IID narrowly votes to unlock $250 million in federal money for troubled Salton Sea

The money, distributed over four years, comes from the Inflation Reduction Act and is in addition to the nearly $583 million already promised from the state.
The Salton Sea, seen here in an aerial image, is in crisis following years of drought.

The Salton Sea is set to benefit from $250 million in federal money for environmental cleanup and restoration following a vote Tuesday evening by the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) Board of Directors.

Driving the news: The Department of the Interior announced Monday it had reached an agreement with leaders from the California Natural Resources Agency, IID, and the Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD). 

  • The money, distributed over four years, comes from the Inflation Reduction Act and is in addition to the nearly $583 million already promised to the sea from the state.
     
  • It will be used to help mitigate the impacts of the worsening drought crisis impacting the sea.

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Yes, but: Most of the money is contingent on IID and CVWD making good on plans to use less water from the Colorado River.

  • IID is the entity that receives the most significant share of the river, and its rights to its water date back more than a century.

At issue: The agreement hinged on a critical vote from the IID Board of Directors that was far from unanimous.

  • IID directors Alex Cardenas and Javier Gonzalez argued against approving the agreement at Tuesday’s meeting, citing concerns over consequences for farmers.
     
  • Other directors won out in the end, and the motion to approve the agreement passed 3-2. 

What they’re saying: “This is a great step, but I think we need a lot more,” said Frank Ruiz, Salton Sea program director for Audubon California. “We need to continue discussing water sustainability in the region.”

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