The south Orange County water district is the lead agency for the environmental review of the project, which would provide a new supplemental supply of water for itself and several other water agencies in Southern California.
Cadiz Inc., which has a Los Angeles office, and the Rancho Santa Margarita-based water district propose to build a 43-mile pipeline that would divert surplus groundwater from San Bernardino County's Fenner Valley, about 40 miles northeast of Twentynine Palms and south of the Mojave National Preserve, to the Colorado River Aqueduct.
From there it could be delivered to its customers.
Tetra Technologies Inc., a mining company based in The Woodlands, Texas, has filed a lawsuit in San Bernardino County Superior Court, alleging that the county should not have ceded lead agency status to the Santa Margarita Water District and also made an error in determining that the project's memorandum of understanding was not subject to environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.
Tetra has also taken legal action against the Santa Margarita Water District, the second largest retail water agency in Orange County.
In certifying the Final Environmental Impact Report, the Santa Margarita water board also approved a water purchase and sale agreement, which outlined the operational structure and financial terms for the district's participation in the Cadiz Project.
Also approved was the Groundwater Monitoring, Management and Mitigation Plan, which creates a framework for independent monitoring of the project's operations and protection of the desert's natural resources.
This will "establish a robust monitoring program in partnership with San Bernardino County to provide independent oversight of the operations of the Cadiz Project and protection of the Cadiz Project and protection for the desert's natural resources, if the project becomes operational," the Santa Margarita Water District said in a prepared statement.
The Cadiz Project would provide a new Southern California water supply by actively managing a groundwater basin that is part of a 1,300-square-mile watershed in east San Bernardino County.
Water that would otherwise evaporate would be collected and conserved for beneficial use, the water district statement said.
In other related action Tuesday night, the board also required the creation of a community advisory group to give input to the district as it carries out the monitoring of and mitigation for the project.
The Cadiz Project will need further approvals and permits to become operational.
Contact Jim via email or by phone at 909-386-3855.