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Huge water deal with Imperial County farmers upheld

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El Centro Farm IrrigationSAN DIEGO — A California judge has upheld the sale of water from the farmers of the Imperial Valley to the thirsty cities in San Diego County.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly Tuesday disagreed with litigants who said the deal between the Imperial Irrigation District and the San Diego County Water Authority violated the state’s environmental rules, particularly involving the Salton Sea, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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

The deal was signed in 2003 and has been in effect during the legal wrangling. This year, the Imperial Irrigation District will sell 180,000 acre- feet of water, enough for 360,000 families, according to the Times.

San Diego County Water Authority General Manager Maureen Stapleton called the ruling a “landmark victory in San Diego’s historic quest for a more reliable water supply,” the newspaper reported.

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