California - Cadiz Proposed Water Project

State: California
Region: Mojave Desert
Private company Cadiz Inc. is proposing to access groundwater in the ancient Fernner Basin aquifer from their property in the Mojave Desert. The aquifer lies underneath the Mojave Trails National Monument, Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park and is an important part of the fragile desert ecosystem. It is estimated to hold between 17 million and 34 million acre-feet of water, which is very slowly replenished by infrequent rainfall in the surrounding desert mountain ranges. The proposed project would pump 50,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year from the aquifer, which USGS estimates has a recharge rate of 2,000 to 10,000 acre-feet per year. Draining the aquifer for short-term use could permanently destroy a delicate and rare spring complex that supports a fragile ecosystem with a variety of flora and fauna, including big horn sheep that has been called the only source of water of its size in over 1,000 square miles of desert. The area supports a tourism economy, communities of tribes and municipalities, ranchers, salt miners and local industries.
In April 2018, a peer-reviewed scientific study confirmed that the water mining project poses a serious threat to the largest spring in California’s Mojave Trails National Monument. This new science, the first published research on this matter, contradicts Cadiz’s long-held claims that its project would not affect wildlife or water sources in the California desert.
The Trump administration is dismantling the regulatory framework that would require Cadiz to do environmental review, effectively blocking scientists from reviewing the project. The Cadiz project would increase water rates and place unnecessary strains on our public lands. Our partners are urging the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District to oppose the project, and are supporting the California Desert Protection Act (A.B. 1000) which would prohibit groundwater transfer from this delicate ecosystem.