Judge affirms QSA – Imperial Valley water to San Diego County

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all american canalA judge has approved  the QSA water deal between the farmers of the Imperial Valley and the cities of San Diego County — hailed as the largest sale of water from farms to cities in the nation.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly on Wednesday affirmed his tentative ruling from June, which upheld the 2003 deal between the Imperial Irrigation District and the San Diego County Water Authority.

The deal has never stopped being controversial here in the Imperial Valley and has been attacked in court by the county Board of Supervisors, environmentalists and local farmers.

But Connelly rejected all arguments against the deal, including that it could damage the Salton Sea, which depends on agricultural runoff from the Imperial Valley.

Although the judge’s ruling could be appealed, San Diego County water officials hailed it as a protection for their county’s $188-billion-a-year economy.

San Diego County is blessed with mild weather and a gorgeous landscape but is virtually devoid of groundwater. It is a desert next to the ocean.

For half a century county officials have hunted for a way to get an “independent” supply of water and decrease the county’s dependence on the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Imperial County enjoys the largest allocation of any agency in the seven states that depend on the Colorado River. This has been an historic right by being the first of many to utilize the Colorado and building their own canal system, even before the U.S. Government came in and built the All-American Canal. Farmers were braving the valley’s boiling summer temperatures a century ago to pull water from the river, long before California coastal cities saw the river as a source of water.

The sale of water has continued during the years of legal wrangling. This year, the sale will involve 180,000 acre-feet of water a year, enough for 360,000 families. by 2021, the sale will reach 280,000 acre-feet.