County Now Trying To End Cadiz Project Litigation

(April 19) Demurrer motions brought by Cadiz, Inc., the county of San Bernardino,  and the Santa Margarita Water District relating to two lawsuits filed by Tetra Technologies  are being considered by Orange County Superior Court Judge Gail Angler.
Tetra Technoligies, a salt mining operation near Amboy, filed several lawsuits challenging Orange County-based Santa Margarita Water  District’s approval of Cadiz, Inc.’s project to extract as much as 75,000 acre feet of water per year from aquifers in the Eastern Mojave Desert and transport that water via pipeline to Riverside, Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Santa Margarita, which has agreed to purchase a portion of the water from Cadiz, acted as the lead agency overseeing both the approval and environmental certification of the project. San Bernardino County, which contemplated challenging  Santa Margarita’s role as lead agency, instead last May entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Cadiz and Santa Margarita to facilitate the project and in October approved a plan groundwater management plan to allow the project to proceed.
In two of its lawsuits, Tetra Technologies asserted that the MOU should have been subject to the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.
Lawyers representing the county, Cadiz and Santa Margarita, however, in demurrer motions sought to have the lawsuits dismissed, asserting that the MOU merely set down a framework by which the cooperation between the parties could proceed and did not constitute approval of the project.
Robert Bower, an attorney for Tetra Technologies, however, told Angler that the approval of the MOU committed the county to a course of action, namely the approval of the project.

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