(IID responds)…The prepared response was read by IID General Manager Kevin Kelley.
At the Imperial Irrigation District Board meeting Tuesday, Kelley said a fairly innocuous environmental document was filed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in support of the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge at the Salton Sea. The Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Metropolitan Water District both sent protest letters, objecting to the modest amount of water the IID provides the federal project. Southern Nevada served notice that the use of the water to sustain species and habitat may be inconsistent with the law of the river. The MWD warned that IID’s water right is strictly limited to potable and agricultural use. Met also reasserted its claim to inflows from the New and Alamo rivers. The GM said the IID rejects both positions, not only as a matter of law but as sound public policy. Kelley said what both letters had in common is the misguided notion that the Salton Sea is a problem to be circumvented rather than solved. He said they advance the perspective that water used to maintain even a semblance of environmental stasis at the Sea, much less restore it, is irresponsible and wasteful, that such water could be necessarily be put to a far better use somewhere else, presumably in Las Vegas or Los Angeles. He said that the two agencies act in what they believe to be their own interests is not surprising, but shortsighted. Kelley said it would not stand. He said the IID and the County are preparing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding that deals with the disposition of the Salton Sea and its inextricable linkage to the long-term viability of the Quantification Settlement Agreement. The MOU will move forward the joint effort to pursue Renewable energy development at the Sea, to serve as the funding mechanism, for its restoration. An achievable plan that results in a smaller but sustainable Salton Sea. Kelley said that is what the IID was promised in the QSA and it is what the District and the County are insisting on through the Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative.