San Bernardino County approves Cadiz groundwater pumping plan
Voting 4 to 1, with 3rd District Supervisor Neil Derry voicing the lone no, the board approved a management document that spells out monitoring and pumping requirements intended to avert environmental harm.
But the county would still allow Cadiz to withdraw considerably more water than is naturally recharged to the desert aquifer, drawing it down by slightly more than 1 million acre-feet over the 50-year life of the project.
Critics, including officials at the nearby Mojave National Preserve, contend the plan would make it difficult to prove that any harm was the result of the project as opposed to drought cycles or climate change.
Cadiz proposes to extract enough water every year to supply 100,000 Southland homes. Opponents, including major environmental groups and a labor union, have filed five lawsuits to block the project, which is surrounded by public land 200 miles east of Los Angeles.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) has demanded federal review of the proposal and Cadiz must obtain permission from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to transport the groundwater to customers via the Colorado River Aqueduct.
The company -- headed by Keith Brackpool, the politically connected chairman of the California Horse Racing Board -- has yet to obtain financing for the project, estimated to cost $225 million to $275 million.
-- Bettina Boxall
Photo: Cadiz Inc. hopes to extract enough groundwater from the Mojave Desert every year to supply 100,000 Southland homes. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times