Fortunately, my friend left for another field.

For a while, I went to school with a woman who had just left working for Cadiz.  She is shockingly funny, and told me stories about how great it was to work for Cadiz.  It was pretty fun, I hear, to zoom up to the desert on a Friday night and stay at Sun World and drink at rural bars and eat amazing fruit.  That does indeed sound great. When we realized we were both in the water field, she told me about the Cadiz project; how they were going to sell their groundwater to LA.  I winced at that and she reassured me.  It was no problem, she said; the aquifer wasn’t connected to anything.  At that moment, I knew the project was bullshit, because “not connected to anything” isn’t a possible thing.  It was the early 2000’s and she told me that the Cadiz project was definitely going to happen, because Keith Brackpool was very good at Grey Davis’ preferred type of fellatio(her explanation, my classy paraphrase).

Now friends of this blog, if you study a map, you will see that neither the Mojave Desert nor Los Angeles are in the Central Valley.  Since you are all long-time readers, you know that my small and limited attention goes only towards water issues in the Central Valley.  So even though the Cadiz project has been self-evident bullshit since the very first I heard of it, and even though I have found its opponents to be brilliant and its supporters to be paid hacks, I don’t believe I’ve ever written about it here.

I’m still don’t have much to say about Cadiz, but I do want to answer a related question my friend asked me.  When I said there’s no way that water in a desert aquifer is unconnected to the surface desert ecology, she asked, but what if it were?  If it were unconnected, why not send that water to Los Angeles?  For the sake of that question, I will set aside the potential harm of the pipeline itself and the cost and pretend that this project is both spherical and frictionless. I’ll also answer that question as someone who is partial to Los Angeles.

My answer is no, even were it costless, Cadiz shouldn’t be built.  It shouldn’t be built because Los Angelenos can live within their existing supply.  Decoupling was evident even in the early 2000’s; hell, it had been obvious since the ’80’s, when the Mono Lake Committee proved that L.A. could replace Mono Lake water with conserved water.  I do understand that many more people will live in L.A., but I also know that we have not begun to approach a gppd so low that Angelenos (or, more broadly any Californians that have reliable water service) drop out of a first world quality of life.  Further, the region has the money to pursue the next-most-expensive chunks of internal water.  I reject the assertion that growth for southern California requires Cadiz’s water, and for that matter, I don’t want Californians tied to the traditional economic concept of growth.

I have come to a conclusion, here in 2018, as I look at the sleazy fucks who have resuscitated Cadiz.  As #MeToo develops, I am realizing that it is all the same extraction mindset.  Either people believe that the other has inherent worth and should be met in mutually beneficial agreement, or people believe that the other is not as important as themselves and is a target for extraction.  Desert water; living rivers; people’s labor; environmental absorption capacity; Tribal land; sex, time, attention from a weaker party.  To a taker, they’re all just stocks, insufficiently guarded.  Witnessing extraction in one realm should alert the viewer that they are viewing someone with an extractive mindset; it is likely that person is dangerous in multiple realms.  Which is a long way of saying what the last nearly twenty years have made clear: Cadiz is a terrible project supported by terrible people.



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18 responses to “Fortunately, my friend left for another field.

  1. Terry B.

    Glad to see your take on this; it was my relatively uninformed, knee-jerk reaction on seeing the headline this morning.

  2. Noel Park

    As to your concluding sentence, AMEN!

    And it would be an existential disaster for desert wildlife.

    And it is supported by Antonio Villaraigosa.

    • Anonymous

      Or would it be more accurate to say that Antonio Villaraigosa is supported by Cadiz?

  3. Anonymous

    Funniest water blog in a long time!

  4. Larry

    Well said. As the Cheyenne say ‘there are peace chiefs and there are sacrificers’ and you have identified the latter.

  5. John Ragozzino

    Have you noticed that ALL the reservoirs are full, AGAIN?

  6. Wow! Concur completely. Destroy another part of the State + environment so that Angelenos can waste more water. Hell No!

  7. Carolee Krieger

    The problem you identify with Cadiz in the Mojave is the same problem with Stewart Resnick and the Central Valley…greed, pure and simple. And the fix is enforcement of the Public Trust Doctrine just as it was with Mono Lake. We know that the state has promised at least 5 times more consumptive water than exists…now it is time to force an adjudication of the surface waters of the Delta watershed with a public trust analysis of all of the non market public trust assets…the environment deserves a seat at the table.

  8. I am happy for Emily Green that she has found such an articulate ally in opposition to Cadiz.

    • Thank you! I’m happy to see a new generation of protestors taking over. As for the friend who worked for them, I am guessing that she stayed at Sun World before Cadiz bankrupted it.

  9. diane livia

    Once again you are right on the money. and i mean that literally as well as figuratively.

  10. Jan Kimbrough

    Thank you for your well-written and funny insights!

  11. Exactly. Thanks for your venture out of the Central Valley.

    Extractive industries have been the bane of the human and environmental universes for millennia. As a species, we’ve taken gold, silver, coal, gems, timber, water, soil, fish, animals, and, yeah, humans, as if there are no consequences. And we’ve built an economic system that glorifies growth and the resource extraction to support it.

  12. Jon Hoge

    I think it should be pointed out that just because the money you extract from taxpayers is decoupled from producing anything tangible or useful, doesn’t mean that you don’t pay other people to extract things for you to sustain your lifestyle (there are probably 20 extracted metals in the computer alone you are using for this diatribe, and a lot of water was used to process those metals) Let’s also address the progressive fairy tale that capitalists are the only people who abuse human beings. Collectivist government workers have been responsible for more mass murder and enslavement in the last hundred years probably than anyone ever.

    The sad part about all of this sanctimony is that if it weren’t so glaringly obvious that the loudest mouths in the anti-water development/agriculture group care more about and take more personal pleasure in destroying certain farmers and farming communities than they do about protecting the “Delta” or “environment”, there would probably be substantial and fast moving agreement on water conservation and probably even some at land retirement. Maybe even some moderate environmental good could be done with that water to the 5% of natural Delta habitat that remains undestroyed by Delta residents. But when one side sees a NIMBY who pretends they live an impact free life with their mouth full of food in a house made of wood or steel and taxpayer funded economic security, demand that everyone else change their lifestyle or move (including people in other places who rely on the food produced here), they probably just think we’re not going to give an inch. We’ll just do what we can while we can, because these people just want to harm rather than restore anyway. So things really won’t get better (whatever that means), nothing will probably be built (congrats) but at this rate it will sadly take a long time before anything is “restored”.

  13. Great essay and comments. Neither should we waste water on fracking:

  14. Noel Park

    Well, Antonio got his comeuppance anyway. So that should be a bit of a setback for Cadiz.