Ignoring threats of dire consequences by state and federal officials, California’s Imperial Irrigation District refused yesterday to approve a huge water sale to San Diego County. Members of the Imperial Valley irrigation district’s governing board said they resented the threats, which ranged from intimations that the board would be disbanded to suggestions that the valley’s own water supply would be reduced if the sale was not approved. “If you push me around, I’ll push back. … Without water, the Imperial Valley is nothing,” said board President Stella Mendoza. Under federal regulations, a proposed transfer of water from the Colorado River to coastal Southern California had to be approved by the Imperial Valley before it could proceed. The proposed transfer is part of a federally mandated plan to reduce California’s overall use of Colorado River water, and would affect as many as seven states. The Bush administration has now said it could suspend the rule requiring Imperial Valley approval for the water transfer.
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