The Cadiz Water Project is a public-private partnership committed to providing a sustainable water supply and storage option to California communities. It has successfully been locally approved, completed a robust review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the most rigorous environmental protection law in the nation, and will be subject to a special review by the State Lands Commission. California courts have upheld all of its permits and approvals. We continue our mission of delivering safe water to California communities in need despite false claims from those opposed to the project. Below are corrections to some of the erroneous information:
MYTH: The Cadiz Project will drain the desert.
FACT: The Cadiz Project will manage a groundwater basin beneath an agricultural operation to conserve water lost to evaporation and enable storage opportunities. The Cadiz area watershed is 1,300 square miles, about three times the size of the City of Los Angeles. It already contains between 17 million and 34 million acre-feet of water underground, more than the largest surface reservoir in America. Less than half of 1% of the water in the system can be delivered as water supply per year under the court-approved groundwater management plan. San Bernardino County can halt operations if groundwater levels fall too low or any harm is anticipated.
MYTH: The Project will dry up Bonanza Spring, the closest natural spring to the Project area.
FACT: Cadiz lies at the base of an extensive watershed. Bonanza Spring is 11 miles away and about 1,500 feet higher in elevation. Extensive study of Bonanza Spring, field work during the CEQA process, and independent peer review have demonstrated that it is hydrologically and geologically disconnected from the Project area and therefore making it impossible for the project to impact the springs. The County of San Bernardino’s Groundwater Management, Monitoring and Mitigation Plan (GMMMP) for the Project monitors this spring to avoid harm. This topic is the subject of an ongoing public agency study being completed in 2020, which is expected to resolve how the project can be operated under conditions that fully protect the springs.
MYTH: The Project is dead; California will never approve it.
FACT: There is no evidence that the Project cannot be implemented in a sustainable manner to support California’s supply and storage needs. California adopted a new law in 2019 that requires the State Lands Commission to conduct additional review of efforts like the Cadiz Water Project that are in the desert and will convey or wheel water in excess capacity of a public conveyance system. The intent of the law is to ensure review of these projects by a state-level authority. The review must be based on an application filed by the project proponent, including the scientific and permitting record. To date, the Cadiz Water Project has been approved by every regulatory body by which it has been evaluated. California has no water to waste, and it would be extraordinary for the State to completely thwart an opportunity to provide storage and supply to support communities in need.
MYTH: The Project threatens the desert tortoise and other wildlife.
FACT: Definitive scientific review and the environmental impact report shows groundwater at Cadiz is more than 100 feet below the surface, too deep and out of reach for plants or animals to access. In areas where groundwater comes closer to the surface, it is hypersaline and too salty to support life. Desert plants and animals rely on surface water from precipitation.
MYTH: The Project will negatively impact Joshua Tree National Park and other federal lands.
FACT: The Project is 80 miles away from the Joshua Tree National Park. It is located in the Mojave Desert at a long-time agricultural operation that is crossed by major highways, pipelines, railroads. All project facilities of the Cadiz Water Project will be built entirely on private, disturbed agricultural land, not on public land. It will occur within existing, approved transportation corridors to ensure no environmental impact to public lands.
MYTH: The Project is unnecessary; There are other options for a water supply for Southern California.
FACT: 1 million Californians lack reliable access to clean water. This problem disproportionately impacts disadvantaged communities with higher rates of poverty in both rural and urban areas. Southern California’s traditional water supplies from the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Colorado River are under regulatory restrictions and would require additional infrastructure development to increase delivery at historic capacities. California’s hydrology is changing due to climate change. Conservation and recycling alone cannot meet these challenges. By offering a supplemental water supply in Southern California as well as groundwater banking, the Project can help offset the region’s current reliance on water imports and will help prepare for inevitable dry years. As part of the water infrastructure system, the project can ensure all communities have access to the reliable, safe and affordable water supply they deserve.
MYTH: The Project has no support.
FACT: The Cadiz Water Project is an innovative public-private partnership that will create a new water supply that can annually serve 400,000 people in need. It has received local, state and federal approvals and been reviewed and upheld in court. The Project will create and support more than 5,900 jobs, generate more than $878 million in economic activity for Southern California, and diversify California’s water infrastructure. It enjoys broad-based bi-partisan support across labor, business and community interests. The Cadiz Water Project has undergone a thorough, transparent environmental review and approval under CEQA, upheld by the California Superior Court and the Court of Appeal. It was named a national infrastructure priority in 2017 after being nominated by labor unions.
MYTH: Cadiz is a pet project of the Trump Administration.
FACT: Cadiz has been the subject of review and approval by multiple federal administrations and received bipartisan support at all levels of government. The US Bureau of Land management in multiple administrations has changed its legal guidance governing the use of railroad corridors for secondary infrastructure and the Cadiz Project has been a test case in that debate. Ultimately, Federal Court determined in 2019 that the current Administration’s policy allowing colocation of infrastructure in railroad rights-of-way correctly interprets the law.