May 22 2019
Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement on SB 307, California Senator Richard Roth’s (D-Riverside) bill to protect the Mojave Desert, after it was passed by the California Senate:
“Congratulations to the California Senate for passing Senator Roth’s bill to protect the Mojave Desert. This is a major step for the continued vitality of the desert, and I’m hopeful the Assembly will quickly take this bill up and advance it.
“Cadiz wants to drain a desert aquifer faster than its natural recharge rate, endangering everything that makes our desert special. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that proper protections are in place, which is what this bill does. The desert and its unique flora and fauna, like the bighorn sheep and desert tortoise, are simply too important to destroy.
“I thank all of the senators who voted for stronger protections for our desert, and I particularly thank Senator Richard Roth for leading this effort in the Senate.”
The Cadiz Water Project would drain an underground aquifer in the Mojave Desert at a rate that independent scientists have determined is unsustainable.
- Cadiz asserts that the aquifer’s water natural recharge rate is 32,000 acre-feet per year and proposes to export an average of 50,000 acre-feet from the region each year over a 50-year period.
- However, the U.S. Geological Survey has stated the recharge rate is only 2,000 to 10,000 acre-feet per year. The National Park Service has confirmed that analysis.
- In its comments on the Cadiz project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report, the National Park Service concluded that Cadiz’s estimated annual recharge rates “are not reasonable and should not even be considered.”
- The Metropolitan Water District has stated that the aquifer contains numerous contaminants including arsenic and cancer-causing Chromium-6.
- The water district, which supplies water to 19 million Californians, called Cadiz’s proposal “conceptual and incomplete.”
- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has called into question Cadiz’s 2012 CEQA environmental review, which as conducted by a potential Cadiz customer, and stated the project will require additional environmental review before it can grant necessary permits.
- The department found the review to scientifically deficient after analyzing recent scientific studies that show the aquifer Cadiz would drain is connected to neighboring desert springs, including Bonanza Spring.
- It determined that the Cadiz Project “may pose a substantially higher risk to the spring and desert bighorn sheep than the Project EIR disclosed” and that “further analysis and environmental review of these important issues will be necessary.”