Published: 06 December 2011 08:51 AM

A draft environmental impact report for a controversial underground water storage project in the Cadiz Valley of the Mojave Desert has been released and is available for public comment.

The project, first proposed in 2001, would involve burying 44 miles of pipeline to move surplus Colorado River water to an underground basin the size of Rhode Island. The water rights under 35,000 acres belong to Cadiz Inc., which also wants to tap water from beneath nearby dry lake beds that it says would otherwise be lost to evaporation.

The water would be used by communities in Southern California.

But environmentalists have objected to the plan, which they say would deplete ancient groundwater basins that feed area springs and sustain local wildlife. One-third of the aquifer sits below the Mojave National Preserve.

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