03 Oct News: Superior Court Signs Final Judgments in Cadiz Project Environmental Cases
October 3, 2014 – Today Cadiz is pleased to announce the receipt of final signed judgments (“Judgments”) from Orange County Superior Court Judge Gail Andler formally denying all challenges to the environmental approvals of the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project (“Water Project”). The final Judgments affirm the previously announced decisions that the public agencies, Santa Margarita Water District (“SMWD”) and the County of San Bernardino (“County”), each acted properly in approving the Water Project. The final Judgments also awarded costs to SMWD, the County, Cadiz and Fenner Valley Mutual Water Company as the prevailing parties in the cases. An exhaustive record supports both the public agencies’ and now the trial court’s decisions that the Project can provide a new source of water for California without harm to the environment. Any appeal faces the challenge of overturning these decisions which are based on this extensive record. To review copies of the Judgments, click here.
The Water Project is a public-private partnership designed to save desert groundwater that would otherwise evaporate or become undrinkable at saline dry lakes and provide a new, reliable water supply for approximately 400,000 Californians every year. In accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act, the Project underwent a thorough and expansive environmental review and permitting process over 18 months from 2011 – 2012. After extensive public input and technical review, the Project’s Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) was certified on July 31, 2012 by SMWD, the Lead Agency of the CEQA process. On October 1, 2012, the County Board of Supervisors, a Responsible Agency under CEQA, approved the Project’s Groundwater Management, Monitoring, and Mitigation Plan (“GMMMP”), developed under the County’s Desert Groundwater Ordinance.
Lawsuits challenging these key approvals were filed in 2012 by various parties. Three cases were dismissed or settled in 2013 and six cases brought separately by the Center for Biological Diversity and Tetra Technologies (NYSE: TTI) proceeded to trial in December 2013 before Judge Andler. The cases alleged that the procedures followed and the quality of the analysis during the CEQA process was inadequate and sought a reversal of the Project approvals. In May 2014, Judge Andler issued a Minute Order denying all of the Petitioners’ claims and validating the thorough environmental review of the Project. In August, Judge Andler issued final Statements of Decision which set forth the basis for the findings of the Minute Order. The Judgments announced today serve as Judge Andler’s final actions in the cases. The cases are now subject to appeal within the next 60 days.