Imperial Irrigation District Files Legal Brief in Abatti Case Appeal

IID Files Appeal of a Local Court’s Decision Challenging District’s Water Rights

News Release

On Friday, the Imperial Irrigation District filed a legal brief with California’s Fourth Appellate District Court in its appeal of a local court’s decision challenging the district’s water rights.

The appeal is in response to the August 2017 decision by an Imperial County Superior Court judge against the district that invalidated IID’s method of apportioning water, known as the Equitable Distribution Plan.

That judgement also encompassed other provisions of great concern to IID, including a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the water rights held by IID and other legal errors that could jeopardize the Imperial Valley’s historic water rights and restrict the district’s ability to provide reliable water supplies to all of its customers in the future.

In its combined reply and response brief, the district argues that IID “legally acquired and owns the water rights to the Colorado River water that it diverts and delivers to the Imperial Valley,” and that those rights are held by IID “in trust for its uses and purposes” under irrigation district law.

IID was therefore, “well within” its powers when it adopted the EDP to apportion water to all its water users.

“The outcome of this case will dictate the future of the Imperial Valley’s water rights and who controls them,” said IID Board President Erik Ortega. “For the IID, this case is about many things but none more important than protecting and managing this resource for the benefit of all water users.”

The IID Board of Directors is expected to address the brief in open session during its meeting next Tuesday.

More information about the suit can be found at:

https://www.iid.com/water/rules-and-regulations/equitable-distribution

Alfalfa and Water in Imperial County

Imperial Valley Is Big on Alfalfa Production

By Brian German, Associate Editor

 

Imperial County farmers produce more than 100 different types of commodities from bamboo to artichokes, with alfalfa being one of the county’s most significant crops. Linsey Dale, executive director for the Imperial County Farm Bureau, said, “Alfalfa is grown on about 120,000 acres in Imperial County—about one quarter of our total farm acreage. It is a very important crop to the County, both for domestic use and export markets.”

Imperial County, CA
Imperial County, CA

Dale differentiated the alfalfa industry from others. “We are completely Roundup Ready-free. We grow non-GMO alfalfa here in Imperial county,” said Dale, “and it’s a very strong crop. We get about nine cuttings per year, which is very significant compared to most areas in the country,” she noted.

Because Imperial County is a desert environment, many wonder how farmers are able to grow so many different types of crops. “We have a very strong water supply. Our water comes from the Colorado River, which is moved by the Imperial Irrigation District, so we do not rely on rainfall to grow any of our crops. We rely 100 percent on our supply from the Colorado River,” Dale said.

“In terms of overall water usage,” Dale explained, “Imperial County agriculture uses an average of 5.6 acre-feet of water per acre every year. Dale added, “The Imperial Irrigation District holds the water in trust for use on our land. They have instituted what we call an Equitable Distribution Program, in which all of the water is allocated by acreage, so growers have a set amount of acre-feet of water to use on each acre.”