U.S. Water News Online
SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Water Authority is continuing its discussions with the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) on the possible use of MWD's Colorado River Aqueduct to transfer water from the Imperial Valley to San Diego County.
The Authority and the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) are negotiating a cooperative water conservation and transfer agreement that would begin in 1999 and last between 75 and 125 years. The transfer water would come from the Colorado River; the Colorado River Aqueduct is the only connection that carries water from the river to San Diego County.
According to Authority General Manager Maureen Stapleton, MWD's proposal breaks new ground in the dialogue between the two agencies. MWD's proposal, said Stapleton, acknowledges for the first time that delivery of water resulting from an Authority-IID transfer program is feasible, and that such an agreement would benefit MWD's entire service area, which encompasses six Southern California counties and 16 million people.
MWD also acknowledged that such a transfer would help California to limit its consumption of Colorado River water within its entitlement. In recent years, California has exceeded its allocation by about 20 percent.
The Authority's response to the MWD proposal centers on three areas: the quantity of water to be transferred, the cost of using MWD facilities, and support for MWD's effort to change the way the Colorado River is operated.
The MWD proposal provides for the Authority to transfer 200,000 acre feet of water through the Colorado River Aqueduct each year. About half of this water could result from an existing transfer agreement between MWD and IID, if the Authority chooses to assume all costs of the program.
In return, the Authority proposes to secure 200,000 acre feet of additional transfer water from IID and deliver it through the Colorado River aqueduct. The Authority would evaluate the existing MWD-IID agreement before deciding whether to increase the transfer total by an additional 106,000 acre feet.
"It's important to keep in mind that an Authority-IID transfer agreement would bring additional water to Southern California," said Stapleton. "Water from the MWD-IID program already has been figured into the region's future supply."
The Authority's response highlights its commitment to pay its fair share of MWD's costs through fixed payments, water rates, and charges to deliver transfer water through the Colorado River Aqueduct, Stapleton said.
The Authority will work with MWD to determine what that "fair share" will be, she said. The two agencies also will work together to calculate a dollar figure for an Authority-IID transfer that would benefit the region, and MWD would subtract this amount from the Authority's bill.
The MWD proposal calls for the Authority to support MWD's ongoing attempt to change Colorado River operations in a way that will make more water available from the river and allow MWD to bank, or store, water for future use -- goals the Authority has long supported.
"Banking is a critical part of the effort to maximize the efficient use of Colorado River water in a way that will benefit the region and the state," Stapleton said.
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