts that Arizona and the Central Arizona Project are already legally bound to take at certain elevations.â€
â€œI want to stress, for the record, that IID is only interested in storage,â€ continued Kelley. â€œIID and, I believe, other California agencies are committed to being part of the solution. For IID, any participation would be contingent on a path forward on the Salton Sea. That is, a roadmap that the IID board and their constituents could believe in. That would have to occur in 2016.â€
â€œThere is no agency on the river system with a greater stake in preserving the viability of the lower Colorado River delivery system than IID,â€ said Kelley. â€œAt the same time, there is no agency that could have a more positive impact on elevation under the right conditions.â€
â€œIID has no interest in voluntary cutbacks that donâ€™t apply towards storage that we can bank on in the future,â€ continued Kelley. â€œMedia accounts of a California commitment are erroneous and irresponsible. The only way IID could participate in a drought contingency plan is if we brought a proposal for the board to vote on.â€
â€œIID will not discuss cutbacks until two prerequisites are assured,â€ said Kelley. â€œOne is that whatever contribution IID were to make, it would apply to storage in IIDâ€™s name behind the dam. Two, that the continuing stalemate at the Salton Sea be resolved. That can only come about from the state of California.â€
â€œI do want to commend the Department of Interior and this reclamation commissioner, who has shown real leadership in dealing with the state,â€ continued Kelley. â€œThey recognize that this dilemma at the Salton Sea makes it impossible for IID to even engage in the kind of possibility thinking that we are reading about in the Arizona newspapers.â€