County to host workshop on water import projects
Last fall the California Natural Resources Agency invited proposals for projects involving importing water from the Gulf of California or the Pacific Ocean to the Salton Sea to restore the lake.
Eleven organizations that submitted proposals to the state will present those plans to the County Board of Supervisors and the public on Monday afternoon.
This workshop will be held at 1 p.m. at the Board of Supervisors chambers.
Scheduled presenters include AECOM, Agess Inc, CIM Group, Cordoba Corp., GEI Consultants and Michael Clinton Consulting LLC, Geothermal Worldwide, Quadrant II, Sea to Sea Development Team, Sephton Water Technology, the Binational Water Group, and Transform Water and Power.
Although these organizations have submitted formal proposals, the state of California has only committed to evaluating the proposals.
It has not committed to water importation being the avenue it pursue as part of the long-term solution for the Salton Sea.
The basic idea behind the proposals is to move approximately 1 million acre-feet of water to the Salton Sea.
For instance, one idea is to pass the water from the Sea of Cortez — located southeast of Mexicali — through the existing Coyote Canal along Laguna Salada to the Salton Sea through the New River.
Despite much anticipation by some of the supporters of the concept, Michael Cohen, senior associate researcher of the Pacific Institute and member of the CNRA’s Long Range Plan Committee, said having these presentations without set criteria or a plan is not the best idea due to a lack of direction from the state.
“There is not a clear sense what the state is going to do with these proposals and may not act on any of them at all,” Cohen said. The revisitation of the water import concept came as a result of a meeting among Gov. Jerry Brown, Sen. Ben Hueso, Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, and county and Imperial Irrigation District officials in August of last year. Both Hueso and Garcia told the governor then of growing interest to revisit the concept. The state officially began accepting proposals in December and continued through March 8.
CNRA Secretary of Salton Sea Policy Bruce Wilcox told Imperial Valley Press in September the goal was to explore the proposals and evaluate which, if any, make sense. At the time, he said the state was interested in five specific pieces of information: 1. members of the proponent team, 2. narrative description of the project concept and how and when it will benefit the lake, 3. planning and design process of the project (including feasibility, water source, land use, environmental impact, salinity, water use, binational permitting and schedule), 4. cost projections, and 5. funding the proposed project.
In late 2015, the Board of Supervisors voted to support the water import concept as a long-term solution for the Salton Sea.
Two years ago, multiple proponents made presentations to the Salton Sea Long Range Plan Committee in Riverside County and El Centro, but the state took no action and moved forward to prioritize the short-term plan, which resulted in the unveiling of the 10-year plan a year later.
The workshop will be broadcast live on the county’s website at http://imperial.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2