No one is going to argue there are flaws in the Quantification Settlement Agreement, where the disagreement comes is whether it should have been blown up and done again or fixed while still active. Now, a week after the former has been decided against and the latter is the case, there is much work to be done.
In a state filled with them, the Salton Sea is turning out to be the biggest unfunded mandate anyone has ever seen around these parts. And with the entire QSA nearly imploding on the back of the briny body of water, nothing has really changed.
Smarter people than we will get into the intricacies of what happens next and what direction those efforts will go, but what is clear to us is fixing the sea takes on more importance now than ever. What could come from the QSA being validated is that the Imperial Irrigation District, and the ratepayers and ultimately the landowners, as well as the Bureau of Reclamation could be liable if the sea is not dealt with and health issues arise as a result.
The state being on the hook for restoration efforts — the reason for the initial invalidation — is probably never going to happen, as it will take at least a decade for the state to not be in a perpetual state of insolvency. So, finding the funding to restore the ailing sea is going to end up being the responsibility of local stakeholders.
Local advocates like Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez are trying to put control of restoration efforts back in the hands of locals, but what then? There needs to be funding to make the sea whole, and whether that is a series of public private partnerships, federal funding or a several million here and there from agencies that benefit from the water transfer is all up in the air. But it needs to happen.
We still say a flawed QSA is better than no QSA at all, but not all is decided in the wake of last week’s decision. The work is just starting, and it’s paramount all parties — whether at odds or in cahoots — work together like never before.
QSA invalidation overruled.
Much more needs to be done in wake of court decision.
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