The Future of the Colorado River Hinges on One Young Negotiator

John Brooks Hamby was 9 years old the last time a group of Western states renegotiated how they share the dwindling Colorado River. When the high-stakes talks concluded two years later, in 2007, with a round of painful cuts, he hadn’t reached high school.

Yet this June an audience of water policy experts listened with rapt attention as Hamby, now 27, recited lessons from those deliberations.

Environment Report: A Love-Hate Letter to Alfalfa

Most of my life I knew alfalfa as the dopey kid from “The Little Rascals” with a dipstick coiffure who was, inexplicably, Darla’s crush. But driving through the fields of Imperial Valley mid-October, alfalfa was everywhere bailed in one- to half-ton cubes piled five high and 15 across.

Voice of San Diego photojournalist Ariana Drehsler and I passed so much of it I wondered, how much does this stuff go for? Asking around revealed the market rate for alfalfa falls somewhere between $200 and $300 per ton or more, depending on where it’s grown and purchased. Like a mirage, the rows of green bales whizzing by looked more like stacks of cash.

Imperial Valley is an alfalfa production machine. Farmers grow the flowering legume, generically called hay, to feed livestock. It’s Imperial Valley’s second-largest crop to cattle, generating over $269 million in 2022, according to the region’s most recent crop report.

How Imperial Valley Spends San Diego’s Cash for Water

I traveled to Imperial County last month to see what this desert farming community built with the cash San Diegans pay for some of its water.

The latest thing is a small lake, eight times the length of an Olympic lap pool, built into the harsh, flat landscape. The hot wind whipped at the new reservoir’s surface so hard, waves of it almost breached the bare dirt rims of its chamber.

IID Director Dockstader Elected to ACWA Region 9 Board

Imperial Irrigation District (IID) Director Gina Young Dockstader has been elected to serve on the Association of California Water Agency’s (ACWA) Region 9 Board for the 2024-2025 term, the water association announced this week after finalizing its board officer and regional election results.

Hilary Causes $9.3M in Damage; Imperial County Waits for Help

As federal and state lawmakers based in California continue to petition President Biden to declare a federal disaster in the wake of Tropical Storm Hilary, local assessments show Imperial County was among the hardest-hit areas in terms of property damage per capita.

Overall, Imperial County received some $9.3 million in property damage during the weekend storm in which 3.26 inches of rain fell on Aug. 19 and 20, but perhaps the most shocking statistic shared by Imperial County Fire Chief and Office of Emergency Services Coordinator David Lantzer was that Imperial County was the second-highest county in property damage per capita at $51.

“Those are pretty significant numbers. I’m actually a bit surprised, but not completely surprised,” Lantzer said during his department report at the Imperial City Council meeting of Wednesday, Sept. 20.

Offshore Wind, Solar Along San Diego Highways and More: Some Key Energy Bills Heading to Newsom’s Desk

Gavin Newsom better have a big desk.

Of more than 2,600 bills introduced in the legislative session that wrapped up late last week, about 840 managed to navigate their way through the Assembly and Senate. The bills that survived the legislative gauntlet now await their respective fates at the hand of the governor, who has an Oct. 13 deadline to sign them into law or veto them.

Here’s a look at some of the noteworthy energy bills Newsom will consider:

A late provision by outgoing Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, included a proposed pumped hydroelectric storage project at San Vicente Reservoir near Lakeside to the list of potential projects that AB 1373 helps facilitate.

If constructed, the San Vicente project will pump water from the existing reservoir to a smaller reservoir (still to be constructed) and then generate emissions-free electricity by sending the water back downhill.

The IID’s Water Rights – a Balancing Act of Responsibility and Sustainability

Water is the lifeblood of civilizations, and the management of this precious resource has always been a challenging task. The Imperial Irrigation District (IID) holds a significant stake in water rights, playing a vital role in water distribution and agriculture. This essay delves into the history, challenges, and strategies employed by IID to manage water rights responsibly and sustainably.

Opinion: With Colorado River Negotiations Settled, it’s Time to Focus on Water Conservation Plans

The agreement reached in May by California, Arizona and Nevada to conserve 3 million acre-feet of Colorado River water is reassuring news for all who rely on it — farms, cities, rural communities, tribes and the environment. It benefits American consumers in general who depend on the region’s farms for much of our safe, healthy, affordable food supply, and Southern California residents who receive farm-to-urban water transfers from the Imperial Valley specifically, helping protect them from drought-related water shortages.

IID Opens New Conservation and Operational Reservoir

The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors saluted the district’s completion of its newest water conservation and operational reservoir located just east of the city, which will conserve 400 acre-feet of water annually and provide water operational flexibility to growers in the valley’s Northend.

The new operational reservoir, recently dedicated by the IID Board as the Lloyd Allen Water Conservation Operational Reservoir, is the first mid-lateral canal reservoir constructed through IID’s System Conservation Program. It has a total storage capacity of 40 acre-feet and is located along the district’s E Lateral Canal — the longest in the district’s delivery system at 13 miles in length.

In addition to conserving water, the new reservoir supports the district’s On-Farm Efficiency Conservation Program, providing improved water delivery service to growers.

The IID Board visited the site of the new reservoir on Friday, June 30, as part of a larger tour of water operational facilities in the Valley’s Northend.

Senator Padilla Secures Critical Investments for Imperial Valley in 2023/24 State Budget

On Tuesday, June 27, the California Legislature passed the 2023/24 state budget, which included critical investments in projects around the Imperial Valley.

According to a press release from the Office of Sen. Steve Padilla, Senator Padilla, whose district includes all of Imperial County, worked with legislative leaders to secure these investments in the Valley’s future. These projects will spur new investments in lithium separation and battery production, pave roads to help residents to travel around rural communities safely, improve water quality in heavy agricultural-use regions of the state, and assist communities delivering humanitarian aid to asylum seekers, according to the release.