Ruling keeps Colorado River water flowing to San Diego

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Colorado RiverSAN DIEGO — A judge has finalized his tentative ruling upholding a deal to bring Colorado River water to San Diego.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly issued his final ruling Wednesday, which rejected all legal challenges to the agreement, which was struck in 2003, according to the water authority.

San Diego has been receiving 180,000 acre-feet of water annually from the Imperial Irrigation District while the deal was challenged in court by environmental groups, Imperial County and the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District. That’s enough for about 360,000 homes.

By 2021, transfers will supply 280,000 acre-feet annually to the region, according to the CWA.

“The (agreement) is a cornerstone of San Diego County’s water supply, and the final order by Judge Connelly validates eight years of work crafting an agreement and 10 years of implementation to help sustain our region’s $188 billion economy for decades to come,” said Thomas Wornham, chair of the CWA Board of Directors. “The water authority is committed to meeting all of its obligations under the (deal) so that this historic pact continues to benefit all the parties involved.”

The plaintiffs claimed that the water transfers violate the state’s environmental rules, particularly involving the Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea straddles Imperial and Riverside counties and is replenished by agricultural runoff. Opponents of the deal argued as more water is sold rather than used to irrigate farms, runoff has decreased and the sea has shrunk.

However, the agreement includes a plan to restore the large body of water in the Southern California desert.