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BLM Reaffirms Cadiz Water Project Can Construct in Railroad Right-of-Way
The United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued a letter to Cadiz Inc. reaffirming that the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project’s proposed use of the existing ARZC right-of-way for its conveyance pipeline and related railroad improvements will further a railroad purpose and that the Project is within the scope of the original right-of-way grant. This is consistent with their previous conclusion from October 2017.
The Cadiz Water Project has reserved water and infrastructure for the benefit of the railroad’s operations as part of its proposal. Thousands of miles of railroad rights-of-way across the country are shared with longitudinal infrastructure such as natural gas, fuel and water pipelines, as well as fiber optic, telecommunications and electrical transmission lines.
BLM’s California office stated in its evaluation: “The BLM affirms that the proposed Cadiz water conveyance pipeline project furthers a railroad purpose and is within ARZC’s rights to authorize under the 1875 Act. No further approval is required by the BLM for components of the project that are within the railroad right-of-way easement.”
“We are appreciative that BLM undertook the effort to clearly and unequivocally respond to the Court’s direction and present in careful detail the basis for its decision as directed by the Court on the way to reaffirming its 2017 decision,” said Scott Slater, Cadiz Inc. CEO & President.
The Cadiz Water Project has been evaluated under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) and independently reviewed and approved by the County of San Bernardino under local ordinances in 2012. Both actions were judicially validated in California’s Courts in 2016. Subsequently, an Addendum to the Project’s CEQA Environmental Impact Report was adopted by the Santa Margarita Water District in June 2019 which addressed new studies of springs released in 2018 as well as water treatment plans.
Before the Project can convey water to water users via the Colorado River Aqueduct, it must file an application with the State Lands Commission per a new law effective Jan 1, 2020 in Water Code §1815. Cadiz said in a statement it anticipates filing with the State Lands Commission as required by Water Code §1815 later this year. However, the Project now has the necessary authorizations from the federal government to construct its pipeline in the railroad’s right-of-way from Cadiz to the Aqueduct in eastern San Bernardino County.
The Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project is a public–private partnership between Cadiz Inc. — the largest private farming enterprise in San Bernardino County — and public water providers in Southern California working to provide a reliable water supply as part of the solution to the region’s persistent water supply challenges without harm to the environment. The project aims to conserve a new 50-year water supply for approximately 400,000 people every year by capturing water that is presently lost to evaporation at the base of a vast Mojave Desert watershed.
A copy of the complete BLM 2020 analysis is available at https://www.cadizinc.com/downloads/2020_Cadiz_letter_and_analysis.pdf.