By Jim Steinberg, The Sun
Posted: 05/01/15 – 7:04 PM PDT |

Three conservation groups filed their opening briefs in an appeal to block Los Angeles-based Cadiz Inc. from pumping Mojave Desert water and shipping much of it out of San Bernardino County to meet the needs of South Orange County residents.

Last year, six Orange County Superior Court judgements upheld various governmental approvals and environmental reviews of the project which involves the pumping of 16 million gallons of Mojave Desert land for up to 50 years.

“Let’s call this what it is: a water-privatization scheme that will ship San Bernardino’s water resources, essential to the health of the ecosystem, off to fuel suburban sprawl in Orange County,” said Adam Keats, head of the Center for Biological Diversity’s California Water Project.

Joining the center in the appeal, before California’s Fourth Appellate District in Santa Ana, are the San Gorgonio Chapter of the Sierra Club and the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society.

“All these arguments have been raised previously in court,” said Scott Slater, Cadiz CEO. “And the judge did not agree.”

“In the USA, they are entitled to pursue their relief in court…we understand they may be disgruntled and grumpy and doing something that they passionate about…we will continue doing things the right way and soldier on,” Slater said, in a telephone interview Friday.

“The so-called Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project is none of these things,” said Drew Feldmann, chairman of the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society in a prepared statement.

“It’s just a scheme to destroy the aquifer so a single corporation can make more money, under the guise of securing water supply for wealthy residents of Orange County,” Feldmann’s statement said.

He could not be reached for comment Friday.

“One of our concerns is that in taking water out of the desert, they will lower the water table and eliminate springs which are critical desert habitant that we still have under these drought conditions,” Kim Floyd, conservation chairman for the San Gorgonio Chapter of the Sierra Club, said in an interview Friday.

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