IID sets public workshop to discuss 2013-14 water conservation measures

"The Colorado River is the lifeblood of local communities from the peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park to the mouth at the Sea of Cortez, supplying water for millions of Americans, irrigating our farms, and helping to power our cities and towns," said Ken Salazar, past Secretary of Interior.

Expecting new and more challenging negotiations to face the Imperial Irrigation District over Colorado River water in the future, the IID Board of Directors has adopted a set of parameters that define the scope of the district’s role in the coordinated operations of the river.

The parameters, spelled out in a resolution unanimously approved by the board Monday, protect the district’s right to allocate water, to negotiate with others on the river, to safeguard the Salton Sea, and to build coalitions and alliances with those of similar interests.

“IID must be able to effectively negotiate, and have it clearly stated for the entire basin, the nature of the district’s relationship to its water rights,” said Erik Ortega, IID board president. “This will be important as new Colorado River guidelines will go into effect in the coming years.”

IID has a priority right to 40 percent of the water available to the Lower Colorado River Basin. The district has worked for well over five years to develop the parameters of the Drought Contingency Plan, which may remain in force until 2026. Despite IID’s efforts, the district is not a party to the DCP because it does not provide any contingency for the Salton Sea.

The district’s resolution states that the linkage between the Colorado River and the Salton Sea is inextricable and the problem is one that both basins must now reckon with as a community of aligned interests.

“No single agency has a greater stake in the continued viability of the river system and Lake Mead,” said Ortega. “And at the same time, no single agency is in a better position to contribute to, or provide a response for, the river’s changing hydrology due to persistent drought conditions.”

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