THE CADIZ WATER PROJECT IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
An innovative, new sustainable water source for Southern California, the Cadiz Water Project is a public-private partnership between Cadiz Inc. and the Santa Margarita Water District, Orange County’s second-largest water agency. The project will prevent the annual loss of groundwater to evaporation in the eastern Mojave Desert and create a new water supply – enough for 100,000 families a year – and a groundwater bank for Southern California water providers.
The Project will be located at the base of a significant desert watershed in Cadiz, approximately 80 miles from Barstow, California. Rain and snow that fall in the watershed’s upper elevations percolate below the ground and filter through cracks in bedrock and porous alluvial to enter a huge underground aquifer, which holds as much water as Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir. Over time, the groundwater eventually flows to highly saline playas or “dry lakes” at the bottom of the watershed, where it evaporates and is lost.
By constructing and operating a wellfield on private property owned by Cadiz, the Cadiz Water Project will recover an annual average of 50,000 acre-feet of groundwater before it evaporates, so that it can be put to beneficial use each year for 50 years. A pipeline will be constructed within an active railroad right-of-way from the Project area to the Colorado River Aqueduct, which will carry it to Southern California water users.
The Project will be governed by a comprehensive groundwater management program that will be enforced by the County of San Bernardino. Over the course of the project’s 50-year life, approximately 5 percent of the aquifer’s water will be pumped, and water levels cannot fall more than 80 feet below the water table. The Project’s open, transparent regulatory review resulted in separate and independent approvals under the California Environmental Quality Act and the San Bernardino County Desert Groundwater Ordinance. Both approvals were upheld against six separate legal challenges in Orange County Superior Court in 2014, and sustained by the California Court of Appeal in 2016. The Project and its environmental studies are not subject to any further review or litigation under State law.
The Cadiz Water Project is the most shovel-ready, environmentally benign new water project in drought-prone California. Once construction begins, the Water Project will generate nearly a billion dollars of economic stimulus, employ thousands of people and provide more than a billion dollars in water quality and water supply reliability benefits to portions of six Southern California counties, all without public subsidies of any kind.