Senator Feinstein In Last Desperate Effort To Block Cadiz Water Project

In illustration of how close Los Angeles-based Cadiz, Inc. is to getting final clearance to extract millions of gallons of water per year from the east Mojave Desert for domestic use in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties, Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-California, on Wednesday May 24, made called on the Trump administration to continue a policy of preventing the use of a Mojave Desert railroad right-of-way for the controversial Cadiz Water Project.
Los Angeles-based Cadiz, Inc wants to pump large volumes of water from wells it owns in the remote Cadiz Valley and send it by pipeline a distance of roughly 40 miles along the railroad right of way owned by the Arizona & California Railroad to the Colorado River Aqueduct. The water then could be sold to Southern California water providers. In a ploy that environmentalists and other opponents of the project considered an unprincipled display of sleight of hand, the proponents of the project in 2012 arranged to have the Santa Margarita Water District in Orange County, which is one of the entities that is lined up to purchase the water from Cadiz, Inc., serve as the agency that approved the project and oversaw its environmental certification, despite the consideration that the district is some 235 miles away from the project site.
A series of environmental challenges and lawsuits delayed the implementation of the project. Cadiz, Inc. has succeeded in overcoming all of those lawsuits or having them dismissed. The last obstruction to the project is a 2015 U.S. Bureau of Land Management decision that Cadiz, Inc. could not use the existing federal railroad right-of-way for the water pipeline it intends to construct to convey water drawn from the aquifer to the Colorado River Aqueduct without going through a federal environmental review, under the the National Environmental Policy Act. The company has not undertaken that study, let alone completed it. The Donald Trump Administration has shown support for the project, and in the form of a memo from a Bureau of Land Management acting assistant director in April, revoked two of the legal bases for the agency’s 2015 decision.
Cadiz, Inc. has now asked the federal government to expedite giving it the all clear to proceed. Such an okay is anticipated within the next several weeks.
On May 23, Feinstein wrote a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, requesting that his agency uphold the Bureau of Land Management’s 2015 determination that Cadiz cannot use the railroad right-of-way on federal property to convey water drawn from beneath the fragile Mojave Desert without further federal environmental reviews.
“If Cadiz is successful in building its project, a major aquifer that sustains life in California’s Mojave Desert will be destroyed,” Feinstein said publicly. “This would be a terrible legacy for this administration to allow the destruction of all that we’ve done to preserve this amazing desert for posterity.”
Cadiz officials say taking water out of the desert will not hurt it. –Mark Gutglueck

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