Our City Council has repeatedly stated that it must have its own water source because water from the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) is subject to conditions in the Sacramento delta, or drought in Colorado, or natural disasters; all of which the council claims “could” curtail the City’s water supply.
But now it appears we may have a new water source with great reliability. This source is the Cadiz Water Project in the California desert.
In October 2012, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved Cadiz’s plan to pump 50,000 acre-feet of water per year out of this vast water source in the desert near Amboy.
The new water source will supply over 100,000 Southern California households who have contracted to purchase Cadiz water at rates equal to or less than current MWD rates.
The Cadiz Company plans to drill wells to extract some of the water before it migrates to a dry lake bed where it evaporates into the atmosphere. The Cadiz water will be pumped 44 miles through a pipeline to the Colorado River Aqueduct (CRA) where it will be blended with water from the Colorado River. It will then be delivered to MWD reservoirs in San Bernardino County. This new water source will enhance MWD’s current resources but will be less susceptible to political and drought restrictions.
The Santa Margarita Water District as the lead agency, recently approved the environmental plan (EIR) and the Groundwater Monitoring Plan for the Cadiz Water Project. Santa Margarita has also signed a contract for up to 5,000 acre-feet of water per year at rates less than those currently charged by MWD.
Unless something changes, our City is responsible for a lease payment to the San Juan Basin Authority to pay off bonds used to construct the Ground Water Recovery Plant (GWRP). The City obligated its residents to pay for the GWRP with steeply increased rates, through 2035 when the $33. 5 million bond is paid off.
Our City could choose to sign up with Cadiz if the cost of water proves to be less than MWD water, as Santa Margarita has done. This would bring the cost of water down for San Juan residents. However, that would take some courage and initiative from the City Council. We’ll keep you posted on what, if any, action the council will take.