County to host work­shop on water im­port projects

Imperial Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - BY ED­WIN DEL­GADO Staff Writer

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

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