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Plans and Public Workshops for Salton Sea

Local officials believe they are close to achieving a crucial win to mitigate the health and environmental woes caused by the decline of California’s largest lake


Last updated 9/5/2017 at 9:39am

Sept. 7, the State Water Resources Control Board has scheduled a public workshop in which it will review the proposed plan formally called Draft Stipulated Order — which was negotiated between the Imperial Irrigation District, Imperial County, the state and other stakeholders.

Members of the public can submit their comments regarding the Salton Sea Management Program and the draft stipulated order to the state water board by noon on Sept. 1.

The tentative order would be an amendment to the water order, the water board issued on Oct. 28, 2002, which approved the long-term transfer of water from the Imperial Irrigation District to San Diego County Water Authority, Coachella Valley Water District and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

The overarching goal is for the state of California to commit to a series of annual milestones regarding the number of exposed acres covered under the Salton Sea Management Program and give the water board jurisdiction to hold the state accountable if the goals aren’t met.

“This is huge, it’s the single most important step we’ve taken. It’s not everything we requested but would be the most progress we’ve made to this date in the Salton Sea effort,” said Governmental Affairs Officer for IID, Antonio Ortega. “(If approved) it would send a strong message that the state is serious about this issue.”

County Supervisor for District 4 Ryan Kelley, who represents the residents of the northern portion of the county which includes the Salton Sea, said that this plan has been long in the making. He said the County and IID partnering to make state officials aware that they were failing in their commitment to mitigate the public health and environmental concerns caused by the decline of the lake, has been an important driving force which has taken them this far.

Because the efforts at the Salton Sea will require active participation by the state for many years to come, stakeholders want a commitment that goes beyond the tenure of Gov. Jerry Brown whose term expires at the end of 2018. The order will continue to force the state to keep an active role in the Salton Sea regardless of the agenda of future governors.

“It’s absolutely necessary,” he said. “We’ve made it very clear that Imperial County residents and landowners are not paying for the impacts the water transfer has caused in the Imperial Valley.”

“This plan will put projects on the ground with deliverable timelines and affirming the commitment of the state as the lead agency and will set triggers that put the state on the hook to remediate the situation,” Kelley said. “It’s a win for Imperial County to have the state put this on paper and have a commitment.”

Although the water board is not expected to take any action during the Sept. 7 workshop, the order could be back for a vote as early as during its Sept. 19 meeting.

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