My turn: Southern California needs this water project

By Winston Hickox and Julian CaneteSpecial to CALmatters/ source link but I wouldn’t use it:

The California Environmental Quality Act requires a stringent evaluation of the implications of major projects and requires that impacts be avoided.

It’s a long, complicated process. When a project completes the arduous review, and the inevitable litigation challenging that review, Californians can have confidence that the project is safe for the environment.

Where project approval also must satisfy local agency review, people can have even more confidence that a project has been thoroughly vetted.

Such is the case with the Cadiz Water Project, a proposal to supplement water supply for Southern California that has been thoroughly vetted and reviewed in accordance with California Environmental Quality Act.

That’s why we found Mary Martin’s recent op-ed disappointing. She urges legislative intervention without acknowledging that critical history. And now a new bill seeks to create a new certification process for water conveyed in California’s water transportation systems, something that is unprecedented.

The legislation targets one specific project, the Cadiz Water Project. It would set a dangerous precedent and pose a threat to any infrastructure project in the state.

The Cadiz Water Project began its development process in 2008. It’s located on privately owned agricultural property in San Bernardino County and offers a new water supply for up to 400,000 people a year by reducing a recurrent loss of 10 billion gallons of water per year to evaporation.

To avoid impacts to any public land, a pipeline will be co-located along an active, existing railroad corridor to deliver water to the Colorado River Aqueduct. The project is expected to create and support thousands of jobs for labor unions, veterans and local families in the Inland Empire.

The Cadiz Water Project was thoroughly reviewed and deemed environmentally safe by California public agencies and courts. San Bernardino County reviewed the project and imposed a groundwater management plan that’s a backstop to ensure against any of the risks expressed by opponents.

The Cadiz Water Project has earned the bipartisan support of elected officials, labor and business leaders. A recent poll of San Bernardino County voters showed that 74 percent support Cadiz as an example of a locally-controlled water project that will help meet the region’s water needs.

Yes, opposition remains, as it often does to development projects in California. But the opposition has chosen to ignore the California Environmental Quality Act approvals, county review and 12 court opinions validating the project.

Legislative intervention in the final week of the session would set a dangerous precedent for other needed projects, including renewable energy, affordable housing, and commercial and hospital construction projects, creating uncertainty in California’s respected and rigorous environmental approval processes.

Moving the goalposts for special interests, who have had their voices heard and concerns addressed, is not good public policy, nor will it help the environment. It’s a short-sighted political strategy that we urge the Legislature to reject.

Winston Hickox is a Cadiz Inc. board member, and former head of the California Environmental Protection Agency, Julian Canete is president of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce of which Cadiz Inc is a member,

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