11/16/16 – IID calls for immediate action, roadmap for smaller, sustainable Salton Sea

IID Press Release, 11-16-16

Imperial Irrigation District officials, Tuesday, appeared before the State Water Resources Control Board to request the state board take immediate and definitive action before the end of 2016 to adopt a 10-year roadmap for Salton Sea restoration that will hold the State accountable in meeting its Salton Sea obligations.

“Action is needed now,” said Kevin Kelley, IID general manager. “There is currently no plan in place with goals and objectives, with enforceable metrics and with actionable timelines. These are required because already the (Salton Sea) Task Force’s actions are not keeping pace with the rate of expansion of playa exposure.”

The district noted there is currently no concrete program in place at the start of 2018 when playa exposure is expected to increase at exponentially increasing rates.

If there is no concrete program in place, Kelley added, the sea will face a 150,000-acre-foot shortfall in mitigation water under the state order required by the Quantification Settlement Agreement. With no action plan containing compensating measures, environmental and public health consequences “will begin to spiral out of control in 2018.”

Further, the failure to adopt such a roadmap would, in IID’s view, preclude the district’s ability to participate in Drought Contingency Measures being discussed on the Colorado River. “IID’s participation hinges on the adoption of a clear 10-year plan for the Salton Sea, which has far reaching impacts to both Southern and Northern California water agencies,” Kelley said.

IID appeared before the State Water Resources Control Board in Sacramento at Tuesday’s public workshop, along with representatives from the County of Imperial, where the water board received updates regarding the status of actions identified by the Salton Sea Task Force.

The district and Imperial County propose that the State of California adopt a “roadmap” for the restoration of the Salton Sea that will:

  • Identify interim acreages for habitat restoration and/or dust suppression for each year between 2017 and 2025 and timely construct the projects to meet those interim acreage targets.
  • Provide the necessary resources to construct those habitat restoration and/or dust suppression projects.
  • Includes the development of 500 megawatts of geothermal projects, including the 250 MW already called for by the federal government, no later than 2025.
  • Include in each year’s budget, from FY 2018 through FY 2026, an amount sufficient to construct the projects identified in the roadmap.
  • Conduct quarterly oversight hearings, convened jointly by the State Water Resources Control Board and the California Air Resources Board.
  • Require all state agencies to streamline permitting processes for habitat restoration and/or dust suppression projects.

Tuesday’s Salton Sea workshop by the State Water Board was in response to a petition IID filed in November 2014 with the SWRCB. For more information, please visit www.iid.com/petition.

State Water Resources Control Board Public Workshop 11/15/16 – Final Road Map [PDF] 11/10/2016
State Water Resources Control Board Public Workshop 11/15/16 – Comment Letter – Salton Sea [PDF] 11/10/2016