Oppose the Cadiz Water Project!

  • by: NPCA org
  • recipient: Phillip J. Pace, Chairman, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
Oppose the Cadiz Water Project!

The Mojave Desert is home to an abundance of wildlife; desert tortoise, big horn sheep, coyotes, jack rabbits, bobcats and more! Unfortunately, their habitat is threatened by a looming, large-scale water project that would lower the water table critical to these animals.

The Cadiz corporation proposes to mine up to ten billion of gallons of native groundwater from the aquifer beneath its land in the Mojave desert to sell to southern California. This aquifer supports five wilderness areas and the Mojave National Preserve. Environmental organizations protest that the groundwater mining may generate serious dust storms and water shortages by lowering the water table. This would harm desert wildlife including the desert bighorn sheep and the desert tortoise, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. It would also cause serious implications for human health in the area as the dust pollution severely degrades air quality. The proposed Cadiz Water Project could:
  • Dry up mountain springs upon which desert bighorn sheep and other desert animals depend by reducing aquifers to unhealthy levels.
  • Drain the regional ground water system by relying heavily on an untested monitoring system, causing large-scale dust storms that would seriously degrade air quality.
  • Endanger the already threatened desert tortoise by creating sitting ponds which will attract tortoise predators
  • Threaten the desert ecosystem of the Mojave National Preserve and four wilderness areas by lowering the water table of the area and depleting water sources that the desert plants and animals depend on for survival!
  • Result in grossly overpriced water. The current pricing is based on the flawed assumption that unsustainable amounts of groundwater can be mined from the aquifer. Following guidelines for safe water extraction would render the cost of the water from this project so high that it makes no economic sense for the public (at least 45% higher than Cadiz proponents suggest).
The spectacular disaster that resulted from the deregulation of the electricity system in California provides a cautionary lesson about trusting long-term resource planning and management to the private sector!

ACT NOW! Tell Phillip J. Pace of the Metropolitan Water District not to leave a legacy of overpriced water and lasting environmental damage!
RE: Proposed Cadiz Groundwater Storage and Dry Year Supply Project

Dear Chairman Pace,

We write to request that you, along with all other member of the board of the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California, withdraw your support from the Cadiz Project. The Project threatens the environment, does not make economic sense and will likely advance private interest at the expense of the public trust.

As currently proposed, the Project will either cost a lot of money or mine
a lot of groundwater. There are risks to Californians and the California environment in either case. Moreover, the threats to federal lands, including the Mojave National Preserve and four designated wilderness areas, make this project one of national concern.

There are three main environmental concerns with the Cadiz Project. First, the project relies on an untested and unreliable monitoring system, the deficiencies of which are the subject of a virtual consensus in the scientific community. The integrity of the proposed system is further undermined by the Project proponents continued adherence to exaggerated estimates of the rate of replenishment for the aquifer. Banking on such an untried monitoring system and assuming an inflated recharge rate leaves the groundwater highly vulnerable to damaging overdraft, creating the likelihood of massive dust emissions from desiccated playas in the Cadiz and Bristol dry lakes and the possibility of drying up mountain springs on which desert bighorn sheep depend.

Second, the Project calls for the creation of 390 acres of freshwater spreading basins, or ponds, which are guaranteed to attract a large new population of ravens to the area. Because ravens prey heavily on juvenile tortoise, attracting large numbers of additional ravens to this arid area spells doom for struggling populations of desert tortoise in designated critical habitat areas that overlap, abut, or are close to the Project site.

Third, the Project calls for construction of intrusive conveyance facilities, including a large pipeline and five-story tall power lines and towers, across a substantial amount of currently untouched desert. Routing the power lines and pipeline through pristine desert is gratuitously destructive of the environment given the presence of two existing alternative routes, a pipeline and a railroad, that would add only minimally to the 35-mile length of the planned conveyance facilities.

Economically, too, the Project is profoundly flawed because it is predicated on the assumption that environmentally disastrous large amounts of native groundwater can be mined from the aquifer. In fact, the environmental limits on the amount of native groundwater that can safely be extracted will render the cost of the water from this project so high that it makes no economic sense for the rate paying public.

In addition, there has been a failure to recognize, let alone analyze, the added energy demands that the Cadiz Project will impose on the MWD's whole water delivery system. Those demands will be real, and they necessarily will have environmental impacts of their own. The failure to address these energy demands and environmental impacts undermines the agency's ability to reasonably approve the Project.

Further, the company that proposed this Project and stands to make an enormous amount of money from it is on the verge of bankruptcy. As their own SEC filings make clear, without the massive infusion of public funds that the Project would provide, Cadiz, Inc., will indeed go bankrupt in short order. We do not believe that relying on such an unreliable and insolvent partner is an appropriate manner to manage the people of California's critical water resources and storage needs. The spectacular disaster that resulted from the deregulation of the electricity system in our state should provide all of us with a cautionary lesson about trusting long-term resource planning and management to the private sector.

For all of these reasons, we respectfully request that you withdraw your support from the Cadiz Project. We applaud Senator Dianne Feinstein for her remarkable leadership on this issue while others have stayed silent, and hope to applaud you too for making the wise policy decision against this project. Our national parks, our wilderness areas, and the public deserve better.

The Undersigned.
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