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🤖 "The Cadiz Water Project"

The Water Values Podcast

Photo by Sujitabh Chaudhary / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Dave McGimpsey
Guest: Scott Slater | President and CEO | Cadiz, Inc.
Category: 🤖 Technology

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[4:53] “In […] December of 2008, I decided to take on the responsibility of revisioning a project that had been discussed and considered between 1998 and 2002, called the Cadiz Project. And the Cadiz Project is owned and operated by a public company, which is called Cadiz, traded on the NASDAQ. And they had a really prolific and unique in their combination set of assets, which was the land holding of about 35,000 contiguous acres and overlying between 20 and 40 million acre feet of water, which had largely been untapped.”

[23:10] “The legacy of a water project, and its ability to move forward isn't won or lost at the approval stage. […] People have to have confidence that what you're doing is open, transparent, and and the right thing, otherwise, you […] suffer the experience the city of Los Angeles has undergone for the last seven years as they […] tried to take water out of the Owens Valley. […] But there's a tension that exists in California and to some degree in the West, and the tension really emanates from a concern about more water being added to the grid. And then the consequence of that water and what's done with it. And so I think as most people are aware, there's a pretty strong opposition to water projects generally. “

[27:30] “The most original ideas that we had at this project are taking other people's great ideas that worked in other places and combining them here. […] And so the point of our project is, we want to put down a series of wells, operating sensibly like a picket fence. And so as the water comes downhill, marching towards […] dry lakes, just using natural heat to push it in that direction, the wells go in and take what nature is sending downhill. In other words, what goes in comes out. So if we're able to calibrate the wells and locate them in the right locations, they can capture what nature feeds through the migration, and can then be put into a pipeline that we propose to construct in an active railway right of way to minimize impact and then send it about 43 miles to empty space and the Colorado River aqueduct. And then from there, utilizing that existing facility, make it available to 20 million plus people in Southern California.”

[39:40] “[I]f you think about the world that we live in today, how difficult it is to permit a 220 mile pipeline. It's a pretty Herculean effort. From the permitting side, the expense side, there's no way that it's done for less than two 100 million, some people think 400 million. So if you're able to grab onto an asset and repurpose [gas pipelines into water pipelines] for a fraction of that, it's good for the public. […] People aren't so excited about natural gas pipelines running through their neighborhood, [but] no one's ever been killed from a from a […] pipeline blowout.”

[41:09] “I think [we do] […] bad job on how we speak about conservation and juxtapose that against rationing. They're really different things. And it has to do with impacts on our working class families and our disadvantaged communities. […] The impact on everybody is probably misunderstood and so I want to go to what I call the conservation conundrum, and explain why water augmentation is important in that context and why Cadiz is part of that solution.”

[42:03] “So we start with the basic proposition that most if not all water utilities are in the business of building service improvements. They have a pretty significant infrastructure that's required to meet a delivery. And there are fixed costs that are associated with doing that. […] When we talk about irregularity or variability in the supply, which is not planned […] and communities make a decision not to make investments in water augmentation, what happens is when there's a drought, and ever more frequently we see this happening in the West, […] people are told that there's not adequate supply. They're told to ration. And that's phenomena is what I call the conservation conundrum, because you go to your [customers], many of whom are working class families in disadvantaged communities, and you tell them, please use less water. And they do. They are compliant. They do the right thing and they conserve by 20% or 30% or whatever the number is. And as that happens, they find their water rates are doubling or tripling or spiking. Because, very simply, if you're selling less water, you have less revenue to use to offset your fixed costs, and the entity has no choice but to increase those rates.”

[43:58] “And in reality, it doesn't have to be that way. We can be efficient, we can be conservation minded, we can respect the value of water, and yet plan for having a reliable supply that will cover us in drought. And by spending the money on a proportionate basis to bring in that new supply, we would actually avoid the rate spike and deliver water to people. […] If you spend the bulk on a monthly basis in your water rate to go get the additional water to protect you in the drought, you avoid the $4 increase in those periods of shortage, not to mention the lost opportunity that's associated with not having a reliable supply.”

[44:52] “The barrier to building housing, which many disadvantaged and working class families really want, […] is having a reliable water supply. So, the is really a double whammy to these communities. You're not getting your fair share of housing, affordable housing, an opportunity for that, and you are paying dramatically for your good behavior as by doing the right thing and using less when you're told to use less. […] So, a project like Cadiz, which can provide long term reliable supply as a cover for drought, is an option to these communities to make investments in water augmentation for those communities who wanted to avoid those problems, to enable economic development in their community and enable them to provide a fair share of housing. So we're not the only water augmentation project that's out there but we're certainly one of the most affordable if not the most affordable, and we have a great advantage of being at the headwaters really of the Colorado River aqueduct so we can be dropped into the aqueduct and distributed to communities that want the water within the larger six counties of Southern California.”

[47:08] “The world of water, as we know it is really complex […]. I think that it is probably well understood that the priority in the water space has always been safety first and safety is […] a critical requirement. At the same time, that adherence to safety first, always has to some degree, not encouraged the type of innovation that we also need to nurture. It doesn't have to be one at the expense of the other. We need to be looking for new ways better, ways to safely provide water to all. […] We got to figure out a better way to be more creative, think outside the box […] and find solutions where we haven't been able to do it. And I think doing things like converting a natural gas pipeline to a water conveyance facility is representative of something like that.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 52 min | 🗓️ 04/20/2021
✅ Time saved: 50 min

Additional Links:
Cadiz Water Project
LA Times Article on the Cadiz Water Project