Several environmental groups have filed a petition for writ of mandate against San Bernardino County, California, challenging a plan to pump billions of gallons of groundwater over the next 50 years from the Mojave Desert to sell to southern California water agencies. Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. County of San Bernardino, No. N/A (Cal. Super. Ct. 8/31/12). The project would build a 43-mile pipeline along a railroad easement to deliver captured groundwater to the Colorado River Aqueduct and then to state water agencies.

The petition asks the court to order the water district to vacate the final environmental impact report for the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery, and Storage Project and to block efforts to move the project forward until it meets all requirements set forth in the California Environmental Quality Act and other laws and ordinances. The petition also challenges the water district’s certification of an environmental review on the basis of findings that the project would have no significant impact on critical desert resources. Petitioners call the project, which is estimated to generate between $1 billion and $2 billion in revenue over 50 years, an “ill-conceived” plan that “threatens to dry up lifesustaining desert springs thereby hurting vegetation and key habitat for iconic desert species.”