Regarding “Project will leave desert high and dry, Saturday Guest Soapbox:
Stacy Doolittle accurately stated that the proposed Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project is “a very bad idea” for these reasons:
1. Pumping 50,000 acre feet per year of San Bernardino County water for 50 years, transferring it out of the county, and selling it to an Orange County water district consortium at one to two billion estimated profits to Cadiz, Inc.
2. This water is a public resource that is being sold back to the public. Plus, Cadiz, Inc. is seeking government subsidies.
3. Cadiz, Inc. claims that the aquifer is not connected to other water sources (e.g. Bonanza Springs or Mojave National Preserve), but cannot prove it.
4. According to the Los Angeles Times, San Bernardino supervisors, our public servants, have received campaign contributions from Cadiz, Inc.
5. Supervisors recently voted (4-1) for an agreement that gives the county the authority to enforce the project’s monitoring and management plan, despite the fact that, due to the nature of the project, problems can go unnoticed until too late or arise only after the project’s end.
The “very-bad-idea” project gets worse. Independent hydrologists have characterized the project as “totally unsustainable,” as more water will be pumped out of the desert than will be replaced through natural recharge.
The project has also been characterized as “high-risk activity” because the cone depression or drawdown from pumping will continue to expand for 50 years after the project ends. That means, should an impact occur to a spring or other sensitive receptor, there are no means to prevent the condition from worsening first and recovery from taking as long as a century or substantially more.
The project is flawed in many other ways, not driven by motives of conservation or recovery, and without regard to damage to the fragile desert ecosystems and effects on the region, on the people who live here, and much less on future generations.
The “recovery” in the proposed project’s title refers to recapturing the “loss” of groundwater underneath the dry lakes due to surface evaporation; it’s a spurious and circular argument, a sales pitch for the project. We all know the benefits of swamp (evaporative) coolers; they cool the air. The resulting moisture in the air is needed to sustain vegetation and wildlife in the area. However, in this form it cannot be turned into money. Their solution: The groundwater level must be drawn down so it cannot get lost anymore.
“Conservation” means “to reduce, reuse, recycle” so that something is left for future generations — not to perpetuate the self-indulgence of the few today. A project of this magnitude requires greater public confidence in its sustainability than Cadiz, Inc. is able to generate with this proposal. It is impossible to predict the outcome of pumping that much water for so long and what effect climate change will have on the region.
Water is a public trust resource. All water in the state is owned by the people of California. While water rights provide the right to reasonable and beneficial use of water, it does not provide the right to ownership of the water. No person has any vested rights to appropriate water in a manner harmful to the interests protected by the public trust. They take all the water, but we take all the risk.
Our elected officials have sworn to uphold the Constitution of both the United States and the state of California. The project is in violation of both.