California water agencies are resolving the Colorado River dispute

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By FELICIA FONSECA Associated Press

Two major California water agencies have dropped accusations that several governments in the western United States have threatened to block a deal to protect a river that serves millions of people during a drought.

The Imperial Irrigation District, the largest recipient of Colorado River water, has sued the Metropolitan Water District twice in the past two years. The agencies announced on Monday that they had reached an agreement to resolve both charges.

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Under the terms of the agreement, Imperial will be able to store water in Lake Mid on the Arizona-Nevada border under Metropolitan Accounts. If California is to help with more water shortages, Imperial will provide water according to the state’s emergency plan.

Imperial spokesman Antonio Ortega said the agency hopes its partners in the California and Colorado River basins will recognize opportunities to work together. The river serves 40 million people in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, and Mexico.

“But also,” those environmental challenges that we face here on the Salt Sea every day will be part of the discussion to ensure that they are being addressed, and IID concerns will not be ignored.

The Los Angeles Water Agency sided with Imperial in a drought emergency, and Imperial accused Metropolitan. The Los Angeles County Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Imperial, appealing to the California Court of Appeals earlier this year.

A.D. Another lawsuit filed in 2020 accused Metropolitan of violating a contract to store water on the Colorado River in Lake Medo. Metropolitan denies the allegations. The trial is set for April 2022.

Court documents indicate that those issues are in line with last week’s agreement, which sets out regular discussions between the agencies to respond to the drought. He said the Metropolitan would support Imperial’s efforts to restore the Salton Sea and raise more money for the huge lake southeast of Los Angeles.

Metropolitan Colorado River Resources Manager Bill Hassenam said Monday that Imperial’s ability to store water under subcontractors provides greater flexibility in extracting water. However, he said the capacity was less than Imperial’s under the emergency plan, and that Imperial’s voluntary contributions would be less.

He said the agreement marks the end of legal battles and a return to co-operation. Already, water users in the West are talking about existing guidelines for the Colorado River and what will replace the overlapping drought plan for 2026.

Imperial is entitled to more than a third of the water in the lower reaches of the river and in the three states of Mexico.

“They have to be at the table,” Hassenmp said. They have to be a party.

Seven Western states have completed their 2019 drought plan to avoid drastically reducing water levels on Lake Plains and Lake Paul-Arizona-Utah border. Nevertheless, the US Office of Rehabilitation announced for the first time that water shortages in Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico would be in short supply by 2022.

The Imperial Irrigation District was originally written by the California Department of Drought Planning and promised to contribute most of the state’s voluntary reductions to avoid delays in implementing the Metropolitan Plan. It is based on receiving $ 200 million in federal funding to address environmental and health risks in the Salton Sea, which has not received Elperial support.

In 1905, after a ditch was swept away by a flood in the Colorado River and a basin was flooded, the indoor air created in 1905 was exposed to microscopic dust that contributed to poor air quality and asthma.

The state of California has allocated an additional $ 40 million for rehabilitation efforts in the Salton Sea, but not enough, Ortega said.

“We need more support, and things seem to be moving in that direction,” Ortega said. We hope it moves quickly.

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