Cadiz Inc Paying the Three Valleys Water District to Conduct "Independent" Research on Impacts of the Cadiz Water Project

  • Posted on 29 June 2019
  • By John Monsen
(L to R) Mojave Trails National Monument, desert bighorn sheep, Bonanza Springs.

Through an intermediary Cadiz Inc is funding a Pomona Valley Water District up to $1,078,000 to research the impacts of the Cadiz water mining project on the Mojave Desert.1 The initial study overseen by the Three Valleys Municipal Water District costing $100,000 was released in March with a follow-up $200,000 “Phase I” study announced in June.  Such research is extremely unusual for a water district to conduct, especially with the funding coming from the corporation whose project is under review.2 The district serves the cities of Claremont, Pomona, La Verne, Glendora and Covina. Three Valleys is one of a handful of water agencies that have signed a preliminary agreement with Cadiz to purchase water. 

Cadiz hopes to extract 16 billion gallons of water a year from underneath to Mojave Trails National Monument near Joshua Tree National Park, killing off springs on which desert life depends. Cadiz faces mounting evidence of the harm the project would do from recent scientific studies, the United States Geological Survey, and the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Late last year Three Valleys announced that it was going to spend $100,000 to hire consultants to study the Cadiz project desert monitoring plan as a response to the project’s critics, “Toward the end of obtaining greater public confidence in the Project.”3 Cadiz was very pleased with the results, bragging about them on its company website, claiming the “new independent review of Cadiz water project commissioned by local agencies” shows the project “promises robust protection of Mojave Desert Resources.” Cadiz didn’t mention that it had paid for the study or that the study’s purpose was to build public confidence in the project. 

Skeptics of the water district’s research like the National Park Conservation Association’s Neal Desai point out that not only is Cadiz funding funneled through an intermediary, the Fenner Valley Water Authority,4 but the self-described “independent” review’s lead consultant, Aguilogic CEO Tony Brown, is a Cadiz advocate. “Criticisms of the Project’s hydrology are scientifically unsupportable,” said Brown in a Cadiz press release in 2013. “The Cadiz Project can be intelligently managed to provide a new beneficial use without any harm.”5  He has written an op-ed advocating for the project to be built and his legislative opinions (which supported those of Cadiz) were posted on the company website. He participated as a reviewer in a 2018 Cadiz study of desert springs.6  

Supportive third-party findings could be especially valuable to Cadiz in 2020 when its project will likely face a review by the California State Lands Commission. Legislation to create this review (SB 307) is strongly supported by the Sierra Club and must pass the legislature by September. Cadiz will need the Commission to certify that its project does not adversely affect the natural or cultural resources of the desert or it can’t proceed. 

In June, Three Valleys announced a second study costing $200,000 on the environmental impacts of the Cadiz project on the desert springs with more studies potentially to come later in the year.7 As noted, the study consultant, the CEO of Aquilogic, is already on record saying the project will provide “a beneficial use without any harm” and he has already been part of a Cadiz study of the springs that found no negative impacts.8 Professor Char Miller characterized the Cadiz-Three Valleys effort as “yet another corporate-sponsored PR campaign masquerading as objective science.”9 Char is a Professor of Environmental Analysis at Pomona College in Claremont.



We need activists, especially ones who live in Claremont, Pomona, La Verne, Rowland Heights, Covina and Glendora to attend Three Valley Board meetings and email their Three Valleys board members (email addresses listed in board member bios)

We need to hold Three Valleys accountable for their decisions and ask them to stop their Cadiz-funded research designed to gain greater public confidence for a project the Sierra Club opposes. Some useful questions to ask the Board:

  • Whose idea was it that Three Valleys conduct a million dollars in reviews of the Cadiz project?

  • How much was (and is) the Three Valleys Cadiz-funded work coordinated with Cadiz? By whom and when at Three Valleys and Cadiz?  

  • How were consultants selected and did Cadiz have any say in their selection?

  • Since the Cadiz is 1) funding a study of its own project 2) by a water district signed up for Cadiz water who wants to the project go forward 3) with the intent of increasing public confidence in the project 4) and whose consultant, Aquilogic, has repeatedly defended the project -- why should anyone believe the results?

  • As a ratepayer of the district, support the agency investing more money in water conservation, incentives for energy efficiency appliances, outreach, education, water reuse, and water recycling. There is no reason it should need water provided by Cadiz.

If you want to help out, contact the author and join the Angeles Chapter Water Committee.

Cadiz Inc Paying the Three Valleys Water District article Angeles Chapter Sierra Club diagram


[Diagram image source: NPCA]

John Monsen is a long-time Angeles Chapter public lands advocate who was a winner of the Chapter’s Extraordinary Achievement Award in 2017.  He is President of JFM Consulting, which defends our public wild places in our national forests, deserts monuments and National Parks as he supports equity in public lands access. He is a member of the Angeles Chapter and Sierra Club California Water Committees.


1$100,000 initial study review plus Phase I authorized in June ($198,000) and prospective, not yet authorized, Phase II ($600,000) and Phase III ($180,000). From Three Valleys Board Packet, June 19, 2019, Item E, Fiscal Impact, p 226.

2“Cadiz, Inc. deposited $100,000 with the [Fenner Valley Water] Authority and the Authority deposited the same amount with TVMWD [Three Valleys].” Fenner Valley Water Authority Memorandum, October 24, 2018, contained in December 4, 2018 Fenner Valley Board packet, p 20.

3“Toward the end of obtaining greater public confidence in the Project we respectfully request that you agree to reimburse us for the cost of this independent review.” Three Valleys Memorandum, contained in December 4, 2018 Fenner Valley Board packet, p 21.

4See endnote 2. 

5“Criticisms of the Project’s hydrology are scientifically unsupportable….,” said Anthony Brown, M.Sc. Engineering Hydrology. “[T]he Cadiz Project can be intelligently managed to provide a new beneficial use without any harm.” October 21, 2013 Cadiz Inc Press Release.  

6Tony Brown participated as a site visit expert on the on the 2018 Cadiz Bonanza Springs Study. See Page 1 of Cadiz “2018 Bonanza Spring Study Expert List.”.

7Same as footnote 1, p 225-26

8Cadiz Inc, Scientific Study Concludes Cadiz Water Project Will Not Harm Mojave Desert Spring, January 30, 2018 Cadiz press release.

9Char Miller, “Little watched district Little-watched water districts helping Trump administration drain California desert, Claremont Courier, May 4, 2018.


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