Metropolitan Water and Imperial Irrigation Districts settle Colorado River dispute

Salton Sea to get $250 million in agreement on Colorado River conservation

The Bureau of Reclamation said Monday it will spend $250 million over four years on environmental cleanup and restoration work around the Salton Sea as part of an agreement between the California Natural Resources Agency, Imperial Irrigation District (IID) and Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) in exchange for voluntary conservation actions on the Colorado River.

“This agreement is a huge step forward,” said California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot. “It builds our momentum delivering projects at the Sea to protect communities and the environment and ensures that California’s leadership in conserving Colorado River water supplies doesn’t come at the expense of local residents.”

The future of the Salton Sea, and who is financially responsible for it, has been a key issue in discussions over how to prevent a crisis in the Colorado River.

Under the agreement, the Bureau of Reclamation will provide $22 million in new funding through the Inflation Reduction Act in fiscal year 2023 to implement projects at the Sea, support staffing at the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Tribe, and conduct scientific research and management that contributes to project implementation.

The remaining $228 million over the next four years would be subject to the implementation of voluntary conservation actions proposed by IID and CVWD. The quarter-billion dollars would go to expedite existing state projects designed to lower the negative environmental impact of the drying lake bed.

“This agreement was developed as part of an ongoing effort by the Imperial Irrigation District to bring external resources and broader partnerships to the Salton Sea’s many public health and environmental challenges,” said IID General Manager Henry Martinez.

The IID, the largest water rights holder to Colorado River water, approved the agreement Tuesday.

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