At the water forum, Maureen Stapleton and Andy Horne
, two supposed partners, spoke with noticeably different enthusiasm about the 75-year deal their respective water agencies signed in 1998 to transfer up to 200,000 acre feet annually from Imperial Valley to San Diego.
By contrast, Horne, who is president of the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) board of directors, sounded as if he were still negotiating the deal.
“To many people in the Valley,” he
said, “this commitment really flies in the face of a great deal of public concern and skepticism about the wisdom of transferring such a valuable resource.”
The largest irrigation district in the nation, IID
has the right to 3.8 million acre feet annually from the Colorado River.
Recently, it has come under pressure from other districts to use its water more efficiently or lose some.
“We believe we do use that water very efficiently,” Horne
said, pointing out that under current conservation agreements, when fully implemented, IID
will conserve annually a total of 500,000 acre feet for transfer to California urban water users.
“We feel that is a major contribution,” he
The San Diego deal has raised a variety of concerns in Imperial Valley (see Imperial Valley's Questions; San Diego's Answers), but behind them all lies the worry that they will continue to be pressed to transfer more and more water out of farming to urban areas, leaving them without enough water of their own to diversify and develop their economy.
“We’d like to be able to attract new growth and development as we attempt to diversify our economy outside of the box, if you will, of what has traditionally been an agricultural area,” Horne