Press Release Apr 16, 2018

Science Confirms Cadiz Water Project Would Harm the Largest Spring in Mojave Trails National Monument

A peer-reviewed scientific study confirms the Cadiz Inc. water mining proposal would threaten the largest spring in California’s largest national monument, Mojave Trails in the Mojave Desert.

Palm Springs, CA – A new peer-reviewed scientific study confirms the Cadiz Inc. 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. National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) is among the many organizations, tribes, elected officials and communities that have long opposed the Cadiz Inc. proposal to drain the desert of 16 billion gallons of water each year for 50 years.

The peer-reviewed scientific study, published in the Journal of Environmental Forensics, confirmed that Bonanza Springs, a vital water source for wildlife living in thousands of square miles of the Mojave Desert, is connected to the very aquifer the company plans to overdraft.

Importantly, the study:

  • Definitively disproves critical aspects of Cadiz’s California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review, conducted by Santa Margarita Water District – its largest proposed customer.
  • Contradicts promises made by Cadiz Inc. over the last 20 years that its project is sustainable and would not harm vital desert springs.
  • Negates Cadiz, Inc.’s contention that local rainfall is the sole source of water for Bonanza Spring. Surface water, particularly springs and seeps, is crucial to the survival of desert species; the spring source that Cadiz Inc. aims to tap has been identified as sacred by Native American tribes in the region.

“It’s reassuring to see peer reviewed science confirm that Cadiz Inc., a groundwater mining company, indeed failed to understand the hydrology related to its project and consequently ignored the grave threats it poses to our water and wild lands,” said David Lamfrom, National Parks Conservation Association’s California Desert and Wildlife Campaign Director. “We now know Cadiz incorrectly assessed the source of the most important spring, failed to identify the presence of several springs in the region and didn’t disclose the ownership of the land its project would use. The report confirms concerns that have been raised for generations here in the Mojave Desert over harm that the project would cause, which Cadiz has long-denied. It’s crucial that this data be considered in the environmental review of the proposal, which in its current form threatens the Mojave Trails National Monument and national parks in the California desert.”

The new science confirms concerns raised by the National Park Service and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and echoed by California Senior Senator Dianne Feinstein. Cadiz has consistently stated that the agencies’ science was “outdated.” The new findings refute such a claim.

“As former Superintendent of Mojave National Preserve, I spent my career protecting our national parks – and I know the Cadiz project well,” said Mary Martin, Former Superintendent of Mojave National Preserve. “This project represented the greatest threat to the region during my tenure and continues decades later to be an existential threat to the sacred water of the desert. National Park Service science has identified serious flaws with the project which were not fully analyzed during state review. The new science shows that Cadiz has yet to discuss the true impacts of this project with the public and speaks to why federal review was required before the Trump administration reversed this policy.”

The Cadiz Inc. proposal, which has persisted despite nearly two decades of controversy, has benefited from reversed decisions and lax regulation by the Trump administration. NPCA recently sued the Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in federal court in the District of Columbia for abruptly changing policy and procedures to allow uses of railroad rights-of-way that can threaten important resources, including national parks and monuments. Pointing to the Cadiz, Inc. water mining project, NPCA alleges that Interior’s new policy illegally green-lighted the construction and operation of a pipeline across federal lands without a permit or environmental review.

“The Cadiz project has benefitted from the Trump administration’s removal of the same federal review that would be required of any similar water project,” said Mark Wenzler, Senior Vice President of Conservation Programs for National Parks Conservation Association. “Such review would have flagged concerns previously raised by the Park Service and USGS, which are now confirmed by this peer-reviewed study. This administration is not holding the Cadiz project accountable for its known impacts to the remarkable Mojave Trails National Monument. NPCA stands with the community members, elected officials and all who care for California Desert national parks, water and wild lands in defending this national treasure from having the very life drained out of it.”

Mojave Trails National Monument, the largest in California at 1.8 million acres, was designated in 2016. Mojave Trails connects Joshua Tree National Park to Mojave National Preserve, creating a large and living landscape to be protected in perpetuity. Mojave Trails is under review through President Trump’s April 2017 executive order that targeted it and 26 other national monuments and is one of California’s most threatened monuments due to the conflict over the Cadiz water project, located on private lands within its boundary.

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About National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.3 million supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit

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