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IID Board Discusses Work at All-American Canal

-Editorial

The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors discussed ongoing work being done at the All-American Canal and legislation they will support this year at the federal and state level.

As a part of its System Conservation Program, the Water Department has been investigating the feasibility of citing and constructing up to nine seepage recovery wells parallel to an unlined section of the All-American Canal. The project would target the recovery of near-surface seepage waters from the All-American Canal at depth of approximately 0 to 180 feet. The proposed project would help augment in-valley water supplies to meet the future demands for agricultural, industrial and domestic uses. It is anticipated that an estimated 22,000 AF net yield of conserved water may be recaptured annually.

The target area is within an existing 1,900-acre wetland vegetation area, thus environmental impacts to wetland vegetation are complicated and continue to be assessed by IID staff.  Because the proposed project is also located on reclamation-managed land, it is subject to review and determination under the National Environmental Policy Act, in addition to the California Environmental Quality Act. The Bureau of Reclamation is the lead agency under National Environmental Policy Act and IID is the lead agency under California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA. An Environmental Assessment and CEQA document will be prepared once all environmental assessments and technical reports are completed.

So far, the seepage modeling and verification technical memo has been 90 percent complete. This report talks about a scenario that could impact up to 900 acres of wetlands.

It is anticipated that an additional $39,000 will be required to stimulate a best-case scenario to provide a range of potential impacts to wetland vegetation and associated habitat. This range would provide for better decision-making prior to moving forward with a more tailored and reliable hydrological assessment that would include additional fieldwork and involve supplemental well testing and monitoring, anticipated to cost in excess of $300,000 in order to quantify the level of impacts that will require mitigation. At the conclusion of the hydrological modeling and assessment, the technical studies in progress could then result in additional environmental work associated with the NEPA and CEQA documentation.

In other items, the board adopted positions on State and Federal legislation. During its Feb. 2nd meeting, the board approved the IID 2021-22 legislative priorities. Consistent with those priorities, staff recommended the board formally adopt positions on the following legislation.

AB 377 (Rivas)-Water Quality

This bill would require all California surface water to be fishable, swimmable, and drinkable by January 1, 2050. The bill would prohibit the State Water Resource Control Board and regional water quality control board form authorizing an NPDES discharge, waste discharge requirement, or waiver of a waste discharge requirement that contribute to an exceedance of water quality standard in receiving water. It also creates an enforcement program and penalties. Recommendation to oppose: Oppose

AB 1397 (E. Garcia)-Lithium Economy Act

The bill would help increase in-state lithium production by requiring any state agency awarding a contract for an electric vehicle to require, by January 1, 2025, the successful bidder to disclose the sources of lithium used in the manufacture of the electric vehicle’s batteries. Also requires at least 35 percent of the lithium used in electric vehicle batteries, pursuant to state agency contracts, to be produced in California by January 1, 2035. Recommended position: Support

H.R. 491 (Vargas and Ruiz) New River Restoration

This bill would direct the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a California New River restoration program to build on, and help coordinate funding for, restoration and protection efforts relating to the New River. Recommendation: Support

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