Again? Yes. In 1901 when a massive water right was appropriated on Colorado River by visionary folks, Imperial Valley was to become an important new source of food. The ability of farmers to use this water beneficially creating the largest irrigation district in the country and also created profound intrinsic value in first priority water.
Unfortunately, this amazing feat has never been appreciated or recognized as great. It truly was. The pioneers created this productive Valley with hard work and diligence.
I recognized this extraordinary potential in 1982 as a way to protect its water right. I realized drought was a large potential and combined with dramatic growth, the demand for water would far exceed the existing supply. This meant much higher prices, which would mean much greater competition for new water. This required a new mentality for management. The 1984 plan was the answer.
I convinced John Benson and Bill Condit to look at this opportunity and the future. They did and agreed to allow me to design a plan to spend $700 million to rebuild and modernize the irrigation system. This would conserve 600,000 acre feet which was to be leased to MWD at $400 per af with escalation clause tied to the retail price of water, which would be over $2,200 today with over $20 billion income received to distribute to Valley folks. Current income of $1.2 billion a year would make Imperial Valley great again. While providing vital new water to 60 million Colorado River users. Leadership role required for win-win.
Water Conservation is the defining concept of our era. It is the most powerful political strategy. It is the most opportunistic economic path, the best environmental policy, the most desirable financial and engineering structure and the most beneficially socially. Conservation would enable the Valley to be a world leader in creating good for society and doing well for itself. Creating intrinsic value for its citizens while protecting from waste and unreasonable use legal challenges.
The IID was handicapped in 1988 when a new director destroyed this opportunity and replaced it with a TINA (there is no alternative) philosophy which exists today. Today with the vision board of 2020, a new philosophy TAMO (there are many options) can again place the Valley in a leadership role to preserve its precious life blood-senior water right of 20 percent of Colorado River. This is socially responsible and poetically powerful.
With epic historical long-term drought in play, an existential threat exists to this valuable asset. 60 million people in seven Western states face shortages and possible rationing. What chance do you think 200,000 Imperial Valley folks have politically to survive? IID is creating Surplus water — what is its fate as seven states suffer historical damage.
I will be presenting in future letters essential history, true stories and facts, with new choices and alternatives to allowing Federal rules and regulations to be changed to take your water. Without well thought strategy from the most experienced and knowledgeable team to partner with IID as a counter force and power base, the Valley may not become great again, it may be dried up. Stay tuned.
Thomas C Havens
President American Water Resources, Inc