THE CENTER – Gary Thompson and Jurg Heuberger, representatives of the Local Agency Training Boards (LAFCOs) of Riverside and Imperial Counties respectively, presented the scope of work of the AB 1021-funded study to the Imperial Irrigation District Board. The study was part of a bill drafted by Assemblyman Chad Mayes (I-Rancho Mirage).
Since the bill’s introduction, the IID has struggled with its intrusive nature which would have added non-voting Riverside County members to the IID Board of Directors. Mayes justified his bill by noting that 60% of IID’s electric customers reside in Riverside County and have no representation with IID. An earlier bill, AB 854, by Assemblyman Chad Mayes proposed to add six IID seats to the five Valley seats, all held by residents of Riverside County. Not only would Riverside have control of the valley’s electrical service, but also of its water rights.
In 2021, the Governor’s budget included $500,000 for the Imperial County and Riverside Local Agency Training Commissions (LAFCOs) to conduct a study of IID as proposed in AB 1021. While AB 1021 was vetoed by the Governor, funding for the study was approved. . The two LAFCOs have spent the last eight months working with the State to finalize a scope of work and a reimbursement mechanism. The first round of funding has been approved and a notice to proceed has been issued.
In brief, the study will focus on the following areas – options for providing perpetually owned and operated electric service by IID to customers in the Coachella area before and after the expiration of the 99-year power lease between the ‘IID and the Coachella Valley Water District in 1934.
The study also includes options for alternative governance structures that would extend IID voting rights to registered Coachella Valley voters who reside in IID’s electrical department to provide proportional representation within a Board of Directors which will have primary jurisdiction over all electrical service matters.
For the Imperial Valley, this is where the problem lies. The IID is an irrigation district that also provides power through the All-American Canal hydroelectric falls. Everyone associated with the study said it was just electricity, not water – to the declared disbelief of IID board members and residents of the county. Imperial.
The study indicates that any findings must isolate the management of water rights as the sole responsibility of the current IID Board of Directors and will not affect the boundaries of the district’s water service area. imperial irrigation.
Jurg Heuberger, the Imperial County LAFC0 representative said, “We will listen to IID’s comments, but you may not agree with our findings, in fact, I’m sure you will. not. But it is only electricity, not the water side.
“You say it’s not about water,” replied IID President Jim Hanks, “but it’s about water. We are an irrigation district; we operate under the water code. What about funding? Was it delivered? »
Heuberger answered yes.
“And which department is funding the study?” Hanks asked.
“The California Water Resource Board is funding the study,” Heuberger replied.