For Immediate Release
Contact: Gary Wolff, Pacific Institute, 510-823-3935
John Bredehoeft, The Hydrodynamics Group, 307-683-3476
Courtney Cuff, National Parks Conservation Association,
Elden Hughes, Sierra Club, 562-941-5306
Mojave Water Grab
Environmental and Economic Flaws Exposed
Members of the California Delegation, Technical Experts,
and Environmentalists Raise Concerns
Environmentalists praised today the findings of two new
reports released this week on the proposed Cadiz water
project in the Mojave Desert. The economic and scientific
reports criticize the project on the grounds that it may
threaten the fragile desert ecosystem and cost southern
California ratepayers far more than supporters estimate--
concerns echoed by numerous conservation groups and by
Senator Dianne Feinstein and congressmen Jerry Lewis and
Cadiz, Inc., an agricultural company with lands in the
Mojave Desert, proposes to mine up to ten billion of gallons
of native groundwater from the aquifer beneath its land
while also using the aquifer to temporarily store Colorado
River water. Cadiz intends to sell the water to the Metropolitan
Water District, an agency that sells wholesale water to
local agencies in metropolitan southern California.
The bulk of the aquifer, however, underlies and supports
five Bureau of Land Management wilderness areas and the
Mojave National Preserve. Environmental organizations
charge that the groundwater mining could harm a national
park and federal wildernesses that overlie the aquifer
and generate serious dust storms by lowering the water
table. These impacts could harm desert wildlife including
the desert bighorn sheep and threatened desert tortoise,
listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
"Opposition is growing to Cadiz Inc.'s plan to mine
native groundwater and jeopardize priceless national treasures,
said Courtney Cuff, pacific regional director of the National
Parks Conservation Association. The hard questions
asked by Senator Feinstein and Representatives Lewis and
Calvert should make MWD seriously reconsider their support
for this project," charges Courtney Cuff, National
Parks Conservation Association, continues Cuff.
A scientific report released today by Dr. John Bredehoeft,
a former senior and researcher and manager with the United
States Geological Service and a former editor of the journal,
Groundwater, points out the flaws in the projects
monitoring system and indicates that it is unlikely to
prevent damage to the public lands and underlying aquifer.
Cadiz says that theyll be able to detect
problems when they occur. In reality, by the time they
confirm signs of trouble, it will likely be too late.
This safety net has serious holes in it, says Dr.
Bredehoeft, Ph.D. If this were just a storage project
for Colorado River water, and any pumping was confined
to what Cadiz is currently pumping for agriculture which
appears to be sustainable, most of my concerns would be
An economic report by the Pacific Institute for Studies
in Development, Environment, and Security, also released
yesterday, concludes that the project will be far more
expensive than currently estimated by Metropolitan Water
District (MWD) consultants.
The most likely cost for this water is around $850
per acre-foot, 45 percent higher than estimated by MWD
consultants, said Gary Wolff, P.E., Ph.D., principal
economist and engineer at the Pacific Institute. It
will be even more expensive if they cant take much
native groundwater: $1,050 an acre-foot or more. Since
MWDs customers currently pay around $400 per acre-foot
for wholesale water, and alternative dry-year water supply
and storage projects have much lower costs, the Cadiz
project doesnt make much economic sense. Unless,
of course, you are a stockholder in Cadiz, Inc.
An acre-foot is equal to 325,000 gallons¾enough
water to supply two households for a year.
On the heels of these reports, a coalition of more than
a dozen organizations, including the Western Environmental
Law Center, Defenders of Wildlife, California League of
Conservation Voters, and the Center for Biological Diversity
wrote Governor Gray Davis and appealed to him to oppose
the project, stating, We trust
water and lasting environmental damage are not legacies
you wish to leave.
In an August 1, 2001 letter to Secretary of Interior
Gale Norton, Senator Dianne Feinstein and congressmen
Jerry Lewis and Ken Calvert said they could not support
the Cadiz project until questions about the aquifers
recharge rate and impacts to Mojave National Preserve
and Bureau of Land Management Wildernesses and Cadiz versus
federal water rights were addressed.
Given this new information and the increasing doubt
about this project, MWD needs to reconsider its interest
in this project and figure out how its going to justify
its future support for a project that could both waste
money and lay waste to protected lands and natural resources,
said Elden Hughes of the Sierra Club.
The reports and the letter from Senator Feinstein, Congressman
Lewis and Calvert can downloaded to the right.
The letter to Governor Davis from 13 environmental organizations
can be found at: www.axelsabyss.com