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Water Agencies Battle on the Salton Sea

August 09, 2003

We read "A Thirsty, Ornery Gorilla" (editorial, July 24) with considerable interest. We are members of the Salton Sea Coalition, an alliance of environmental, tribal, hunting and fishing organizations, and we were surprised and disappointed at your conclusions and assumptions. We disagree with your statement that the Imperial Irrigation District/San Diego County Water Authority transfer would "protect the Salton Sea." While the state Water Resources Control Board has required, at our behest, that the transfer not impact the sea for 15 years, it will still accelerate the decline of the sea and does nothing to assist in creating long-term protection for it. A dying Salton Sea threatens hundreds of bird species and will likely threaten public health from massive dust storms.

We disagree with the assumption that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is the only entity opposed to the use of public funds from Proposition 50 to pay the environmental mitigation costs associated with the transfer. Our organizations have publicly opposed this use of Proposition 50 funds because we believe that the state should not shift the cost of mitigating the environmental effects of this transfer to the taxpayers. Using public funds to underwrite water transfers is not, as your editorial characterized it, "a fair approach." A fair transfer should include protection for the Salton Sea and require that those who benefit from the transfer -- the water agencies and not the California taxpayers -- pay the costs of the transfer.

J. William Yeates

National Audubon Society

Kim Delfino

Defenders of Wildlife

Karen Douglas

Planning and Conservation

League, Sacramento

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