The local utilities Water Conservation Advisory Board wants more talk about what some members say are the biggest issues facing the board.
The Imperial Irrigation District’s Water Conservation Advisory Board talked over where its subcommittees stand on future fallowing efforts and starting an on-farm conservation.
Board members asked that they work to make sure on-farm conservation is put into place right so the long program will be the best it can be. The water advisory board needs to have good, confident, non-political help to put the project in place, said board Vice Chairman Ronnie Leimgruber.
Board member Larry Gilbert asked that the group not avoid the “elephant in the room,” which is concerns over what the baseline of the on-farm conservation would be.
Others were also worried over not having a baseline of what to pay per acre-foot of water conserved.
“You’ll get zero people signing up until you can tell us the baseline,” said Stephen Benson, former WCAB chairman and current candidate for IID Director Stella Mendoza’s Division 4 seat.
More arguments arose at the Thursday meeting about a proposed solar fallowing program, which has already gone before the IID Board of Directors as an informational item, and heads back there next week again. Groups have been asking about what will happen to the water from the solar projects in development now, said Tina Shields, water department assistant manager.
The district is somewhat limited in what it can do, she said. However, no solar water contracts have been signed yet.
“We’re talking these parameters and trying to make lemonade out of it,” she said.
The district is opening up a can of worms with this proposal, Leimgruber said. Where do you draw the line between industry and agriculture use?
He was against there being a chance the solar fields could have a higher priority on the water than the agriculture users.
“We’re pushing the envelope, and it’s dangerous,” he said.
Fellow board member Tom Brundy asked that the IID Board of Directors proceed slowly with the solar fallowing process. The district needs to look at all its options, because the 30-year contracts have to be structured right.
Fallowing and on-farm conservation are set to be brought back at next month’s meeting, though some had asked those items to be the main focus of the meetings from now on to be the two topics, citing how important they were.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-337-3441.