A Mojave Desert water project is expected to create up to 2,500 jobs in the Inland Empire over two years once construction begins as scheduled in 2016. The Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery, and Storage Project (Cadiz Water Project), a plan to deliver new water to customers in the Inland Empire and Southern California, is one of the Inland Empire’s largest proposed infrastructure projects on the books and would involve the construction of a 43-mile steel pipeline, a well field and other facilities.
Like other major infrastructure projects, the Cadiz Water Project will require thousands of local workers to build out these facilities, creating thousands of jobs. Project proponents have already guaranteed that local workers are hired first through project labor agreements with Laborer and Operating Engineer Trade Unions in the Inland Empire.
The first phase of the $200 Million project comes at a time when unemployment in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties is being blamed by California policy makers for keeping the state’s unemployment numbers higher than the national average. Indeed, a February report completed by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office links the lack of employment opportunities in the Inland Empire and Los Angeles County as a main reason California’s unemployment rate remains among the highest in U.S.
“The Inland Empire needs jobs desperately. Our members come to the Union Hall looking for work every day to feed their families and pay the bills,” stated Alex Artiaga, Business Manager for Laborer’s Local 783 in San Bernardino. “We not only support the Cadiz water project because it will help California meet its future water demands, we need it to employ our people and improve our economy.”
Cadiz Inc., the Project sponsor and a local agricultural developer, has also agreed to a ten percent hiring target for Military Veterans through their agreements with labor unions. San Bernardino County is home to the two largest military bases in the country, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twenty-nine Palms and the Army’s Fort Irwin National Training Center. Many military personnel have been discharged recently due to the sequestration in last year’s Federal Budget and could use more employment opportunities.
The Cadiz Water Project will also create employment through local contracts for materials and equipment. Cadiz has pledged to invest 80% of the Project’s capital requirements with local steel and pipe manufacturers including Northwest Pipe, Layne Christensen, NOV Ameron, California Steel Industries, and Roscoe Moss. These companies employ hundreds of local skilled workers.
“The Cadiz Water Project will provide thousands of families with quality drinking water over the long-term and do it in an environmentally safe manner,” stated Cadiz President Scott Slater. “We will also provide an $800 million dollar boost to the local economy and good jobs for Inland Empire residents. We look forward to breaking ground and being part of the Inland Empire’s water and economic recovery.”
The well field will be entirely constructed on private land owned by Cadiz about 30 miles east of the MCAGCC. Cadiz has farmed a variety of fruits and vegetables on this 35,000 acre property for over 20 years. The underground steel pipeline and related facilities would be constructed entirely within the active Arizona & California Railroad right-of-way between the Cadiz property and the Colorado River Aqueduct near Rice at Highway 62. The Project is currently working towards clearances for transportation of the new water supply, enough for 100,000 families, with the Bureau of Land Management and the Metropolitan Water District and plans to be in a position to initiate pipeline construction early next year.