Sandra Emerson, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/26/2013 08:08:38 PM PDT

Officials from the Santa Margarita Water District in Orange County and Cadiz Inc. held firm Friday in their support of the environmental studies behind a plan to pump Mojave Desert water to Southern California cities, despite a San Bernardino County congressman’s request for a federal environmental review.

In a letter to the U.S. interior secretary, released Thursday by the National Parks Conservation Association, Rep. Paul Cook, R-Apple Valley, wrote that Los Angeles-based Cadiz’s 50-year project to convey water from the desert is likely to negatively affect San Bernardino County, ranchers, rural communities and other local entities.

“Moreover,” Cook said in the letter, “the aggressive project pumping could harm the springs of the Mojave National Preserve and regional air quality, while exporting precious water resources out of San Bernardino County to ratepayers in Los Angeles and Orange counties.”

According to a statement from the Los Angeles-based Cadiz, which is heading up the project, “the call for a duplicative federal review is wasteful and unnecessarily undermines the serious efforts of Southern California water providers to safely and sustainably serve the region’s water needs and create local jobs.”

The project would pump water from a remote desert aquifer and ultimately convey it by pipeline to Southern California cities.

It would be a new source of water, officials say, for providers serving the region, and would benefit Claremont-based Three Valleys Municipal Water District, Covina-based Suburban Water Systems, San Dimas-based Golden State Water Co., the Jurupa Valley-based Jurupa Community Services District and the San Jose-based California Water Service Co.

San Bernardino County itself would also be able to purchase water through the project, officials said.

Cadiz owns 45,000 acres in eastern San Bernardino County.

The project has been fully reviewed and approved under the California Environmental Quality Act and will serve the water needs of 100,000 Southern California families and generate 5,900 jobs, according to a company statement.

Water districts echoed the point Friday.

To read entire story, click here.