Press Release Apr 5, 2017

Feds Reverse Course on Desert Water Mining Scheme

Department of Interior reversed course on previous rulings and took steps to approve a dangerous groundwater mining proposal, which threatens Mojave National Preserve - the third largest national park site in the lower 48 states.

PALM SPRINGS, CA – This week, the Department of Interior reversed course and took steps that could lead to approval of a controversial groundwater mining proposal. The Cadiz Inc. proposal would pump 16 billion gallons of water per year from the Mojave Desert to southern Orange County by way of a pipeline. By draining down springs that are connected to Mojave National Preserve, the third largest national park in the lower 48 states, the Cadiz Inc. project will threaten the park as well as wildlife and plant life that rely on fragile desert water sources.

In 2015, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) found that Cadiz Inc.’s proposal to build its pipeline along an existing railroad did not constitute a railroad project, and therefore required federal review. Cadiz had attempted this loophole in order to avoid federal review. The Cadiz Inc. proposal has a history of failures. In 2002, the Metropolitan Water District, which manages the Colorado River Aqueduct that Cadiz needs access to, rejected a less egregious version of the current project proposal.

Senator Dianne Feinstein pledged to continue to fight for environmental review of the water mining proposal, noting it would “exploit a natural desert aquifer and destroy pristine public land purely for profit”.

Below is a statement by David Lamfrom, California Desert and Wildlife Director for National Parks Conservation Association

“National Parks Conservation Association is both surprised and disappointed that the Interior Department reversed in less than 100 days a determination that took years to develop. With this move, Interior is disregarding its obligation to protect desert communities, precious groundwater, and our national parklands.

"The Interior Department must keep its responsibility to examine impacts of this proposal on our public lands, including our water resources and national parks. The BLM’s 2015 ruling is supported by law, policy and commonsense – not the interests of one corporation and its shareholders.

"Cadiz has been embroiled in controversy for decades with the flawed science it has used to justify its harmful project. The project will pump an unsustainable amount of groundwater, significantly exceeding the recharge rate of the aquifer.

"The argument by Cadiz in its attempt to obtain the railroad right-of-way is absurd. A water mining project that will pump 16 billion gallons of water a year from a pristine desert aquifer is clearly not the same is a railroad project.

"National Parks Conservation Association’s opposition to the water mining proposal is echoed by local businesses, ranchers, Native American tribes and tens of thousands of national park lovers.”

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