San Diego Gears Up to Deal Water Across the West

This October marks 20 years since San Diego cut a famous deal that protected it from drought but paved the way for putting a high price on otherwise free water from the Colorado River.

The hard-fought deal – called the Quantification Settlement Agreement, or QSA – dramatically lowered how much water California takes each year from this river that makes life possible in seven western U.S. states and northern Mexico. It ensured, for the first time, that California wouldn’t use any more than its share. And it achieved that by putting a cap, for the first time, on how much water the farmers in Imperial Valley could take. Water officials would now meticulously count every gallon that once haphazardly emptied from farm fields into the Salton Sea. Today, that massive lake is in danger of becoming a massive public health and ecological disaster.

San Diego County Water Officials Report San Diego Should Have Enough Water in 2024

San Diego County water officials said Monday the region should have plenty of water in the coming year, even though there is lingering concern about water coming from the Colorado River basin.

The San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) said local customers are reaping the benefits from decades of effort to diversify and secure water supplies.

“Because we’ve invested. We’ve done the work — in our infrastructure, in our reliability and in conservation,” said Efren Lopez, a water resource manager with the SDCWA.

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.

IID Keeps Monitoring Conditions Following Water Shortage

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials declared the first-ever water shortage on the Colorado River on Monday, Aug. 16, and the Imperial Irrigation District weighed in on Tuesday, Aug. 17.

That declaration has triggered cuts in water supplies to some Arizona farmers and areas of Nevada for 2022.

In the U.S., Arizona will be hit the hardest and lose 18 percent of its share from the Colorado River next year, according to the Associated Press.

That’s around 8 percent of the state’s total water use. Nevada will lose about 7 percent of its allocation, or 21,000 acre-feet of water.

California is spared from immediate cuts because it has more senior water rights than Arizona and Nevada. Mexico will see a reduction of roughly 5 percent, or 80,000 acre-feet.

The Imperial Irrigation District has addressed the cuts, though the district won’t yet be affected by the recently announced shortage reduction.

Troubled Waters: Extended Interview with the Imperial Irrigation District

Tina Shields, the Water Department Manager of IID, speaks on the QSA, why it was implemented, and the contention between the state and IID as water was forced from agricultural communities to urban areas.

State Launches Salton Sea Restoration Effort

California is poised to begin the first major restoration project at the Salton Sea. The state is investing more than $200 million in a project that will create flooded ponds and other habitats on the exposed lakebed at the southern edge of the lake. “We’ll complete the work over the next two-and-a-half years, I believe completing the project in 2023,” said Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency. The Salton Sea has been shrinking rapidly and exposing a dusty lakebed since the Imperial Irrigation District stopped feeding the state’s largest lake mitigation water in 2018.

Salton Sea: Could Ocean Water Import Be Long-Term Fix?

In many ways, California has stepped up in its commitments to the Salton Sea as tens of millions of dollars have flowed toward restoration efforts for smaller-scale projects planned over the next 10 years. Those projects will largely address potentially hazardous conditions to human and animal life brought on by exposed seabed and loss of bird habitat from ever-shrinking inflows of water.

California’s Water Wars Serve As a ‘Bellwether’ for Colorado River Negotiations

After three decades of water wars in Southern California, policy experts hope a new era in collaborative management will offer inspiration for the ongoing and complex negotiations over Colorado River allocations amid a historic and deepening drought.

Those lessons need to catapult us forward,” said Patricia Mulroy, former head of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, during the fall meeting for the Association of California Water Agencies in December. These states, these constituencies, these communities cannot afford for these discussions to crater. Failure is not an option.”

Rep. Ruiz Introduces Salton Sea Bill in Congress to Provide Funding, Increase Air Quality Requirements

Southern California Democrats Rep. Raul Ruiz and Rep. Juan Vargas introduced a new bill on Thursday that would force the federal government to take a more active role in funding and managing Salton Sea habitat restoration and dust suppression.

HR 8775, the Salton Sea Public Health and Environmental Protection Act, would create an interagency working group called the Salton Sea Management Council to coordinate projects around the lake’s receding shoreline.

Colorado River Users Expect Biden to Put Focus on Climate Change

The incoming Biden administration will lead efforts to craft a new water-management regime for the seven-state Colorado River Basin, and people involved in the process expect any changes to reflect the impact of climate change in the basin.

The Bureau of Reclamation, under the Interior Department, will lead negotiations to replace 13-year-old interim guidelines used to operate the basin’s two major reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead. The Interior secretary also manages the lower basin, containing all the water below Hoover Dam.

Revisions should reflect ecological values, water rights of American Indian tribes, and the need for more conservation measures by users in the seven states—Arizona, California and Nevada in the lower basin and Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming in the upper basin, those involved in the process said.