Water conservation

IID implements court-sanctioned water plan for agriculture and cities | Agriculture

THE CENTER – As the western drought entered its third decade, the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) accelerated the Equitable Distribution Plan (EDP). To help manage its water supply available for 2022, the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Trustees has approved a plan that distributes the resource fairly among its categories of water users: potable, agricultural and industrial/ commercial at the meeting on Tuesday, June 20.

The revised Fair Distribution Plan, adopted by council on Tuesday, June 21, following five public workshops and stakeholder feedback, will use a hybrid distribution methodology to calculate the distribution of each agricultural field for the year, the implemented mid-year beginning June 1 but retroactive to January 1, 2022.

“We recognize the impact that declining hydrology is having on the Colorado River, which is of grave concern to all of us,” said James, chairman of the IID board. C. Hanks. “By adopting this plan, we are offering Imperial Valley producers a way to continue their work to meet the country’s food supply needs, within the limits of IID’s available water supply, while supporting the river.”

Brawley farmer Jimmy Abatti asked the council at the meeting about the decline of the Colorado River system.

“The Board of Reclamation said at the Senate hearing that 2.2 to 4 million acres/feet (maf) will need to be kept in the reservoirs to preserve the system, will this affect the EDP numbers? ” Abatti asked.

The response from Tina Shields, head of IID Water, was discouraging. “EDP depends on actual water from the Colorado River. There may not be enough water in the system to reach us,” Shields said.

The EDP 2022, revised from previous versions, allocates water first among each category of water users and then down to a field or customer level, for planning purposes and water budgeting. Its purpose is to prevent the cumulative demands of the IID from exceeding the available and authorized annual supply from the Colorado River in the district.

Currently, the IID is experiencing an overshoot, which means that more water has been used from the river than expected, proportionally. The district said at the meeting that the numbers are heading in the right direction and every accounting shows the overruns are decreasing. When the IID has used up its allocated 3.1 maf, the BOR will stop the draw of the IID, either on November 1 or December 31, 2022.

The EDP provides agricultural water users with over 97% of the IID’s distributed supplies using a calculation based on both linear and modified components of historical average use. The plan authorizes a clearinghouse as a mechanism for transferring water supplies between water users. Water users can offer accepted but useless dispatch at the clearinghouse for transfer to other water users (at no charge between users), or request additional water from available supplies. The end user of clearinghouse water will pay the prevailing tariff for the product.

The Colorado River is entering its 24th year of record drought while California is also experiencing more pronounced water supply shortages. The Lower Colorado River Basin is operating under a Level 1 shortage condition for the first time in 2022, and with the inadvertent overage and refund policy now suspended, all water users in the Lower Basin, including IID, are limited to fixed limits of use or diversion.

Since 2003, IID’s annual consumption has been capped at 3.1 million acre-feet under the Quantification Settlement Agreement, the largest agricultural-urban water conservation and transfer pact in the world. country. The Imperial Valley has conserved approximately 7 million acre-feet to support Colorado River and California water supply issues over the past two decades and conserves approximately 500,000 acre-feet on average each year.

Brawley farmer Larry Cox told the council that the agricultural industry is supportive of growth in the valley and would support agricultural water transfers to local industry if needed.