Water Authority supports QSA legislation

Short Title
Water Authority supports QSA legislation
Water Authority board unanimously adopts position of support for SB 117 and SB 317
May 22, 2003

The San Diego County Water Authority board of directors today unanimously voted to support two pieces of state legislation that are key to successful completion of the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA).

The Quantification Settlement Agreement is a comprehensive agreement containing eight core, long-term water supply programs maximizing California's basic annual apportionment of 4.4 million acre-feet and reducing the state's reliance on surplus Colorado River supplies. The QSA includes the historic water transfer between the San Diego County Water Authority and the Imperial Irrigation District that would provide 200,000 acre-feet of water annually - or nearly one-third of San Diego County's current water supply.

Senate Bill 117, by State Senator Michael Machado (D-Linden), would appropriate $200 million from Proposition 50 to fund QSA programs consistent with the QSA signed on March 12, 2003. The bill would appropriate those transferred funds to the Department of Water Resources to administer a competitive grant program, consistent with the act, for projects located within the service area of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California or the San Diego County Water Authority, to further the ability of Southern California water users to live within the state's annual apportionment of 4.4 million acre-feet of Colorado River water.

For every dollar appropriated to MWD or the Water Authority under the bill, MWD or the Water Authority would deposit a dollar into a joint powers agency that would administer the environmental programs associated with the QSA. In addition to the $200 million made available by this bill, the four QSA water agencies (MWD, the Water Authority, Coachella Valley Water District and the Imperial Irrigation District) would commit to providing $43.3 million to the joint powers agency should those funds be necessary to achieve success in the environmental programs.

Senate Bill 317, sponsored by State Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), would authorize limited take of species resulting from certain environmental impacts attributable to the implementation of the QSA in return for substantial environmental protections and enhancements.

Both bills would satisfy one of the five conditions necessary to implement the QSA.

"The QSA is vital to the near-term and long-term water reliability of California's Colorado River supply, and by today's unanimous vote to support this legislation, the board has shown that it remains firmly committed to making the QSA a reality," said Bernie Rhinerson, Water Authority board chairman.

SB 117 and SB 317 are scheduled to be heard in the state Senate Appropriations Committee next week.

The San Diego County Water Authority is a public agency serving the San Diego region as a wholesale supplier of water from the Colorado River and Northern California. The Water Authority works through its 23 member agencies to provide a safe, reliable water supply to support our region's $126 billion economy and the quality of life of nearly 3 million residents.

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