July 21, 2012

SMWD Releases Proposed Water Purchase and Sales Agreement For Proposed Cadiz Project

Basic financial terms for a supplemental new water supply to increase reliability are outlined

The proposed Water Purchase and Sale Agreement (Purchase Agreement) outlining the basic financial terms for the Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) to secure a reliable new supply of water from the proposed Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project (Cadiz Project) is available by clicking here  and will be considered by the SMWD Board of Directors during its public hearing on the proposed project on July 25.  

At that hearing, the SMWD Board will receive public comments on the previously-released Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), the proposed Groundwater Monitoring, Management and Mitigation Plan and the proposed Purchase Agreement for the proposed Cadiz Project.   SMWD has arranged for the public to provide comments in two locations to make it easier for residents of Orange and San Bernardino counties to participate. The Board will then decide whether or not to certify the FEIR pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act. 

If the SMWD Board does certify the FEIR, the Board would then be asked to consider the proposed Purchase Agreement and the proposed Groundwater Monitoring, Management and Mitigation Plan, which would establish a robust monitoring program in partnership with San Bernardino County to provide independent oversight of the operations of the proposed Cadiz Project and protection for the desert’s natural resources.

The proposed Purchase Agreement released today outlines the price ranges for SMWD to purchase 5,000 acre-feet of water annually from the proposed Cadiz Project, which would represent 20% of the District’s overall water sales, helping to diversify supply and increase reliability.  The price of the water is estimated to be between $827 and $1,127 per acre-foot, which would be comparable to the projected future price of the District’s current imported water supply, provided by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.   

In addition to its posting on the District’s website, the proposed Purchase Agreement is available for public review at the District’s offices at 26111 Antonio Parkway, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688.

The public hearing on the FEIR will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25. The locations 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.

An independent team of scientific, environmental and engineering experts were engaged to conduct a comprehensive environmental review to obtain public input and determine the feasibility of the proposed Cadiz Project.

After soliciting public input and carefully evaluating the proposed project, SMWD issued in December 2011 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 recently released FEIR.

If the SMWD Board certifies the FEIR, it allows the District to proceed with the project and work with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to develop an agreement for delivery of the water. 

More information on the proposed Cadiz Project is available on the District's website by clicking here.

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