Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

MID’s Allen Short Wants to Sell Our Life’s Blood…Our Water

In Southern California the states largest lake is drying up.  The Salton Sea is in danger of becoming a dust bowl further emphasizing the long-term concern Stanislaus County has over its water rights that MID is looking to sell off for the next 60 years.  The following story is from the Sacramento Bee.

Courts weighs scrapping huge California water pact

 
Courts weighs scrapping huge California water pact

 SAN Diego  — A vanishing lake figures large in a court battle over how Southern California gets it water, a high-stakes dispute with consequences that could ripple throughout the western United States.

A California appeals court is considering whether to overturn a landmark 2003 agreement that created the nation’s largest farm-to-city water transfer and set new rules for dividing the state’s share of the Colorado River.  A three-judge panel of the 3rd Appellate District in Sacramento will hear arguments Monday and is expected to rule within three months.

Farmers and environmentalists involved in the lawsuit argue the pact is deeply flawed, while California water agencies say it is critical to keeping an uneasy peace on the river. The court has given each side 45 minutes to make its case and asked lawyers to focus on whether the state of California violated its constitution by essentially writing a blank check to restore the shrinking Salton Sea.

California long used more of the Colorado River than it was granted under agreements with Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Mexico. Its overindulgence was never a big problem until Sunbelt cities like Phoenix witnessed explosive growth and other states clamored for their full share. Drought only exacerbated tensions.

The 2003 accord between California’s warring water agencies reins the state to its limit established 80 years earlier of 4.4 million acre-feet of water a year – enough to supply about 9 million homes. The centerpiece called for California’s Imperial Valley – a farming region of 175,000 residents that gets nearly 20 percent of the entire river – to sell water to San Diego.

In January 2010, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Roland Candee gutted the pact in a sweeping, 52-page decision that faulted the state for its open-ended commitment to the Salton Sea. California’s largest lake is more than 200 feet below sea level and relies on water that seeps down from nearby farms. The sale of water to San Diego,  further threatens the lake’s future.

The judge ruled that a state law committing California to save the lake no matter the cost set an unacceptable precedent for the government to pledge money to other projects it couldn’t afford. The administration of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pegged the cost of saving the Salton Sea at a whopping $9 billion.

The state’s dire fiscal straits offer little hope for the lake, whose rapidly receding shores are layered with dead fish. Its waters – about one-third saltier

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/11/20/4068398/courts-put-huge-california-water.html#ixzz1eNNxtH13

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2 thoughts on “MID’s Allen Short Wants to Sell Our Life’s Blood…Our Water

  1. How about building more dams? More desalination plants? How about splitting California into two states? plenty more ideas to come. Drill more water wells..etc

  2. John Duarte on said:

    The water sale is more about backfilling the underfunded MID pension mess than anything else. The official number is that the pensions are underfunded by 30% as of two years ago. This assumes that the assets would have increased by 7.75% per year for the last two years and will continue to do so going forward. 50% underfunded is a better number.

    There is no part of the proposed sale that will require future BODs to spend the revenue in any particular way. A Short admitted this in one of the public meetings in Oct. Why weren’t pension shortfalls and catch up funding included in the recent budgets or rate increases. The problem won’t just go away. The current board has no appetite to address it.

    We are, prospectively, going to sell our water to backfill a big mistake made ten years ago. Allen will retire soon as will a number of our directors. The pensions need serious restructuring and/or staff pay increases need not be a topic for a decade until the entire MID compensation package comes in line with the local job market. Why should our distressed ratepayers pony up scarce dollars to overcompensate MID staff? Why should our local economy loose its lifeblood, water, to sustain an unfair compensation system? Why do the cops, firefighters and schools suffer draconian cuts in staff while the MID operations enjoy business as usual?

    It is time for hard choices.

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