They say you can’t get water from a stone, but one man says he can solve California’s water crisis with water from the desert.
Scott Slater is the CEO of Cadiz, a California company that owns 45,000 acres in the Mojave, one of the driest places on earth. He says that a few hundred feet beneath the ground surface lies an enormous watershed the size of Rhode Island, about 1300 square miles.
He is proposing taking hundreds of trillions of gallons of desert ground water a year and piping it over a hundred miles to the populated suburbs around Los Angeles.
The key to the project is an old railroad line, the Arizona And California Railroad, which runs right through Cadiz property.
The problem has been it's regulated by the federal government. Slater wants to build his pipe near the line to connect to the Southern California aqueduct system. The Obama administration denied him the right of way access.
But then, the Trump administration reversed that decision. Trump even appointed David Bernhardt, Slater's former partner to be number two at the Department of the Interior, which would oversee the project.
But local environmentalists aren't happy.
David Lamfrom from the California Desert and Wildlife Director for National Parks Conservation Association told Fox News’ Douglas Kennedy that they’re very disappointed by the Trump administration’s decision, and that the massive infrastructure project will actually raise water rates and damage the delicate desert ecosystem.
“We're looking at harm to our economies, we're looking at harm to our wildlife and we're looking at harm to our communities that have built businesses around people visiting these places,” Lamfrom explained.
Slater defended against his critics, arguing, “that's completely untrue. We've been through 12 court opinions. Four judges. All of them concluding that this project is environmentally benign and will cause no harm to the environment.”
Just this week, a bill that could have stopped the company’s plans to pump water out of the Mojave, died in the California Senate.
Once up and running, Slater says the water can and will be used to fight the devastating wildfires plaguing California.