The Borrego Valley aquifer is drying up. In response, the Borrego Water District proposes to build a water pipeline from Imperial County and purchase water for residential use, rather than restrict consumption by the largest users to extend the life of the aquifer.
First of all, a pipeline is far from a sure thing. There are significant hurdles to overcome and the BWD has no Plan B. Even if it happens, it is many, many years away. In the meantime, agriculture will continue overdrafting the aquifer and water levels will continue falling at accelerating rates.
Then there are the costs. The BWD ďestimates ďa pipeline will cost $60 million to build, at least $15 million of which will be paid by Borregans through increased property taxes. Currently, the Imperial Valley Irrigation District is selling water at $427 an acre foot. Add to that the cost of maintenance and electricity to pump water nearly 60 miles and you have some idea of the real costs of this option.
Then there is the question of reliability of supply. Is Colorado River water a long-term reliable source of water for the valley when demand already exceeds supply and increases each year? We think not.
A far better solution is to concentrate on eliminating 70% of our water use by encouraging agriculture to go elsewhere.This is not a vendetta against farmers. Agriculture is just not sustainable in the valley, and, inevitably, will have to leave because they have exhausted the water supply. Letís make it worth their while to leave now before that happens and we all have to leave.
The BWD has authority to impose a pump tax or extraction fee on private wells, but refuses to consider this option. Think about the huge negative impact the looming specter of a dried up aquifer will have on the total value of residential property in Borrego Springs. Thatís the real cost of letting unregulated pumping continue. If you agree, let the Water Board hear from you.Ray Schindler