Canal project receives environmental award
The All American Canal lining project has been honored for conservation and mitigation efforts during the construction of the new, parallel 23-mile section of concrete-lined canal that runs through the sand dunes.
The Imperial Irrigation District project was selected for a 2011 national environmental excellence award by the National Association of Environmental Professionals. The award noted that the canal project required extensive coordination among federal and state agencies, including the Border Patrol, recreationists and on-site workers to ensure that established environmental mitigation measures were implemented.
At one point, the environmental work consisted of relocating fish from the unlined canal as the water drained. Also, a wetlands and dunes restoration area was established to mitigate the new canal's impact on wildlife.
Michel Remington, IID's environmental compliance supervisor, said he and his staff had been working on developing and implementing the environmental mitigation for this project since it was first authorized in 1988.
“We're proud that the district and our hard work to minimize the impacts of this project on the environment has been recognized by this association,” he said.
IID will receive the award in April during the association's national conference in Denver. The NAEP is a multidisciplinary association dedicated to the advancement of environmental professions.
This is the second national award the All American Canal lining project has received. In 2010, the district and its partners were recognized by the American Public Works Association, which hailed the project as the Project of the Year in the environmental category.
That award recognized the cooperation among agencies to bring the project to completion. It had been in the works for more than 20 years, having been initially authorized by Congress in 1988. It was later identified as key to efforts to continue to meet the water needs of multiple communities that depend on the Colorado River.
Legal battles delayed construction until 2007. The $285 million project was completed early and on budget in the spring of 2009.
The payoff is the conservation of an estimated 67,700 acre-feet of water per year once lost to seepage — enough to meet the annual needs of about 500,000 people. Most of the saved water will be delivered to San Diego as part of an agreement with the San Diego County Water Authority to help fund the canal project.
The 82-mile canal, owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and managed by the IID, has delivered Colorado River water to the Imperial and Coachella valleys since 1938.
Joyce Lobeck can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6853.