California dispute threatens plan to protect Colorado River
The Imperial Irrigation District, the biggest recipient of Colorado River water, on Tuesday sued a Los Angeles water utility which consented to donate nearly all of California’s share of water under a multistate drought contingency program to a important reservoir.
The action came the day President Donald Trump approved laws to implement the program, which Utah Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming spent years.
The arrangement is intended to maintain the two largest reservoirs in the Colorado River of the country from dropping so low they cannot send water or produce hydropower.
It required which Imperial vowed to donate to Lake Mead. With that, Metropolitan’s contribution will top 2 million. An acre-foot is enough water to function one or two households a year.
Imperial’s lawsuit claims the Metropolitan Water District sidestepped a environmental law.
“Where the water source could come from and exactly what environmental impacts could result from Metropolitan’s need to obtain such water to fulfill this large gap in its own water source are entirely unknown,” Imperial wrote in court documents filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
A California law requires local and state agencies to identify any potential environmental effects of the actions if possible, and address them. Imperial is currently requesting the court to force Metropolitan to comply with that legislation, which could delay the drought plan from being executed.
Metropolitan has stated storing water in Lake Mead below the drought program does not require review since any changes to its facilities would be minor.
“We are disappointed that the Imperial Irrigation District is using litigation as a tool to obstruct execution of the drought contingency plan,” Metropolitan overall director Jeff Kightlinger said in an announcement Wednesday. “Parties on the Colorado River should collaborate during this period of tragedy, not litigate.”
Imperial took the position in December the drought program could be exempt in the law. District spokesman Robert Schettler said that came before Metropolitan strayed which Imperial approved with stipulations.
The seven nations and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation have said the drought program will not affect the Salton Sea, however the Imperial Irrigation District is not convinced.
“The logic going forwards without IID was that the DCP (drought contingency strategy ) couldn’t await the Salton Sea,” general manager Henry Martinez said Wednesday. “This legal challenge will put that logic into the evaluation, and the attention will be where it should have been all along, the Salton Sea.”
Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, tom Buschatzke, said it is unclear what would happen if from enrolling records for the drought plan a California judge sides with Imperial and prohibits the Metropolitan Water District.
“We certainly will have to have any conversations among the basin states and Reclamation on the best way best to proceed and what we can or can’t do at this time,” he told colleagues in Phoenix.
The states had been expected to sign documents month based on a time for Mexico to start next calendar year contributing water, Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Patti Aaron explained. She said the bureau is currently reviewing the suit for its potential results but failed to comment on it.
Associated Press writer Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix contributed to this report.