11 Nov 2014

Will the people of Imperial Valley jump or get pushed?

I gave a guest lecture to some students in Imperial Valley last week and mentioned to them that:
  • Imperial Valley was unpopulated 120 years ago. Climate change will depopulate the region again
  • Imperial Irrigation District uses 3 MAF/year; Nevada (Vegas) gets 1/10th as much water
  • IID uses 20 percent of the Colorado River (or 10 percent of California's Ag water)
  • 160,000 people live in IV. Only 10 percent are in ag; the rest work in government or service
  • Las Vegas has 600,000 people and a MUCH larger economy
These facts should be considered when considering three futures for IV/IID:
  1. Dept of Interior condemns IID and directs its water elsewhere, for human or environmental uses
  2. IID/IV sells its water and people move, winding down operations over time
  3. A drying Salton Sea results in hazardous air quality that forces people to move
The best future is obviously #2, but do the people of Imperial Valley know that? If not, will they get the first or third option?

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