California: Stop a Desert Water Grab Desert bighorn sheep Bookmark and Share For more than 15 years the Cadiz Corporation has courted a number of water agencies with a harebrained plan to pump water out of the ancient underground Cadiz aquifer for sale to Southern California. So far no one has jumped at this ill-conceived proposal (Metropolitan Water District of Southern California actually considered, then rejected, the project in 2002). Now Orange County’s Santa Margarita Water District has spearheaded renewed plans to drain the ancient aquifer — and the public hearing to approve the project is this Wednesday, July 25. Despite the district’s distance from San Bernardino County and a complete lack of accountability to local residents, Santa Margarita appointed itself lead agency. It embarked on a flawed environmental review process, riddled with dubious hydrological modeling, and a worthless water-monitoring and management plan that would wait 10 years to report on the destruction of springs and seeps crucial to wildlife. The Cadiz Valley is home to a multitude of plants and animals, including threatened desert tortoises; the adjacent mountains are strongholds for several herds of desert bighorn sheep that rely on the threatened springs and seeps for survival. Unique, deep-rooted plant thickets and mesquite trees also rely on the deep groundwater aquifer. Without it they could dry up and blow away — along with the refuge they give birds and other wildlife from the blistering Mojave sun.