SAN DIEGO -- Gov. Pete Wilson has signed Senate Bill 1082, a bill by Sen. David Kelley (R-Idyllwild) that encourages the transfer of conserved agricultural water from the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) to the San Diego County Water Authority.
"This shows the governor recognizes the proposed deal between the Water Authority and IID will benefit not just our agencies, but the entire state by helping it live within its water means," said Chris Frahm, chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors.
SB 1082 requires the state Department of Water Resources director, David Kennedy, to recommend the terms and conditions of a wheeling agreement between the Authority and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) if the two agencies were unable to reach an agreement on the issue by Aug. 15. Wheeling occurs when on agency conveys water through another agency's facility.
In anticipation of the bill's expected approval, Director Kennedy had been working with the agencies involved in the proposed IID-Water Authority, in conjunction with his development of the California 4.4 plan. The 4.4 plan proposes methods that will allow California to live within its allotted 4.4 million acre-feet of Colorado River water -- something Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit has called for the state to do. The proposed transfer of water from IID to the Water Authority is one of the plan's key elements.
Talks between MWD and the Water Authority regarding a wheeling rate are continuing, spearheaded by Director Kennedy. SB 1082 calls for a 30-day waiting period, after which Kennedy is to issue a formal recommendation with regard to the appropriate terms and conditions of the transfer.
"Director Kennedy has brought a wealth of expertise to the negotiation process," Frahm said. "He is held in high regard by all those involved. I believe that if anyone can recommend a solution that is fair to all parties, he can. I am hopeful he will be able to make his recommendation at the conclusion of the 30-day waiting period or soon thereafter."
Since January 1996, the Water Authority has been negotiating with MWD, a water wholesaler to 27 agencies, concerning the delivery of conserved water from IID to the Authority through MWD's Colorado River Aqueduct. The negotiations have been stalled over MWD's proposed wheeling rate, which is much higher than the rate allowed by state law.
The proposed water transfer would move 200,000 acre-feet of conserved water annually to San Diego County by 2008, according to draft terms reached by the Water Authority and IID last year.
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