Good news! California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed SB 307, protecting public lands from a groundwater pumping project which would have taken 16 billion gallons of water every year from an aquifer under the Mojave Trails National Monument. The bill puts the “Cadiz Water Project,” on hold and gives the state authority to do an environmental review to assess the impacts of the extraction on land, including sacred indigenous sites, on recreational uses, and on the desert ecosystem, including endangered species. The project, which has been pushed by Cadiz Inc. for more than two decades, was also on a Trump administration list of priorities for new infrastructure development, which led to the federal government cancelling an environmental review mandated during the Obama presidency.
SB 307 requires the State Lands Commission to determine that projects involving the transfer of water from a groundwater basin won’t adversely impact the surrounding environment, so if enforced and properly implemented it can protect other ecosystems and communities within California from adverse impacts from water extraction.
Groups organizing against the project cheered the signing, but cautioned that SB 307 slows but does not necessarily stop Cadiz, and that continued action is necessary not only to protect the Mojave area but also to fight for safe, sufficient, and affordable water and sanitation for everyone in California.