05 Apr SB 307 goes against state’s water needs
Friday, April 5, 2019
Editorial: SB 307 goes against state’s water needs
Orange County Register
Riverside Press Enterprise
Southern California News Group
California is finishing one of its rainiest winters in decades, which leaves most of us pining for less water rather than more of it. But it wasn’t long ago the state was facing a devastating and persistent drought. Rain comes and goes, but this mostly arid state still has a growing population. There is continual need for new water resources.
That’s why we’re disappointed that Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, have reintroduced legislation designed to cripple a long-planned water project in the Mojave Desert. Senate Bill 307 prohibits water transfers unless two agencies agree that the transfers do not harm state and federal desert lands. But it’s really about ! one thing: Stopping the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project.
Cadiz would use groundwater from private agricultural land that would otherwise evaporate. It would then ship it via pipeline along existing railroad tracks to 400,000 urban water users in Southern California. It’s an example of using private markets to divert scarce water resources from unpopulated areas to metropolises. Unfortunately, Cadiz was gotten caught up in national politics, with the Obama administration hobbling it and the Trump administration giving it a greenlight.
Opponents cite various environmental concerns, but this project already has gone through years of government approvals, including meandering its way through the onerous California Environmental Quality Act review. If a resource- related project can get through CEQA, then it’s! hard to believe that poses any more serious environmental iss! ues that haven’t been hashed out.
In fact, when the same issue came up last year, a group of prominent business, building industry and union groups complained that the legislation “disregards CEQA as the final arbiter or environmental safety.” They worried about the “dangerous precedent” that would “make uncertain the finality of CEQA reviews. Yet here we are again.
The Cadiz project has been thoroughly vetted and meets an important need. It’s time legislators let it proceed.
They need to remind themselves that it might not be long before California is desperately seeking water resources again.