On April 16th, the same day President Trump signed the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act, California’s Imperial Irrigation District brought a suit against the Metropolitan Water District in Los Angeles Superior Court.  The suit alleges MWD acted in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act when it approved the DCP without considering its full environmental consequences. Also naming the Coachella Valley, Palo Verde, and Needles Water Districts, the suit asks the court to suspend the Lower Basin DCP until a thorough environmental analysis is completed.

IID’s suit comes in anticipation of mandatory water cuts it believes it will feel the brunt of as a largely agricultural district compared to MWD’s urban population needs. California representatives signed off on the drought contingency plans without the approval of the IID because the MWD agreed to cover the water cuts that would be asked of IID. IID now says MWD wrongly did so even as previous contracts between IID and MWD make such an exchange possible.

IID has always maintained the position that any interstate agreement must include $200 million in federal funding to address the health and environmental issues surrounding the Salton Sea.  That money was not included in the DCP agreement, though state and federal officials are attempting to allocate 2018 Farm Bill money to address the Salton Sea. The evaporating inland sea’s receding shoreline is exposing toxic silt that, once airborne, is creating increasingly hazardous air quality. Childhood asthma rates in the area double that of the rest of California.

Sources and Further Reading:

As Colorado River Plan Advances, Wrangling Continues
California Dispute Threatens Drought Plan To Protect Colorado River
Colorado River Basin Drought Contingency Plans – A Timeline
IID Sues To Halt Colorado River Drought Plan Signed By Trump, Says Officials Ignored Salton Sea
Toxic Dust and Asthma Plague Salton Sea Communities