Water Conservation

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IID’s on-farm and distribution system efficiencies are high, surpassing even the California Department of Water Resources’ expectations. This is largely due to the fact that IID and its farmers continuously invest money and resources to rehabilitate and modernize their irrigation and delivery systems in an effort to improve water management and to conserve water. To obtain the high on-farm efficiency, farmers have lined farm head ditches, installed tile drains, leveled farmland, and implemented many water management and conservation measures. At the same time, the IID has lined canals, built regulating reservoirs, implemented canal seepage recovery programs, built interceptor canals, and undertaken many non-structural measures to achieve the high level of conveyance and distribution efficiencies.

Aware that the demand for water in California would continue to increase as a result of the State’s rapid population growth, IID, as a good steward, initiated water management and water conservation programs several decades ago.

In the early 1950’s, IID started a very ambitious program of canal lining in an effort to reduce seepage and thus conserve water that would be available to the farms. Parallel to the canal lining program, IID initiated a program of improved water management including the automation of the delivery system to enhance the ability of water operations to track water levels and flows in the canals. IID also augmented the canal lining and automated delivery system by building regulating reservoirs in strategic areas within the District.

Additional non-structural measures such as providing increased flexibility for irrigators to change orders during the last day of the run and promoting water conservation programs at the farm level were also implemented.

In 1988, IID finalized a 35 year water conservation and transfer agreement with MWD (1988 IID/MWD Agreement). The agreement provided for MWD to pay the costs of water conservation measures in exchange for conserved water estimated to be over 100,000 acre feet per year. The conservation projects were similar to those implemented by IID in past years including regulation reservoirs, canal lining and system automation. Added to the list of water management and conservation projects was multi-lateral interceptor canals designed to allow improved on-farm flexibility and the redistribution of canal operational water.

The IID received the USBR "Commissioner’s Water Conservation Award" for outstanding record of water conservation as a result of this agreement.

On April 28, 1998, The IID and SDCWA approved the "1998 IID/SDCWA Conservation and Transfer Agreement." The agreement provided for water to be conserved by IID by methods chosen by IID and then transferred to SDCWA for a negotiated and agreed upon price formula. Pursuant to the original terms of the transfer, the IID agreed to make available to SDCWA a minimum annual quantity of 130,000 acre feet and a maximum annual quantity of 200,000 acre feet ramped up over a 10 year schedule. All water was to be provided by efficiency conservation projects.

In October of 2003, IID executed the Quantification Settlement Agreement ("QSA") and related agreements. The QSA is a consensual reallocation of Colorado River water based on a series or agreements. These agreements include water conservation, transfer and exchange projects among IID, CVWD, MWD, the State of California, and the US Department of Interior. The QSA included the 1988 and 1998 conservation and transfer agreements, with modifications, for a period of up-to 75 years. In addition to the 105,000 acre-feet of water currently being conserved under the 1988 IID/MWD Conservation Program, these more recent agreements define an additional 303,000 acre feet per year to be conserved by IID from on-farm and distribution system conservation projects for transferred to SDCWA, CVWD, and MWD.

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2014 QSA Water Conservation & Transfer Agreement Annual Implementation Report [PDF]