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By Debbie Cook
Special to the Surf City Voice
Things are heating up in the fight to stop the misnamed Cadiz Valley Water Conservation Project—cultivated in secret backroom meetings held by corporate water brokers and public water officials—that we are told conserves water that would otherwise evaporate by sucking it from a desert aquifer under the delicate Mojave Desert and transporting it 200 miles to Orange County to water the lawns of future urban sprawl.
The growing allegations of Cadiz-related conflicts, incestuous political relationships, and self-dealing had reached a peak last month when Santa Margarita Water District’s chief champion, John Schatz, abruptly retired from his lucrative job there as General Manager/General Counsel.
Schatz even cancelled his last scheduled regular board meeting after learning that a group of desert residents planned to attend.
And just when the going got rough, Schatz jettisoned before the public could let loose on him at a final public hearing to be held TODAY, Wednesday, July 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Norman P Community Center, 24932 Veterans Way, Mission Viejo, CA.
But what a mess he left in his dust.
The Cadiz Water Project is the hare-brained idea of Cadiz, Inc. founder and political operative Keith Brackpool. And the political connections of Cadiz and its board contain ample material for a sequel to the 1974 Roman Polanski film, Chinatown.
First proposed in 2000 and rejected in 2002 as a joint effort with the Metropolitan Water District, it was resuscitated by the Santa Margarita Water District’s Board of Directors as a revised scheme. Last year SMWD arrogantly signed on as the “Lead Agency” for the Environmental Impact Report, despite the fact that it has no regulatory authority in San Bernardino County where the proposed project is located.
Both SMWD and San Bernardino County (the latter already approved the project) are now being sued by Tetra Technologies, a salt mining operation that depends on water from the aquifer.
Brackpool’s timing couldn’t be better. The print media has all but abandoned coverage of local government, campaign contributions have corrupted all levels of government, and the public is too busy making ends meet to see that its water rates are about to go sky high…