Press Release Dec 16, 2023

Biden administration to Cadiz: Pipeline cannot be used for controversial water mining project

Decision sets up "intensive” federal environmental review of the controversial proposal

Joshua Tree, Calif. – One year after blocking the proposed Cadiz groundwater mining project in federal court, the Biden administration informed Cadiz that it does not have permission to use a key pipeline for its project, and that, “seeking to use the existing pipeline to transport water would require intensive environmental studies of those potential impacts associated with the transport of water, including Cadiz’s extraction of water from its underground aquifer, to the surrounding federal lands.”


At issue is an abandoned natural gas pipeline, regulated by federal and state governments, that Cadiz seeks to use for transporting and selling water from its proposed groundwater mining project that would overdraft the aquifer underlying Mojave Trails National Monument and Mojave National Preserve. A federal court ruled last year to rescind a previous pipeline permit that allowed Cadiz to transport water, siding with the Biden administration and tribal communities.

Subsequently, Cadiz was granted the pipeline permit, but now including terms unfavorable to the proposed groundwater mining project. The federal government included terms prohibiting Cadiz from using the pipeline for the groundwater mining project and limiting its use to only natural gas . Additionally, in response to Federal elected officials raising concerns about the Cadiz project’s proposed impacts on the fragile Mojave Desert, the BLM wrote there will be “intensive” federal environmental review if Cadiz seeks permission to use the pipeline for its project. Finally, the terms state that if Cadiz does not put the pipeline into use for natural gas within two years, the BLM will terminate the pipeline permit.

“The Cadiz project has failed to materialize for decades because it would be a major disaster for national park lands, Tribal nations, and California communities that are already feeling the impacts of drought and climate change,” said Luke Basulto, California Desert Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “Today’s decision further boxes in Cadiz, which continues to lack numerous state and federal permits.”

The Cadiz groundwater mining project threatens to drain the Mojave Desert of 16 billion gallons of water annually, an unsustainable outflow that would have disastrous impact on nearby protected lands like Mojave Trails National Monument and Mojave National Preserve. Federal scientists have previously found that the Cadiz project would extract up to 25 times more groundwater than is naturally recharged.

This unsustainable pumping would severely damage resources throughout the Mojave Desert, including habitat for rare desert wildlife such as tortoises and bighorn sheep. The Cadiz project is opposed by the National Congress of American Indians, the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations, and numerous California desert tribes in this fight for indigenous rights and cultural survival.

About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.6 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit