Fulp talks about challenges to Colorado River
By EDWIN DELGADO, Staff Writer
HOLTVILLE — In an effort to further educate the local agricultural community about the current challenges and conditions that persist at the Colorado River, Imperial Valley Water invited Regional Director for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Region Dr. Terrance Fulp to speak about ‘The State of the River” at the Imperial Palms Resort here Wednesday.
Fulp gave an overview of the current state of the Colorado River and the challenges that lay ahead, but despite the changes of climate and the drought have had on the River he said that there is enough flexibility in the collection of laws and treaties to allow them to work on solutions for contemporary issues.
“We got a good chance to leave the same legacy at the Colorado River that others left for us,” he said. “We want to make sure we position ourselves so that our senior water rights holders are always getting water and continue the good job that they do.”
Among the keys points he made during his presentation, Fulp talked about the big impact that natural runoff water has on Lake Powell and Lake Mead. He said that in years when natural water runoff declines it causes the water level at Lake Mead to decline rapidly.
As of now, Lake Powell is at 45 percent of its capacity and Lake Mead at 38 percent. Fulp mentioned that it has been crucial that the reservoirs were at 95 percent before the drought.
He said his main goal was to give people a better understanding of how the Colorado River works and the value of this water and the risk to us in the future, primarily due to the drought but also due to a changing climate.
“I hope they get that we’re all in it together in the sense that we’re all at risk if the system were to crash, we don’t want that,” Fulp said. “If this drought were to continue and if we don’t know what we are going to do about it then we are collectively at risk, if we work together though we can find solutions to that and reduce that risk.”
Among the issues that the Bureau of Reclamation is looking into is to give flexibility to the water users and work to increase water storage in Lake Mead. Fulp said he felt confident that the Imperial Irrigation District will be allowed to store more water at some point.
“The presentation was great, for water users and farmers of the Imperial Valley it is very important to open our eyes and see what is going on in the world today and understand the constraints that we may have to live under and be prepared,” said Jack Vessey, chairman of Imperial Valley Water.
Also during his presentation Fulp said that since natural water runoff has been below average in the last few years the elevation at Lake Mead could continue to decline and said the federal government is looking into a few possibilities to increase the supply such as the desalination of water, reclaiming waste water and transporting water from the upper Missouri River.
In order to stay ahead of some of the issues that can begin to arise Fulp said that communication, transparency and collaboration are crucial in preserving water for generations to come.
“It all starts with communication and this event was great to do that, after that you need collaboration and what that entails is maintaining good relationships with all our partners,” Fulp said. “That’s how we’ll solve issues like flexibility and storage, things that are extremely important to the Valley.”
Vessey said that he took Fulp on a tour around Imperial Valley to get a firsthand look into the efforts that are being made locally to maximize the vital resource. Fulp mentioned in his presentation that he was impressed by the efficient use of water in the Valley.
This was the second seminar that Imperial Valley Water has organized since its inception last year and Vessey said that it is crucial for everyone in the Valley to stay informed about what is happening in order to come up with solutions.
“The only way you can get to a point to try to solve something is having the knowledge and that’s what we are trying to do here, provide the knowledge to our friends and neighbors of the Imperial Valley,” Vessey said. “I think this is a good educational program, we will continue with these seminars, bring people in and let us learn a little bit more about the outside world and how it’s affecting us.”