Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 5, 2017

Contact: Ileene Anderson, (323) 654-5943,

California Bill Could Block Cadiz Project

Safeguards Would Protect Mojave Desert Groundwater

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— California Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) today introduced legislation to prohibit groundwater pumping near protected lands that would harm natural or cultural resources or wildlife habitat. 

Assembly Bill 1000 could prevent projects such as Cadiz Inc., which would pump 16 billion gallons a year from a desert aquifer, draining precious groundwater vital to Mojave National Preserve and other irreplaceable public lands and wildlife.

“The Trump administration has put the Cadiz money-making scheme at the top of its infrastructure priority list. California legislators can stop it,” said Ileene Anderson, senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We know California lawmakers have the courage and foresight to stand up for the state's residents, wildlife, public lands and precious water.”

The Cadiz project, which would drain groundwater from the Mojave Desert and send it to southern Orange County to fuel sprawling development, is opposed by Orange County ratepayers, who will pay exorbitant prices for the water. Also opposing Cadiz are San Bernardino County desert residents, state and federal public agencies, and a local mining company. San Bernardino County supervisors approved the project despite the fact that it would violate the county's own groundwater ordinance, created a decade ago to thwart a similar Cadiz project.

The latest Cadiz project threatens to dry up life-sustaining desert springs in the Mojave National Preserve, the surrounding Mojave Trails National Monument, and adjacent wilderness areas. Loss of the springs would kill vegetation and destroy key habitat for a host of desert wildlife, including desert tortoises , bighorn sheep, Mojave fringe-toed lizards and kit foxes.

“It's mind-boggling that any elected official would approve unsustainable groundwater mining to fuel further urban sprawl,” Anderson said. “Kudos to Assemblywoman Friedman for not kowtowing to the Trump administration and corporate lobbyists. Hopefully this legislation will be adopted quickly and sent to Governor Brown for his signature.”

Larger Southern California water districts, including the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, have rejected similar proposals from the Cadiz company over the past decade. Government hydrologists from the U.S. Geological Survey have determined that the project is unsustainable and that the company's privately funded study vastly overstates the aquifer's recharge rate.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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