A previous post, Rancho Santa Margarita, Meet Calleguas, hit a hornet’s nest. The decision to write it was little more than an instinct. “Poke there.” The post referred to something called the “Las Posas Basin Aquifer Storage and Recovery Project,” described by the Los Angeles Times during the project’s inception in the 1990s as “the largest reservoir in Ventura County, ensuring a reliable water supply in cities from Simi Valley to Oxnard in the event of drought or earthquake.”
Las Posas wasn’t big. It was bigger. “The $47-million project near Moorpark will hold more water than Lake Casitas and nearly four times what Lake Piru holds,” reported the Times.
Until it didn’t. When last month the Ventura County Reporter recounted that the capacity proved to not be the much-celebrated 300,000 acre feet, but instead 50,000 acre feet, no villain was named. Who needs a villain when, as the …
UPDATED 5/11/2012: As the board of the Rancho Santa Margarita Water District wades through the Draft Environmental Impact Report produced for them by their partners at Cadiz, Inc in the bid to involve the Orange County municipal water company in a water mining scheme in the Mojave Desert, let us pause to look at some bona fides of a lead Cadiz consultant. Cadiz engineer Terry Foreman would have Rancho Santa Margarita believe that “using 50,000 acre-feet per year is optimal for conservation” from a basin with recharge that is perhaps one tenth of that, and that mining groundwater poses “no long-term impacts to the desert environment.”
Believe that and you’ll believe in chocolate cake diets, so it seems unlikely that anyone involved in the project really cares about the Mojave. Yet when it comes to cost, the Rancho Santa Margarita Water District board of directors …
Cadiz, Inc today announced that it has optioned use of a derelict gas line to ship northern Californian water to the Mojave Desert for long-term storage by southern Californian cities. Personally, I’m waiting for the announcement that it will be helicoptering in melting icebergs whose freshwater might otherwise be lost to salty seas. For more than a decade, Cadiz has styled its proposal to pump from 50,000 to 80,000 acre feet of water a year from a Mojave dry valley as a “conservation” project on the grounds that in addition to pulling water it could also conceivably bank surplus water from the Colorado River.
If it were possible to raise Elden Hughes from the dead, the release today of the draft environmental impact report on the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project would do it. A recipient of the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award for his work protecting California deserts, Hughes — who died on Sunday in Joshua Tree — was an integral part of the drive that in 2002 temporarily defeated a scheme by Cadiz, Inc to mine an ancient reserve of groundwater near the Mojave National Preserve.
For background on the Cadiz project, click here. To hear Hughes on KPCC’s Larry Mantle Show after the Cadiz project was revived in 2009, here. Do, while reading, be sure to click here for a fine obituary on Hughes by the LA Times’s Louis Sahagun.
IN APRIL 2009, a man of big hats, big talk and big reputation, S. David Freeman, was appointed Deputy Mayor of the City of Los Angeles for Energy and Environment. The job vaulted the Tennessean and former General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power back into the forefront of water issues just as the State Legislature tried to pass a massive block of water bills. Last week, that legislation failed, and Freeman thinks that’s just as well for Los Angeles.