Coastkeeper Urges Orange County Water District to Reject Plan to Pump Mojave Desert Water

Cadiz water project agreement would threaten health of national monument

ORANGE COUNTY – October 26, 2016 – Orange County Coastkeeper urges the Orange County Water District to reject a plan that would pump water from the Mojave Desert town of Cadiz, threatening the health of the Mojave Trails National Monument and Mojave National Preserve. If the water district accepts a purchase agreement with Cadiz, Inc., a publicly traded corporation based in Los Angeles, Orange County would source water from the controversial Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project instead of focusing on much-needed water conservation and reuse.

Coastkeeper, independent scientists and stakeholders have expressed joint concern about the project’s severe environmental impacts.

“We don’t need to mine our water from a fragile desert ecosystem when we have more sustainable options, such as a world-renowned water recycling system, at our fingertips,” said Garry Brown, executive director of Orange County Coastkeeper. “The Orange County Water District should continue investing in long-term solutions instead of letting Cadiz use legal loopholes to exploit our public lands for profit.”

If passed, the water project would be developed within the Mojave Trails National Monument, which borders the Mojave National Preserve -- the third largest national park in the lower 48 states. Orange County Coastkeeper says Cadiz, Inc. seeks to pump 50,000 to 75,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year – for 50 years. Meanwhile, the estimate for natural groundwater replenishment in the basin is around 5,000 and 32,000 acre-feet per year, with most independent estimates at the lower end.

Coastkeeper maintains that the project would cause groundwater levels to drop substantially due to mining more water than nature would replenish, and the Cadiz Water Project would cause much needed surface water to disappear. Some springs in the Mojave Preserve could also be threatened by the project, damage the ecosystem and cause a significant impact to the surrounding protected areas and populations of bighorn sheep, desert tortoise and other animals dependent on the area’s small springs.

“Instead of operating within industry standards, Cadiz tries to get out of environmental review and lobbies to change the laws,” said Brown. “The Orange County Water District has an opportunity to stand as a leader in water management and put Cadiz’s project through the thorough environmental review it deserves.”

Coastkeeper supports responsible water management such as the Ground Water Replenishment System, stormwater capture and conservation. For more information on the Cadiz Water Project go to: http://www.coastkeeper.org/the_cadiz_project.

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ORANGE COUNTY COASTKEEPER: Orange County Coastkeeper is a member of the International Waterkeeper Alliance, which has 236 different independent programs across 29 countries. Founded in 1999, the mission of Coastkeeper is to protect and promote sustainable water resources that are swimmable, drinkable, and fishable. Coastkeeper is a nonprofit clean water organization that serves as a proactive steward of our fresh- and saltwater ecosystems. We work collaboratively with diverse groups in the public and private sectors to achieve healthy, accessible, and sustainable water resources for the region. We implement innovative, effective programs in education, advocacy, restoration, research, enforcement, and conservation. For more information, visit www.coastkeeper.org or call 714-850-1965.