Thursday, June 16th, Transition – Water Group hosted a meeting about the Cadiz Water Project.
On June 16th, the Transition Joshua Tree Water Group made up of residents committed to water issues in the high desert, held the second of two meetings on the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery, and Storage Project. The first TJT Water 101 took place on April 13th of this year. At that meeting, Seth Shteir, the Desert Program Manager of The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) spoke about the NPCA’s findings and concerns about the project.
Cadiz Representatives, Hydrologist Tom Henderson and Cadiz Operation Manager, Leslie Thornburg were present at both meetings but did not have a chance to speak at the first one.
Cadiz Inc is an agricultural and renewable resource company with 70 square miles of farm property and underground water resources in the Mojave Desert. The farming side of the business has been in operation since the 1980s.
According to the Cadiz website, The Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery, and Storage Project is designed to capture and conserve billions of gallons of renewable native groundwater in California’s Mojave Desert. It goes on to say, much of this water is being lost to evaporation and salt contamination at nearby dry lakes.
“Through the active management of the aquifer system and employing a state-of-the-art groundwater protection program, the Project will reduce the loss of groundwater to evaporation from the dry lakes, put this water to beneficial use and create a reliable water supply for Southern California.”
Cadiz and the Santa Margarita Water District plan to build a 43-mile pipeline that would transport groundwater from the Fenner Valley to the Colorado River Aqueduct.
Opponents of the project believe that it will extract more groundwater than can be replenished by nature and there is concern that removing this water will dry up springs on the Mojave National Preserve.
This Project has garnered a lot of opposition and has fought and won numerous court cases. The company is currently fighting for approval to lay their pipeline on existing railroad right-of-way. The BLM has informed the company that it will need Federal review.
Members of Transitions JT have received Henderson’s presentation on the project and were given two tours of the agricultural operations.
Transitions member, Matthew Smith, who invited Thornburg and Henderson, said, “we decided this [issue] needed more discussion, and that we should get the public involved.”
With the intention of giving the public a chance to hear the science from both sides and to encourage them to form their own opinions, the group held the second meeting and invited Henderson and Thornburg again. The meeting started at 6:00 PM and ended around 9:30 PM. It included the general meeting. At times, passions flared, and the discussion became heated. Water issues are very personal for both sides.
After the second meeting, Smith said, “I believe we should explore other options. Our group is ethically opposed to the water from Cadiz leaving the High Desert.
Rebecca Unger, elected member of the Joshua Basin Water District Board and a representative of the Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce, said “If the Cadiz water transfer infrastructure project ever goes through as planned to Orange County and Barstow, it will be Mullholland-esque in scope and effect. I commend the Transition Joshua Tree Water Group for bringing the Cadiz proponents together with a group of ultimate project stakeholders, from Twentynine Palms to Pioneertown, for some trenchant Q & A – on both sides of this controversial project.”
Joseph Fairbanks, Facilitator, Water Group (WG) of Transition Joshua Tree (TJT) said, “I think the debate was constructive in highlighting the wide variation in recharge estimates for this project. There is nothing as critical to our own well-being as water. We should be having many more discussions as local water districts make plans for how they will provide us water for the next 20 years, and how much they will ask us to conserve.”
At the end of the evening, both Thornburg and Henderson thanked TJT for the opportunity to speak about the project.
Thornburg said, “Tom and I were very grateful for the opportunity to present the Project to the TJTWG and engage in a discussion about what the Project is and isn’t. We know there are a lot of myths out there, but it’s important for the community to know that the Project is based on sound science, field work, and a serious commitment to protecting the desert resources we all hold dear. We were so thankful that the group was willing to listen.”
Thornburg continued, “Cadiz (and I) have been here for 30 years, and we are a good steward of our land and water resources. We will continue to be as the Project is implemented. As a neighbor, I look forward to continuing to answer any questions and involving the local community as the project moves ahead.”
For more information on the project check out these websites:
Cadiz website is http://cadizinc.com
Transitions Joshua Tree Water Group website http://transitionjoshuatree.org/water/
National Parks Conservation Association, article by Seth Shteir: https://www.npca.org/articles/611-national-parks-group-opposes-water-board-s-approval-to-drain-the-desert
I am looking forward to reporting more on this issue.
In this time of drought and climate change, water is a topic of extreme importance. As I research land and land conservation for my America – In Land We Trust Project, I continuously come across water and proposed water use or misuse.
On Thursday night I went to a Transitions – Water meeting in Joshua Tree. After the general meeting, the topic covered was the Cadiz Water Project. We heard from two representatives of the Cadiz Corporation. I will be writing about this for both The Hi-Desert Star and the Lauren Ell of the Hi-Desert Website.
In preparation for those articles and more to come, I have been researching water issues. There is a lot out there, and I know this will be an on-going study. I will post websites that I find particularly insightful.
The above site is published by the US Government and was written for children. It is the basics on Aquifers and groundwater. I find it useful. You might too.
Water Deeply is another site I have found to be informative and comprehensive. Check it out.