If It Sounds Too Good To Be True…

cadizwater

A pilot well on Cadiz Inc. property in the Mojave Desert. Photo credit: Cadiz Inc.

The water shortage in California is complicated, to say the least. So, the solution, if there is one, is bound to be complicated. And expensive. We have no illusion that the cost of change in this case will be high, but this particular $2 billion price tag does not immediately sound like a good idea:

Scott Slater, CEO of Cadiz Inc., has a controversial plan. He wants to pump 814 billion gallons of water from the Mojave Desert to Los Angeles, San Diego and other drought-stricken communities in Southern California—making more than $2 billion in the process.

Slater’s company owns the water rights to 45,000 acres of land in the Mojave Desert, and he’s already secured contracts to sell the water for $960 per acre-foot (the amount of water it takes to cover an acre of land in a foot of water), according to The Guardian. At that price, the company stands to make $2.4 billion over the 50-year period of its water extraction deal with San Bernardino County.

But in the last 10 years, the company has suffered $185 million in losses.

“To develop the project, the company burns through $10 million to $20 million annually,” The New York Times explained, “paying for a never-ending battle in courthouses and conference rooms across California to win make-or-break government permits and to cover the salaries of its 10 full-time employees.” The company borrows extensively and regularly issues new shares to cover its costs.

The project has faced fierce opposition from environmental groups, local ranchers, Native American tribes, politicians—notably, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)—and most recently, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM)…

Read the whole story here.

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