I’ve been out of the loop for much of the last week, and at this point it’s likely that everyone who follows western water issues has already seen Emily Green’s post on the Cadiz groundwater project. If you haven’t, I recommend it. Cadiz is the proposal to do something that is a bit murky with groundwater from the Mojave Desert – either aquifer storage of surplus Colorado River water, or groundwater mining, or some possibility of bits of both, to meet Southern California supply needs.
It is worth remembering here that California is already the 800 pound gorilla on the Colorado River, having won rights to 4.4 million acre feet per year of the river’s water. In the recent past, when there was extra, it ended up doing some real ecosystem good down in the river’s nearly non-existent delta. The Cadiz story is too murky at this point to make clear whether skimming some of that surplus (which happens quite rarely at this point given the current status of lakes Mead and Powell) is the plan, or whether we’re just gonna see another aquifer mined.
Emily’s gone back through the federal NEPA analysis done on an earlier version of the project and his raising some substantive questions.