2/9/15 – State water board sets Salton Sea public workshop for March 18

IID Press Release, 2-9-15

The State Water Resources Control Board gave notice on its website Friday of a public workshop to be held Wednesday, March 18, 2015, in response to the Imperial Irrigation District’s petition regarding the state’s unmet restoration obligation at the Salton Sea. The workshop soliciting public comments on the status of the sea and the future of the nation’s largest agricultural-to-urban water transfer begins at 9 a.m. in the Joe Serna, Jr.-Cal/EPA Headquarters building in Sacramento.

In its petition filed with the state board on Nov. 18, 2014, IID offers a specific process and timetable for the parties to the 2003 Quantification Settlement Agreement, the landmark water-sharing pact that has enabled California to live within its annual entitlement of 4.4 million acre-feet from the Colorado River, to reach consensus on the most realistic and sustainable Salton Sea restoration plan. If this facilitated dialogue should fail to produce a consensus plan, IID is asking the state board to consider making the state’s obligation to restore the Salton Sea a condition of the water transfers under the QSA.

The state board’s notice points out that such a condition “may not be appropriate,” citing the possibility that making the water transfer contingent on Salton Sea restoration could have the effect of unraveling the QSA, which, it says, “would have significant water supply implications for the state.” Still, the notice does acknowledge that, “IID has brought an issue of statewide importance to the board’s attention, and the board is interested in hearing input from the parties on what role the board can and should play to protect the beneficial uses of the Salton Sea …”

The announcement of a March 18 public workshop follows last week’s news of a settlement agreement between IID Board of Directors, the Imperial County Board of Supervisors and the county’s Air Pollution Control District that will bring to an end the long-running QSA coordinated cases litigation. As part of its settlement with the county and air district, IID has agreed to supplement its petition to include the two agencies as key stakeholders in the workshop and planning process before the state board.