By: Mario Conde, Reporter
Imperial County Board Chairman Ryan Kelley called that for an initiative that will bring equal treatment and compensation for cities and towns.
In his statement read at the Sept. 24 meeting, Kelley said he has heard concerns from community members about the distribution of water transfer funds. Specifically, questioning the proceeds of destructive water transfers to the coast being used for the internal Imperial Irrigation District operations and on-farm conservation programs.
Kelley said that arguments being made that payments of the water transfer are only benefiting the IID and agricultural landowners.
In 2015, former California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order ordering mandatory action to reduce water usage by 25 percent statewide from 2013 levels, increasing enforcement to prevent water waste, and streamline government review of and response to drought-related measures.
Kelley added that this executive order required local agencies to make significant reductions in potable water usage, even though, the Imperial Irrigation District’s water supply was not impacted by the order or drought. Effectively, local cities and towns were ordered to conserve water that had no impact on State Drought.
“For context, Imperial Valley contains roughly 26,000 acres of towns and cities, which for all intents and purposes is by far the single largest farm unit in the Imperial Valley. However, Imperial Valley’s cities and towns used far less than 5 percent of the Imperial Valley’s entire annual water supply of 2.6 million acre-feet,” Kelley said.
Kelley argued productive farms use an average of 5.5 acre-feet per acre per year, Imperial Valley’s cities use an average of less than just 1.5 acre-feet per acre.
“The effect of the one size fits all state-mandated residential and municipal water conservation meant that Imperial Valley’s parks, lawns, greenery, trees, and landscaping withered and dried up to comply with the executive order,” he said.
Kelley is advocating for funding for enhanced irrigation, landscaping, tree planting, and other greening initiatives much needed to restore the quality of life and tree canopy lost during mandated residential and municipal conservation.
“Residential and municipal users who use far less than their fair share, we’re forced to use even less, and were not compensated for their conservation or damage to their property,” Kelley added.
Kelley said this initiative will give cities and towns equal treatment they deserve and restore the quality of life, health, and vibrancy our communities needed so much today with on the ground projects to maintain and green up existing spaces.
“Local communities should be given past recognition and future inclusion for their conserved water-their sacrifice. These uses are known and can be easily gathered to show the conserved acre-feet of water,” Kelley stated.
Kelley said he has spoken to IID Board President Erik Ortega and asked that the IID consider this proposal.
“It is the least we can do for our children and future generations who will call this valley home,” Kelley said.