National Parks Group Opposes Water Board’s Approval to Drain the Desert

For Immediate Release

National Parks Group Opposes Water Board’s Approval to Drain the Desert

Statement by Seth Shteir, California Desert Field Representative, National Parks Conservation Association

WASHINGTON - On Tuesday, July 31, despite vigorous opposition from environmental groups and Orange County water activists, the Santa Margarita Water District board certified the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project Final Environmental Impact Report.  The board’s action removes an obstacle in implementing a project that threatens to deplete the Mojave Desert’s precious groundwater at an average rate of 50,000 acre feet per year for fifty years and send it to Los Angeles and Orange County cities. 

“The Santa Margarita Water District’s board decision to certify what is essentially the Cadiz water mining project jeopardizes precious Mojave Desert groundwater resources, air quality, and the springs of the Mojave National Preserve.  We feel the water board did not adequately consider all of the evidence before them, choosing instead to irresponsibly approve the Cadiz Inc. water withdrawal proposal. It’s ironic that the word ‘conservation’ is in the title of this project, as independent research has found exactly the opposite – that this project will not leave a drop for future generations.” 

“The National Parks Conservation Association and a consortium of other environmental groups consulted with a hydrologist, who found that there are fundamental flaws in Cadiz’s hydrologic modeling.  Independent research found the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage project to be totally unsustainable, as it would pump more water out of the desert aquifer than would be replaced by natural recharge over the project’s 50 year lifespan.   Despite Cadiz’s claims that their project won’t adversely impact the Mojave National Preserve’s springs, the National Park Service states that conclusion is premature and that some Preserve springs are likely connected to the deeper water table that would be subject to pumping.

“If this project is implemented, we’ll regret it in years to come because of the damage it will do to groundwater resources and the harm it could do to the springs of the Mojave National Preserve, one of our national treasures. In short, the proposed Cadiz project is simply poor policy that would take public water resources, privatize them, and ultimately sell them back to the public for profit. In comparison to our national parks, considered our country’s ‘best idea,’ this project is among the worst ideas for the health of the overall California desert and the many individuals, animals, ecosystems, and economies that rely on it. We must use long term thinking to ensure that our natural resources and national treasures such as Mojave National Preserve are protected and preserved for our children and grandchildren. The National Parks Conservation Association will not stand by and allow this project to move forward.”

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NPCA is a non-profit, private organization dedicated to protecting, preserving, and enhancing the U.S. National Park System.

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