(a) The Imperial Irrigation District, acting under a contract with the United States for diversion and use of Colorado River water or pursuant to the California Constitution or to this chapter, or complying with an order of the Secretary of the Interior, a court, or the board, to reduce through conservation measures, the volume of the flow of water directly or indirectly into the Salton Sea, shall not be held liable for any effects to the Salton Sea or its bordering area resulting from the conservation measures.
(b) For the purposes of this section, and during the term of the Quantification Settlement Agreement as defined in subdivision (a) of Chapter 617 of the Statutes of 2002, “land fallowing conservation measures” means the generation of water to be made available for transfer or for environmental mitigation purposes by fallowing land or removing land from agricultural production regardless of whether the fallowing or removal from agricultural production is temporary or long term, and regardless of whether it occurs in the course of normal and customary agricultural production, if both of the following apply:
(1) The measure is part of a land fallowing conservation plan that includes mitigation provisions adopted by the Board of Directors of the Imperial Irrigation District.
(2) Before the Imperial Irrigation District adopts a land fallowing conservation plan, the district shall consult with the Board of Supervisors of the County of Imperial and obtain the board’s assessment of whether the proposed land fallowing conservation plan includes adequate measures to avoid or mitigate unreasonable economic or environmental impacts in the County of Imperial.
(c) In order to minimize impacts on the environment, during the term of the Quantification Settlement Agreement and for six years thereafter, in any evaluation or assessment of the Imperial Irrigation District’s use of water, it shall be conclusively presumed that any water conserved, or used for mitigation purposes, through land fallowing conservation measures has been conserved in the same volume as if conserved by efficiency improvements, such as by reducing canal seepage, canal spills, or surface or subsurface runoff from irrigation fields.
(d) If a party to the Quantification Settlement Agreement engages in water efficiency conservation measures or land fallowing conservation measures to carry out a Quantification Settlement Agreement transfer or to mitigate the environmental impacts of a Quantification Settlement Agreement transfer, there may be no forfeiture, diminution, or impairment of the right of that party to use of the water conserved.
(e) During the period that the Quantification Settlement Agreement is in effect and the Imperial Irrigation District is meeting its water delivery obligations under the Quantification Settlement Agreement and its water delivery obligations under subdivision (c) of Section 2081.7 of the Fish and Game Code, no person or local agency, as defined in Section 21062 of the Public Resources Code, may seek to obtain additional conserved Colorado River water from the district, voluntarily or involuntarily, until the district has adopted a resolution offering to make conserved Colorado River water available.
(f) During the initial term in which the Quantification Settlement Agreement is in effect, any water transferred by the Imperial Irrigation District shall be subject to an ecosystem restoration fee established by the Department of Fish and Game, in consultation with the board, to cover the proportional impacts to the Salton Sea of the additional water transfer. The fee shall not exceed 10 percent of the amount of any compensation received for the transfer of the water. The fee shall be deposited in the Salton Sea Restoration Fund. This fee shall not apply to the following transfers:
(1) Transfers to meet water delivery obligations under the Quantification Settlement Agreement and related agreements, as defined in that agreement.
(2) Transfers to comply with subdivision (c) of Section 2081.7 of the Fish and Game Code.
(3) Transfers pursuant to a Defensive Transfer Agreement as defined in the Agreement for Acquisition of Conserved Water between the Imperial Irrigation District and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
(g) Subdivisions (c), (d), (e), and (f) shall not become operative unless the parties have executed the Quantification Settlement Agreement on or before October 12, 2003.
(h) This section may not be construed to exempt the Imperial Irrigation District from any requirement established under the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code).
(Amended by Stats. 2005, Ch. 22, Sec. 208. Effective January 1, 2006.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018