Public News Service – CA
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Conservation advocates say it’s now or never to protect the aquifer underneath the Mojave Trails National Monument in the southern California desert.
The state legislative session ends Friday, so supporters are urging state lawmakers to pass Senate Bill 120.
It would require the controversial Cadiz Water Project to undergo state review, even as the Trump administration has moved to fast track it.
David Lamfrom, California desert and wildlife program director for the National Parks Conservation Association, says the plan to transfer desert water to seven southern California cities is flawed.
“New science indicates that this project would drain 16 billion gallons of water per year from an ancient aquifer, which feeds desert springs – which are critical for native culture, for wildlife in the region and for our national parks and our national monuments.”
The Trump administration has decided a federal review is unnecessary for the Cadiz project, and the developer maintains it would not harm the aquifer and would create jobs.
The State Assembly passed SB 120 on Wednesday. It now needs a vote in the full Senate.
Conservation groups worry that animals, including the endangered bighorn sheep and the desert tortoise, would perish if the natural springs they depend on dry up.
Lamfrom says most Californians oppose efforts to bypass environmental safeguards.
“People understand that in a place like the California desert that it is vital to protect our water sources because water is so rare and precious in this place,” he stresses.
A number of leaders in the Golden State have announced support for SB 120, including Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and multiple Native American tribes.