The Imperial Irrigation District (IID) and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California have settled a legal conflict over emergency drought plans for Colorado River allocations.
In 2019, IID held up negotiations over the Drought Contingency Plan, arguing the agreement would not include additional funding for restoring the Salton Sea. The reservoir and surrounding communities have suffered severe environmental impacts as local farmers conserved water, leading to less runoff into the lake. Metropolitan instead signed onto the plan without IID and agreed to provide the district’s share of water reductions. This led to two lawsuits against the urban water agency.
The new settlement agreement commits both agencies to seeking additional state and federal funding for restoration projects. It brings IID back to the negotiating table with the seven states, two nations and several Native American tribes that rely on the river.
“The current level of reliance is not sustainable,” said Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil in a statement.
IID General Manager Henry Martinez added that the only way to ensure long-term viability of the river is for both agencies to work collaboratively on these critical matters. The agreement comes as a decades-long megadrought deepens, with the Bureau of Reclamation declaring the first-ever tier one shortage last month.