SAN DIEGO -- The proposed water conservation and transfer program between the San Diego County Water Authority and the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) is part of California's plan for future Colorado River water use, says the state's director of water resources.
David Kennedy told the authority board of directors that he has assisted in development of a plan that will allow California to live within its Colorado River entitlement.
Kennedy said he has informally distributed a draft of the "California 4.4 Plan" to representatives of the other six states with Colorado River entitlements for their comments. The plan is so named because California is entitled to 4.4 million acre-feet of Colorado River water annually. The state regularly exceeds that amount by about 25 percent.
Kennedy hopes to present the final plan to the California Legislature and the other six Colorado River states this month.
The plan features a "conceptual water budget" that includes programs designed to reduce California's use of Colorado River water and at the same time ensure that the Colorado River Aqueduct continues to run full to coastal Southern California.
This water budget includes a conservation and transfer program that would move 200,000 acre-feet of conserved agricultural water from IID to the authority and its 2.6 million San Diego County customers.
Kennedy also discussed the response by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) to the "California 4.4 plan." He noted that MWD's proposal contains several controversial items. One reallocates 200,000 acre-feet of water from IID, the Palo Verde Irrigation District, the Coachella Valley Water District, and other agricultural contractors to MWD.
Another item quantifies just how much water each of the agricultural agencies should receive annually.
Kennedy said he told MWD officials that such provisions are "probably beyond the bounds of what MWD can expect to gain in negotiations." He also noted that he already has presented a draft version of the "4.4 plan" to the six other Colorado River-using states. As such, MWD's counter-proposal represents a step back for the district.
"What MWD has proposed is backing away from this water budget to some extent," Kennedy told authority directors.
Despite MWD's proposal, Kennedy said he expects that the "4.4 plan" is "probably where we will end up, with a few changes," as far as California's formal proposal to the other six states is concerned.
The San Diego County Water Authority is holding parallel negotiations toward realization of the water conservation and transfer program with IID. Talks with IID have resumed, while discussions with MWD have continued since January 1996.
The authority and IID selected retired judge and Middle East negotiator Abraham Sofaer as a convenor and facilitator for the discussions.
The authority and IID last year agreed to draft terms for a program that would begin in 1999 and last for a minimum of 75 years. Future negotiations will build on the draft terms. Under those terms, IID would transfer at least 200,000 acre-feet to San Diego County by 2008.
The San Diego County Water Authority, a public agency, works through its 24 member agencies to provide a safe, reliable water supply to more than 2.6 million county residents.
Return to the U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water News Homepage