July 13, 2012

SMWD Releases Final Environmental Impact Report for Proposed Cadiz Project

Document Responds to Public Comments on Proposed New Water Supply  

The Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) announced today that it has released a Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the proposed Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project (Cadiz Project) and scheduled a public hearing on July 25 in two locations to make it easier for residents of Orange and San Bernardino counties to provide their input on the report and the project.

The FEIR reflects nearly two years of environmental data-gathering, analysis, public input and collaboration among cooperating agencies -- with SMWD serving as the lead agency responsible for preparing the FEIR in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

The report contains responses to public comments on the proposed new water supply and is available for public review by clicking here or by visiting the District’s offices at 26111 Antonio Parkway, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688.

“SMWD is committed to protecting environmental resources, while seeking to secure supplemental Southern California sources of water that can improve future reliability,” said SMWD Board President Bill Lawson. “The proposed Cadiz Project has undergone an extensive environmental review and the District has actively sought the public’s input throughout the process by holding public sessions in San Bernardino and Orange counties and extending the public comment period beyond CEQA requirements.  We look forward to providing the public another opportunity to provide its input during the upcoming public hearing.”

The public hearing on the FEIR will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25. Details are provided below:

Norman P. Murray Community & Senior Center
Sycamore Room
24932 Veterans Way
Mission Viejo, CA 92692
Norman Murray Center Map

Via Video Conference
Copper Mountain College
Bell Center Community Room
6162 Rotary Way
Joshua Tree, CA 92252
Copper Mountain College Map

For more than 45 years, SMWD has provided its customers a safe, affordable and reliable supply of water. However, the District currently relies almost entirely on imported water supplies that are threatened by recurring drought cycles, regulatory restrictions and potential natural disasters, like earthquakes.  Accordingly, SMWD is exploring additional innovative and diverse opportunities to protect reliability and help stabilize rates, including the proposed Cadiz Project.

The proposed Cadiz Project would provide a new Southern California water supply by actively managing a groundwater basin that is part of a 1,300-square-mile watershed in eastern San Bernardino County. Water that would otherwise evaporate would be collected and conserved for beneficial use. If approved and put into operation, the project would then convey the conserved water to SMWD and to other Southern California water providers.

The District has engaged an independent team of scientific, environmental and engineering experts which has conducted a comprehensive environmental review to obtain public input and determine the feasibility of the proposed Cadiz Project.

In December 2011, SMWD issued a nearly 3,000-page Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) that found the proposed project would avoid any significant unmitigatable impacts to desert resources—except for some short-term construction emissions. The District received public comments on the DEIR and provided responses to those comments in the FEIR that was released today.

During the July 25 public hearing, the SMWD Board of Directors will decide whether or not to certify the FEIR pursuant to CEQA.  In addition, the Board will be asked to consider a draft Purchase and Sales Agreement, which will further detail the financial terms for purchasing water from the proposed Cadiz Project. And, the Board will be asked to consider the Groundwater Monitoring, Management and Mitigation Plan, which authorizes San Bernardino County to provide separate oversight and monitoring of the proposed Cadiz Project.

If the Board certifies the FEIR and the project were to move forward, additional steps, including agreements and permits, are needed prior to the construction of the project. 

More information on the proposed Cadiz Project is available by clicking here.

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