The Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) and L.A.-based Cadiz Inc. have collaborated to assemble a 13-member panel of experts on ecology, sustainability and environmental science to act as a Groundwater Stewardship Committee. The team will guide the design of an operating plan and mitigation and monitoring program for the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project.
The program proposes to provide the SMWD and other Southern California communities with a reliable new source of water through the conservation, capture and consolidation of thousands of acre-feet of native groundwater that heretofore have been lost to evaporation in an aquifer system located beneath the Cadiz property in the Mojave Desert. (An acre-foot can serve the needs of two California families for more than a year.)
The SMWD has been acting as the lead agency of the California Environmental Quality Act review for the project. The operating plan and monitoring program, developed by the Groundwater Stewardship Committee, will ensure that the project is carried out in a manner that is both sustainable and not harmful to the desert and watershed environment.
The district has named Charles Groat, who holds a Ph.D. in geological sciences and served as the former head of the U.S. Geological Survey, as its representative on the board. Dr. Jack Sharp will act as the chairman of the committee; he is the Dave P. Carlton Centennial Professor of Geology at the University of Texas.
“I am pleased to lead the Groundwater Stewardship Committee,” said Sharp. “For over 18 months I have been engaged in the comprehensive study of the aquifer system at the project area, and I am confident that the GSC will help ensure the safe, sustainable operation of the project.”
Other members of the committee include Rod Banyard, former executive director of the West Australia Waters and River Commission; Andrew Stone, executive director of the American Ground Water Trust; Gregory Thomas, founder and president of The Natural Heritage Institute; and a number of other industry professionals and members of academia.
“The Cadiz Valley Water Project represents a unique opportunity to conserve groundwater presently lost to evaporation and provide for the future storage of imported water,” said John Schatz, general manager of SMWD. “We are honored that this best-in-class panel of expert advisers have agreed to help us ensure that the project is designed, independently peer-reviewed and managed according to the best groundwater management practices and without harm to the surrounding environment.”
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