Colorado River

Stephen Benson – Special to The Desert Sun

Drought and population growth have taken their toll on the Colorado River, pushing it to historic lows.

As we work together with our neighboring states and the federal government on a long-term solution, many eyes are focused on the Imperial Valley, because of its senior water rights. And as much as we believe in upholding the rule of law, we are equally committed to being responsible water users and doing our part to keep the river healthy enough to meet the needs of all seven states. 

The Imperial Irrigation District and individual farmers have spent over $500 million for system and on-farm conservation investments since 2003. These funds paid for aggressive water conservation measures throughout the Imperial Valley and have resulted in hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water conserved every year.

We take our responsibility as senior water rights holders seriously and continuously work to ensure that we not only conserve as much as possible but also put the water we have to beneficial use for not just the Imperial Valley, but urban users in Southern California and consumers throughout the country. 

So, what happens to Colorado River water that makes its way to the Imperial Valley?  

We grow much of the supply of winter vegetables our country depends on. When winter comes to the rest of the United States, the Imperial Valley is producing at its peak. And, because of the unique soil and weather conditions, we grow significantly more per acre and per drop of water, than elsewhere. Eliminating or diminishing Imperial Valley agriculture is a risk not just for our families, but also for the nation. 

Much of our conserved water is sent to families in urban Southern California. According to the Water Education Foundation, the 500,000 acre-feet of water conserved each year by the Imperial Valley supplies, on average, enough water for the domestic needs of 4.3 million Southern California people annually. Water for those families must come from somewhere, and our conservation efforts take pressure off other parts of the system.


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