Oasis or mirage? Company wants to tap Mojave water

November 6, 2011 - 11:05 AM

CADIZ, Calif. (AP) — Proponents of a controversial water plan want to tap into an aquifer the size of Rhode Island under the 35,000-acre Cadiz ranch in the heart of the California desert.

Supporters, which include five water agencies that feed thirsty Southern California communities, say they can supply 400,000 people with drinking water in only a few years.

If the plan sounds familiar, it is. A decade ago, Los Angeles' Metropolitan Water District rejected it when it faced widespread environmental opposition. A scaled back version has resurfaced with a greener pitch and what the company claims is better science to win over skeptics.

But conservationists, including the Sierra Club, say that mining the aquifer it could harm the threatened desert tortoise, bighorn sheep, as well as the nearby Mojave National Preserve.