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Imperial County hosts 2022 Colorado River Summit addressing drought

Panelists focused on different topics from economy, water conservation, water rights and more to address the impacts of the water crisis

EL CENTRO, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - The 2022 Colorado River Summit was held Thursday for the community and stakeholders to come together to inform each other of the drought issue, the drastic measures that may be coming our way and how those measures can be mitigated by working together.

Imperial County, Comite Civico Del Valle, the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture & Business (COLAB), Imperial County Office of Education (ICOE), and the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association hosted the forum.

Imperial County Board of Supervisors District 1, Jesus Escobar says with the water crisis, the issue is we all have to come together and make sure it's fair and equitable, especially for a disadvantaged community.

"Financially, economically, impoverished area and one of the key things that we have in our favor is obviously our water rights," says Escobar. "And when those water rights get cut, it adds to the issue of disadvantaged communities, economic development, lack of opportunities for the whole of Imperial County. So even though we understand there's a drought, we also have to work together."

Michael W. Kelley, Imperial County Board of Supervisors District 3, says he was so impressed by some of the panelists because they are ahead of the game.

"I was impressed by how brilliant they are with respect to being responsible for their businesses in farming," Kelley says. "And how they go about utilizing the water and protecting the water and being very restrictive and not wasting it. The beneficial use of water, they're doing a dynamic job."

He hopes we can reduce the trauma that comes with the shortage of water.

"That's our lifeline, that's our blood," says Kelley. "Without it, we don't stand a chance."

Luis Plancarte, Imperial County Board of Supervisors District 2, moderated a health and environmental panel.

"As less water goes to the Salton Sea, more playa is exposed," says Plancarte. "We hope to get from the agencies firsthand some of the concerns they have and they see that are coming forth, so then we can share that with IID, the State of California, US Federal Government so as they negotiate with the other areas they understand that it's more than just water or farm or cities. There's also health issues and environmental issues that will be caused."

One local farmer Jack Vessey, owner of Vessey & Company in Holtville, was a guest speaker on the water users panel.

"Well the Importance of Imperial County is everybody in the IID service area is we want to be able to survive for the next five, ten, 20, 50 years," Vessey says.

Vessey said today's takeaway is that everyone is getting a little bit more knowledge of the possibilities on the things that might happen in the future in regards to water cuts.

"We need to be somewhat part of the solution and to figure it out," says Vessey. "I was here as regards to representing agriculture that we're doing everything in our power to conserve and not just for us, but for the community of the Imperial Valley to survive as well."

Kelley said he hopes after this summit, the Imperial County will come together as a whole and let the federal government and the State of California know that they are aware of what's going on and want to be proactive to make sure that nothing is devastated to the County of Imperial.

Article Topic Follows: Imperial County
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Vanessa Gongora

Vanessa Gongora joined the KYMA News 11 team in 2021.

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