California water utility urges irrigation district to 'put the genie back in the bottle' in water waste case

Following a recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation confirming that Imperial Irrigation District is wasting Colorado River water, the chairman of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Phillip J. Pace, issued the following statement.

Jul 7th, 2003


LOS ANGELES, Calif., July 7, 2003 -- Following a recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation confirming that Imperial Irrigation District is wasting Colorado River water, the chairman of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Phillip J. Pace, issued the following statement:

"We acknowledge that the Bureau of Reclamation's comprehensive evaluation of water use by the Imperial Irrigation District, typically called the 417 process, recognizes what most water experts have known for two decades -- that IID is wasting water. The determination is consistent with other prior independent studies and findings.

"IID chose the route of litigation, which has brought about the 417 decision. Through IID's lawsuit against the federal government, IID let the proverbial 'genie out of the bottle'. By accepting responsibility for implementing modern conservation practices like neighboring Coachella Valley Water District and other agricultural areas throughout California, IID can put the genie back in the bottle. It's their choice: spend their money on lawsuits or conservation.

"For Metropolitan's part, we have not counted on this milestone in the 417 process for additional water for our customers. Any suggestions that Metropolitan seeks 'free water' are factually untrue. Metropolitan's water supply reliability rests on its diverse and integrated resources strategy, not a single supply. We recognize that there are communities like those served by the Coachella Valley Water District that are impacted most by the waste in the Imperial Valley and that this milestone in the 417 process is highly significant to them.

"The 417 process of annual determinations is supposed to ensure that all lower Colorado River federal water contractors' water use does not exceed the amount reasonably required for beneficial use so as to meet overall demands on Colorado River water to the extent possible.

"The 417 process was established in 1964 and revised periodically in consultation with the federal river water contractors, including IID, in the lower Colorado River basin and is unique to the lower Colorado River basin.

"Metropolitan is determined to do everything possible to secure an orderly resolution to the waste of water in the Imperial Valley."

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 18 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage, and other water-management programs.

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