Art, water and money

Posted on | February 12, 2012 | 2 Comments

This detail from a 1922 drawing in the Los Angeles Times shows how nesting massive reservoirs in the peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains might check floods and impound water for Southern California. Nothing near the project depicted was realized. The graphic artist wasn’t a seismologist, never mind hydrologist. He drew what was described to him.

Nearly a century has passed but graphics depicting new water projects for Southern California remain almost as antique in their wishfulness. Last week, the Orange County Register produced a beautiful drawing showing how pumps might be placed in the Cadiz Valley in such a way that water supposedly “lost” to evaporation might be captured by sinking wells hundreds of feet below the floor of the Mojave Desert. 

The accompanying article about the proposed Cadiz Valley Project was diligently and capably reported but limited because the government hydrologists whose criticisms stopped the first iteration of this project in 2002 have so far been shut out of reviewing this new incarnation.

A key demand among protestants is that independent US Geological Survey and National Park Service hydrologists be brought in to review suspect claims.

One can only hope that the Orange County Register will return to reporting on the hydrology of a project that may benefit the local Santa Margarita Water District, but stands to irreparably damage a Mojave Desert basin almost 200 miles away in San Bernardino County.

One of many Cadiz, Inc donations to San Bernardino County supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt. Source: San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters. Click to enlarge.

Elsewhere in the press last week, a report by the far less well known San Bernardino Sentinel, an Inland Empire paper so eccentric that it only puts past issues online as PDFs long after they have gone to print, reported that San Bernardino County supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt has since 2007 received $48,100 in campaign donations from Cadiz, Inc, the promoters of the water exportation to Orange County. Check the records of the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters and, lo, this is true.

The supervisor’s fundraising records are full of direct contributions from Cadiz, Inc and also covered in interesting footsteps leading to Orange County, where for some reason the supervisor’s election accountancy is performed in Rancho Santa Margarita, and where intriguingly an “Inland Empire PAC” is based, far from the actual Inland Empire. It would take a forensic accountant to unravel how much money has been funneled to Mr Mitzelfelt and others by Cadiz, Inc and its surrogates. Hopefully soon the mainstream press will turn its graphics departments on the real and the long-validated hydrologic dynamic of this project, which is: “water runs uphill to money.”

Also last week the Rancho Santa Margarita Water District extended the public comment period on the project’s draft environmental impact review to a new closing date of March 14. If you want to go see the target desert, here is a MapQuest route from Rancho Santa Margarita to Cadiz Valley.

Previously on Cadiz: Notes on public comment meetings 2/3/2012

Commenting on the unspeakable 1/23/2012

Cadiz, Inc boondoggle is back (background) 6/5/2009

Or enter Cadiz in the search box on the home page for dozens of posts about stock market bumps following questioned political endorsements.


2 Responses to “Art, water and money”

  1. Charlie
    February 12th, 2012 @ 5:29 pm

    huge dams on crumbly rock along faults towering above the LA Basin. Yeah, I’m glad those never were built. San Francis was plenty bad enough.

  2. EmilyGreen
    February 12th, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

    Yes, I agree. There were some small dams built in the 20s, now a source of difficult-to-manage amounts of silt and some water. Engineering-wise around the foothills, emphasis soon turned to canyon-mouth “debris basins.”

Leave a Reply

  • After the lawn

  • As you were saying: Comments

  • As I was saying: Recent posts

  • Garden blogs

  • Contact

    Emily Green by e-mail at [at]
  • Categories