A Year in Review—and Hope for the Year to Come

The above image includes a collage of photographs from the water-related issues covered on the Home Page water blog of this website and the Community Spotlight section of the site.

As 2021 ends, and we look toward a new year that will undoubtedly bring challenges—but also hope—this blog post seeks to reflect on the year from the standpoint of water and community stories covered.

It goes without saying that 2021 was a difficult year as COVID-19 continued its grasp on all aspects of life. Even in the face of the pandemic, the work of providing water as an essential service continued for every agency with the responsibility of making sure their constituents have the water they need to sustain their communities, farms and businesses. This past year highlighted the challenges statewide and throughout the Colorado River Basin associated with providing that water service in the face of a twenty-year drought on the river, yet agencies continued to meet the demands for water. The critical story of 2021 on the Colorado River was the shortage declaration for the upcoming year on Lake Mead, the reservoir serving the river’s Lower Basin. A key element of this story is that while California is not affected by the current shortage declaration, the Lower Basin is moving forward with steps to try to protect the reservoir from further declarations. As 2021 ends and the focus turns to a new year, the effort to meet water needs is continuing with an eye toward finding resolutions to challenges and to address those challenges in a way that is mutually beneficial.

While the drought has been a dominating issue, the water blog on this website has had the chance to cover several other critical water matters. An important water story this year was the ramping up of the Conserved Water Transfer Agreement between the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) and the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) to its full allotment of 200,000 acre-feet per year. The water transfer, which is the cornerstone of the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), is provided through a conservation program implemented in the Imperial Valley by IID and the Valley’s farming community and funded by SDCWA. This water, coupled with 77,700 acre-feet from the lining of the All-American and Coachella Canals, remains an important supply of water for the San Diego community while providing the Valley the funding it needs to implement water conservation.

The water transfer and QSA cannot be discussed without also discussing the Salton Sea, and 2021 offered several opportunities to discuss the status of the sea. With the state moving forward with Phase I of its Salton Sea Management Program, there were positive steps toward restoration work at the sea this year. Additionally, the QSA Joint Powers Authority (JPA), made of up IID, SDCWA, the Coachella Valley Water District, and the state, continued its mitigation projects meant to address the specific environmental impacts of the QSA. While challenges continue at the sea, both the state’s restoration work and the separate but complementary QSA JPA mitigation effort show the sea is a priority issue, and one where all involved will have to continue to monitor to make sure progress continues.

Water issues weren’t the only stories covered on this website. On a community level, this blog writer has had the opportunity over the past year of interviewing some very special people and highlighting important organizations and programs as part of the Community Spotlight section of this website. The Community Spotlight page was always meant to bring the community together by sharing their stories. This year, the page brought attention to the work of nurses in the Imperial Valley and how they faced the challenges of their job considering the pandemic. There have been stories on the directors of the three farming organizations in the Valley and the challenges agriculture has faced and overcome. There have also been stories of events, like Cattle Call, continuing as important Imperial Valley traditions. The last feature of the year was on The Salvation Army bell ringers at the holidays, including a focus on one 94-year-old bell ringer who told how her faith guides her to help the community. This blog writer appreciates all those who were willing to be interviewed, and it’s an honor to tell such stories. 

Look to this site for more community features as well as water stories in 2022, as there will likely be no shortage of stories to share. This site is meant to be a benefit to the community, so this writer would ask the community that if you have ideas for Community Spotlight stories in 2022, send a message either through this site or directly to the writer, Darren Simon, at dsimon@sdcwa.org. Likewise, if there are questions you have on water matters or would like to see a water-related issue addressed on this site, contact us through the site or the email provided above.

Thank you for following this site in 2021 and stay turned for what’s to come in 2022. Stay safe and healthy.