Water agencies prepare to challenge decision that could jeopardize region’s supply
A judge’s decision to strike down a series of agreements over the shared use of water from the Colorado River could put the San Diego region’s supplies at risk.
If upheld on appeal, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Roland Candee’s ruling would invalidate a dozen pieces of a 2003 compact among seven states, including the San Diego County Water Authority’s deal to buy water from the Imperial Valley.
Candee struck down the deal based on a relatively narrow contract issue involving funding to restore the Salton Sea, largely sidestepping the environmental concerns that were the basis for the litigation.
Various water agencies — including the SDCWA, the Imperial Irrigation District and the Metropolitan Water District — are preparing immediate challenges, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Imperial County filed the litigation over concerns about the impact the water compacts have on the areas surrounding the Salton Sea. Imperial County officials told the Union-Tribune the Salton Sea is receding more rapidly because the water transfers to San Diego County are robbing the inland lake of agricultural runoff that has sustained it for years.
“Imperial County’s intent in all of this litigation is not to dismantle the river deal,” county Supervisor Wally Leimgruber told the newspaper. “Our focus has always been on the environmental issues that surround the Salton Sea.”
The San Diego County Water Authority gained an extra 150,000 acre-feet of water this year, enough for 300,000 homes, because of the transfer and other water-savings projects in the Imperial Valley, according to the newspaper.