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Letter: Cadiz Water Project For Water, Jobs And The Environment

This letter to the editor by Cadiz, Inc. VP Courtney Degener appeared in the April 10 edition of the Coyote Chronicle, the Cal State San Bernardino campus newspaper:

Last month’s article, “Cadiz Controversy, Is the environment at risk?” left out critical information about the Cadiz Water Project and allowed untrue claims by project opponents to go unchecked. As a result, the story established a false choice for your readers between the Project’s “water and jobs” on one side and desert environmental protection on the other.

It is true the Cadiz Water Project will provide new water for up to 400,000 people and generate 6,000 jobs, including jobs for local unions and veterans. But, the Project is not simply water and jobs; its most paramount goal is to be environmentally benign and the record reflects that commitment. Here are some important facts about the Project that opponents often ignore, but your readers should know:

  1. Cadiz Inc. is Home to San Bernardino County’s Largest Agricultural Operation

Cadiz Inc. was founded in 1983 and owns more than 45,000 acres of land with water rights in eastern San Bernardino County. We’ve farmed in the Cadiz Valley for nearly 30 years, relying on groundwater to irrigate various crops such as lemons and grapes. In addition to our farming operations, we own the largest desert tortoise land conservation bank permitted in California, which is managed in partnership with the San Diego Habitat Conservancy and San Diego Zoo.

  1. The Cadiz Water Project will Conserve Water Presently Wasted to Evaporation

Cadiz lies at the base of a 1,300 square mile watershed that contains 17-34 million acre-feet of water in storage underground–more water than in Lake Mead, the nation’s largest surface reservoir. Groundwater comes from precipitation that falls in the surrounding mountains, which rise over 7,000 feet in elevation. Each year, approximately 32,000 acre-feet (10.4 billion gallons) recharges the system and ultimately reaches the base of the watershed, at an area called Dry Lakes that are below sea level and ten times saltier than the Pacific Ocean. Groundwater that reaches the Dry Lakes wicks up through their crusty surface and evaporates every day. While farming, we observed this ongoing loss and proposed better managing the basin to control the losses, provide new water for beneficial uses and a location for storage of surplus water. This became the objective of the Cadiz Water Project.

Read the rest of the letter here.

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