Unfortunately for the people of San Bernardino County, the Board of Supervisors recently voted 4-1 to allow Cadiz Inc. to draw and sell more than 1 million acre feet of water from the desert aquifer over 50 years despite strong protest from several environmental groups, water experts and concerned desert residents.
The scientific modeling and methodology used to determine the over-draft impacts on the water basin is shaky at best, and uncertain as to the potential environmental impacts on the many desert creatures, including the people who reside in the High Desert.
As an elected official who has decades of experience in the management and production of water resources, I see no positive benefit from this project for San Bernardino County residents and taxpayers. The primary project beneficiaries live 200 miles away and would use this water to keep their water rates lower. It was stated at the hearing that 70 percent of the water used by the Santa Margarita residents goes to maintaining the landscaping and greenbelts. This is not only bad water management; it is also bad water conservation.
Even though this project is going through the approval processes and environmental review, the project lacks support and approval of the Metropolitan Water District, and has not obtained the taxpayer funding necessary to make the project feasible. Several lawsuits have already been filed and no doubt more will follow.
Finally, it should be noted that this is not the first attempt to approve this project. Ten years ago, Cadiz Inc.'s chief officer proposed a similar project which failed to receive the support of the Metropolitan Water District and the critical subsidies essential to make the project viable. It is very unlikely that Cadiz will convince the MWD to support this current proposal.
Simply stated, there is no right way to do the wrong thing, and it is abundantly clear to me that this is the wrong thing to do.
Vice President, Board Of Directors, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District