Editor's Note: Attached is the three-agencies' plan and letter to Governor Gray Davis
Three agencies that are parties to California's Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) on the Colorado River on Wednesday released a new funding plan that will reduce the need for state funding to implement the historic water accord and provide added opportunity for studying restoration of the Salton Sea.
The Coachella Valley Water District, the Imperial Irrigation District and the San Diego County Water Authority forwarded the plan to Governor Gray Davis Wednesday afternoon. The plan is a response to a modified Quantification Settlement Agreement presented to the QSA agencies in the Governor's Office on June 16, 2003, by state Senator Mike Machado. Senator Machado's proposal would reduce the amount of funds contributed to the QSA by the state and would provide a three and one-half year period to explore restoration alternatives for the Salton Sea.
"We believe this plan is responsive to Senator Machado's request that we allow time for the Salton Sea restoration alternative to be evaluated and to provide additional environmental contributions by the parties," said Maureen Stapleton, general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority, speaking on behalf of the three agencies.
Under the three-agency plan, the QSA water agencies would contribute an additional $30 million toward environmental mitigation programs associated with the QSA, for a total by the agencies of $73.3 million. The water agencies' funding would be based upon the principle that the "beneficiary pays," with funding provided proportionate to the additional water each agency would transfer or receive under the QSA. With the additional funding, the required state contribution to the QSA would be reduced to $170 million.
The three-agency plan also incorporates other elements of Senator Machado's June 16 proposal, including the provision of a three and one-half year window in which a Salton Sea restoration alternative could be studied. Alternatives currently being advanced for the Salton Sea's restoration propose to capture agricultural drainwater flowing to the sea, desalinate it and substitute the desalinated water for IID's water in the QSA transfer programs.
If a restoration project that desalinates Salton Sea water for the QSA transfers is feasible, meets environmental and regulatory compliance, has received funding commitments, and other conditions are achieved by Dec. 31, 2006, the three agencies' plan agrees to use that water to satisfy the water transfer obligations under the QSA.
If a Salton Sea restoration plan does not meet the equivalency criteria, the QSA would move forward under the provisions of the March 12, 2003, Quantification Settlement Agreement.
The Quantification Settlement Agreement is a set of agreements among four California water agencies that help California reduce its over-reliance on the Colorado River. California has historically drawn more than its 4.4 million acre-foot basic annual apportionment of Colorado River water. Under the QSA, the agencies will implement eight core, long-term water transfer and supply agreements that will shift up to 36 million acre-feet from agricultural use to urban use over the life of the agreement.
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