Three Ways to Change How California Manages Water for the Environment

News Deeply –

One of the nation’s most successful partnerships between farm and urban water agencies has lately run into serious turbulence, potentially threatening an important Colorado River water-sharing deal.

Twelve years ago, the Palo Verde Irrigation District in Blythe, California, signed an agreement with the powerful Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. It allowed the latter to pay Palo Verde farmers to fallow up to 35 percent of their acreage in times of water scarcity, and take delivery of the unused irrigation water, via canal, to serve its urban customers in the Los Angeles area, some 200 miles away.

It’s been a great deal for both parties. Palo Verde farmers made millions “loaning” their water. Met gained access to the irrigation district’s senior water rights in the Colorado River, which remain available when the water district’s other supplies are restricted during drought. It also became a promising alternative to the so-called “buy and dry” deals that have taken farmland out of production permanently in other parts of the West.

But suddenly, tension is humming along that canal between Blythe and L.A.

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