CADIZ WINS ROUND ONE IN EFFORT TO PUMP WATER FROM MOJAVE DESERT

CADIZ WINS ROUND ONE IN EFFORT TO PUMP WATER FROM MOJAVE DESERT

Round one for Cadiz…

An Orange County Superior judge ruled recently against environmentalists who challenged Cadiz Inc.’s plans to pump groundwater from beneath the Mojave Desert and sell it to a southern California water agency. The Center for Biological Diversity and the National Parks Conservation Association, among others, charged in their lawsuits that Cadiz’s environmental review was inadequate; that it was a conflict of interest for the water company that plans to buy the water—Santa Margarita Water District—to conduct the environmental review; and that San Bernardino County should have been the lead agency for the project, and not Rancho Santa Margarita, which is 200 miles away. Cadiz plans to siphon and sell enough groundwater from below the Mojave Desert to supply 100,000 homes in Orange and Los Angeles counties. Water sales could bring Cadiz $1 billion to $2 billion in revenue over 50 years. The Center for Biological Diversity says that the pumping would, over the long term, lower the groundwater table and deplete the aquifer under Cadiz’s property as well as surrounding public lands. Cadiz experts have dismissed concerns about the operation, saying it will have minimal environmental effects. Judge Gail Adler said in her May 1 decision that while having the Santa Margarita Water District serve as the lead agency was disconcerting, it is not enough in and of itself to decertify the project approval. Opponents have vowed to appeal the ruling.

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