SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors held a formal public hearing recently on the terms of an agreement through which the Water Authority would buy water from the Imperial Irrigation District.
The terms of the agreement were released for public review Dec. 11, 1997. Since then, Water Authority staff and board members have given presentations about the agreement to elected officials and legislators, as well as to community groups and the Water Authority's member agencies, and have held a public informational meeting. The Imperial Irrigation District has conducted similar public outreach activities.
Under the agreement's terms, IID would transfer conserved agricultural water to the Authority for at least 45 years. Either party could extend the agreement by 30 years. Transfers would total 20,000 acre-feet during the first year and would increase annually in 20,000 acre-feet increments until they reached a minimum of 130,000 acre-feet or a maximum of 200,000 acre-feet. If IID determines there is additional water available, the two agencies may agree to transfer an additional 100,000 acre-feet a year, starting no sooner than 10 years after the start of deliveries.
The water's cost would be determined through a formula outlined in the contract. The formula takes the price the Authority pays the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (currently the Authority's sole supplier) plus other MWD rates and charges and subtracts the estimated price (based on legal interpretations) for transporting, or "wheeling," the transferred water through MWD's Colorado River Aqueduct. Once that figure is determined, the price would be discounted from the MWD rate. The discount is 25 percent the first year, declining gradually until stabilizing at 5 percent in year 17 of the agreement.
In addition, if the Authority experiences water shortages as defined in the agreement, the Authority will pay IID a "shortage performance premium."
The agreement provides for a "price determination" process through which the price may adjust to reflect the market value of IID water. The redetermination process would start no sooner than 10 years after the start of deliveries, provided that an active California water market develops.
IID would begin transferring the water to the Authority after a series of contingencies are satisfied. The Authority must arrange a cost-effective and reliable conveyance method for the water. IID must meet specified targets for participation by its farmers. Both agencies must be able to reasonably mitigate environmental impacts of the transfer.
The San Diego County Water Authority is a public agency that works through its 24 member agencies to provide a safe, reliable water supply to more than 2.6 million county residents.
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