To aid in the management of its available water supply for 2022, the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors has approved a plan that equitably apportions the resource among its categories of water users: potable, agricultural and industrial/commercial.
According to the District, the revised Equitable Distribution Plan (EDP) will use a hybrid apportionment methodology to calculate each agricultural field apportionment for the year, with the mid-year implementation beginning June 1 but retroactive to January 1, 2022.
“We recognize the impact that declining hydrology is having on the Colorado River, which is a serious concern to us all,” said IID Board President James. C. Hanks. “By adopting this plan, we’re providing a means for Imperial Valley growers to be able to continue their work to meet the nation’s food supply needs, within IID’s available water supply, while supporting the river.”
The 2022 EDP apportions water first to each category of water user and then down to a field or customer level, for planning and water budgeting purposes. Its goal is to prevent IID’s cumulative demands from exceeding the district’s available, authorized annual Colorado River supply.
The EDP provides agricultural water users over 97% of IID’s apportioned supplies using a calculation based on both straight line and modified historical use average components. The plan authorizes a clearinghouse as a mechanism to transfer water supplies among water users. Water users can offer accepted, but unneeded apportionment to the clearinghouse for transfer to other water users (at no cost between users), or request additional water from available supplies.
The Colorado River is entering its 24th year of record-breaking drought while California is also experiencing more pronounced water supply shortfalls. The Colorado River Lower Basin is operating under a Tier 1 Shortage Condition in 2022 for the first time, and with the Inadvertent Overrun and Payback Policy now suspended all Lower Basin water users, including IID, are limited to fixed consumptive use or diversion caps.
Since 2003, IID’s annual consumptive use has been capped at 3.1 million acre-feet under the Quantification Settlement Agreement, the nation’s largest ag-to-urban water conservation and transfer pact. The Imperial Valley has conserved about 7 million acre-feet in support of the Colorado River and California water supply issues the past two decades and conserves about 500,000 acre-feet on average each year.