Federal officials have given the final clearance to begin the historic transfer of water from the Imperial Irrigation District to the San Diego County Water Authority, officials with the Water Authority said Thursday. With the final clearance in hand, the first 10,000 acre-feet of water from the historic transfer agreement flowed into San Diego County at the end of 2003. The initial delivery of 10,000 acre-feet of water marks the beginning of the largest agriculture to urban water transfer in U.S. history.

“This marks the culmination of more than eight years of hard work to secure a substantial and highly reliable water supply for San Diego County,” said Maureen Stapleton, Water Authority general manager. “This first transfer of water from Imperial Valley begins a new era of greater water reliability for those who live and work here.”

In a letter to the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation confirmed that 10,000 acre-feet of water had been delivered to Lake Havasu and gave approval for the water to be moved to San Diego. The MWD ex-changed the water during December as agreed to in its water exchange agreement with the Water Authority.

The IID-Water Author-ity transfer is the cornerstone of the Quantifi-cation Settlement Agreement (QSA) that quantifies water entitlements, implements long-term water transfer and supply programs and ensures California up to 75 years of stability in its Colorado River water supplies. The QSA required that an initial water delivery from the transfer occur before the end of 2003.

Under the IID-San Diego County Water Authority water transfer agreement, the water transfer ramps up from 10,000 acre-feet in 2003 to 200,000 acre-feet annually in year 19 (2022) and each year thereafter. It has an initial term of 45 years and a renewal term of 30 years. The transfer represents a new supply of 12.9 million acre-feet of water for San Diego County over the 75-year life of the agreement.