SBCO

By Jim Steinberg, San Bernardino Sun
Posted: 05/01/15 –  7:03 PM PDT |

Three conservation groups have 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 groundwater 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.”

The three parties have filed two separate briefs in their appeal.

One alleges that the Santa Margarita Water Board improperly seized control of the complex environmental review process — which San Bernardino County officials should have overseen.

Cadiz teamed with the Santa Margarita Water District in Rancho Santa Margarita for the project, which includes a 43-mile pipeline to ship San Bernardino County groundwater into Orange County.

The second brief alleges that San Bernardino County violated its desert groundwater ordinance in approving the Cadiz project.

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