Urgent: Time Sensitive Alert: Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project

posted Mar 26, 2012, 9:34 PM by JTCA Contact

The Cadiz Valley Water Conservation Recovery and Storage Project is a plan to pump an average of 50,000 acre feet per year from underneath the Mojave Desert, transfer it via a 42 mile conveyance pipeline to the Colorado River Aqueduct and ship it to Southern California cities. Independent hydrologists have characterized the Cadiz project as “Totally unsustainable” as the aquifer will be in overdraft conditions for the life of the project. This means that more water will be pumped out of the desert aquifer and transferred to cities in Los Angeles and Orange Counties than will be replaced through natural recharge. Our contention is that this project violates one of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisor’s key goals and objectives, “To Ensure Development of a Well-Planned, Balanced, and Sustainable County.”

The project has also been characterized by our independent hydrologist as a “High risk activity” because the cone of depression, or drawdown, from project pumping will continue to expand for 50 years after the project ends. What this means is that should an impact occur to a spring or other sensitive receptor, there are no means to prevent the condition from initially worsening, and recovery from taking as long as a century or substantially more time. Therefore a project of this type demands a higher level of confidence in the results of the analysis than is provided by the hydrogeologic impact analyses.

The project is also a dangerous precedent because it permits a private company to intercept water originating on public lands, privatize it and then sell it back to the public for a substantial profit. Finally, we find the lead agency for this project, the Santa Margarita Water District, inappropriate as it is not located in San Bernardino County, but in far away in Orange County, and stands to directly benefit from the project.

Recently, San Bernardino County, Santa Margarita Water District and the Cadiz, Inc. have expanded their environmental review to include discussions regarding Groundwater Management, and measures that would be introduced into a Groundwater Management Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), that would be required to mitigate any impacts related to the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project. The County plans to vote on an agenda item tomorrow that sets the limits on reimbursable county costs by the Santa Margarita Water District and Cadiz, Inc. to $100,000, and to increase the County’s contract amount with Downey Brand Attorneys LLC, who serve as special counsel on this project to $350,000.

Call or send these Supervisors an e-mail today or early tomorrow and request:

  1. A continuance on the vote for this item be delayed at least until May’s Board Meeting as many desert residents would like to have time to comment on San Bernardino County’s actions and attend meetings related to the Cadiz Project.
  2. On the new date, the Agenda item be accompanied by a full presentation highlighting the need for this project, alternatives to the project, why an Orange County water district is the lead agency and how this project is reconciled with the Supervisor’s goal “To ensure development of a well planned, balanced and sustainable County.”


  • Brad Mitzelfelt
    Andy Silva

  • Neil Derry
    (909) 387-4855
    Alan Rasmussen, Field Representative

  • Josie Gonzales
    Dan Flores, Chief of Staff

  • Janice Rutherford
    Second District Supervisor
    (909) 387-4833

  • Gary Ovitt
    Fourth District Supervisor
    (909) 387-4866

  • Seth Shteir
    California Desert Field Representative
    National Parks Conservation Association
    61325 Twentynine Palms Highway, Suite B
    Joshua Tree, CA 92252
    760-366-7785 Office
    760-332-9776 Cell