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IID General Manager Henry Martinez addresses MWD Water Planning and Stewardship Committee on DCP

Post Date:03/11/2019 2:19 PM

LOS ANGELES – Today Imperial Irrigation District General Manager Henry Martinez spoke before the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Water Planning and Stewardship Committee, stressing the importance of supporting the state of California’s Salton Sea Management Plan.

Martinez spoke in opposition to a proposal before the committee that would authorize MWD’s participation in the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan on behalf of California, regardless of IID’s participation. The item is set for a vote by the full Metropolitan board on March 12.

“I can tell you that it is seen in the Imperial Valley as an attempt to work around the environmental challenges posed by the Salton Sea,” Martinez told the committee.

The IID Board of Directors took unanimous action on March 1, opposing the MWD proposal.

“A Lower Basin DCP that attempts to sidestep or work around the unique environmental challenges posed by the Salton Sea, or one that excludes IID because the other parties “can’t wait” for the Sea, isn’t really a contingency plan,” said IID Board President Erik Ortega. “Just as it is hydrologically connected to the Colorado River, the Salton Sea is inseparable from the DCP, and any attempt to sweep it aside or pretend it doesn’t exist is as unsustainable as it is cynical.

“We all need to cross the finish line together, in California and across the two basins, but that won’t happen by taking short cuts, environmental, economic or otherwise.”

At the MWD meeting on Monday, Martinez suggested that the way to arrive at a resilient and durable DCP is for the parties to work through the Salton Sea issue.

“Our two agencies have shown that we can do good things for the river and each other when we take the long view, and that capacity to see past the moment is what’s urgently needed now,” he said.

If the MWD proposal moves forward without IID, MWD’s obligation to the river could be 2 million acre-feet. “It is not irrational to believe there will be a public clamor, if not an outright demand, to find that water in the Imperial Valley,” Martinez said.

“That’s when people are going to question whether it was such a good idea for the Lower Basin DCP not to wait for the Salton Sea.”

He encouraged support for federal matching funds for the state’s 10-year Salton Sea Management Plan. “From our perspective, such a federal commitment is the single biggest impediment to a Lower Basin DCP that does what IID and all other Colorado River contractors need for it to do, which is to reduce the risk of reaching critical elevations at Lake Mead.” 

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