CANTIL – For over three hours on Saturday, January 19, 2013, approximately fifty individuals at the meeting of Concerned Citizens for Cantil listened to members of a panel who educated the public on aspects of local geology and expressed opposition to the proposed Fremont Valley Preservation Project, a large-scale photovoltaic solar facility and water bank.
“This valley cannot handle a project this size,” emphatically stated panel member, Trisan Deu Pree, a fourth-generation Cantil landowner who is helping to spearhead the grassroots, activist movement against the project’s advance.
“I’m not opposed to reasonable wind and solar projects,” she clarified, “but these are on steroids. Every facet of this project is ludicrous.”
The project would be located between California City and Randsburg and its solar field is projected to produce enough power to run an estimated 600,000 homes and produce 200,000 acre feet of water per year that could reportedly supply up to 400,000 homes.
Also proposed is a water banking facility that will utilize 4,806 acres of undeveloped land purchased from the Aciero Ranch and bring surface water from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Aqueduct System to the solar sites.
Several panel and audience members expressed the opinion that promoters of AquaHelios Resources LLC are utilizing semantics and subterfuge to accomplish their aims.
“They want to take all your natural resources to benefit themselves and then dump their garbage on you,” said Danny DeLozier, a presenter and local property manager. “They’re just using the term, [water] banking,” he continued, taking issue with the innocuous-sounding term and referencing the LADWP’s proposal to infuse its surface water into the area from Los Angeles.
Many residents are frustrated about what they fear will be the pollution and ruination of their pristine water supply, through “pumping in their sewer water and pulling out our ground water,” as expressed by Michael Powell, General Manager of Rand Communities Water District, which has wells in close proximity to Cantil.
“Aquifer injection has the potential to influence ground water,” Powell said. “It won’t take long before you’ll see an impact. Then it won’t be long before you’ll need a costly fix and treatment plan.”
Others also took issue with the proposed solar project, calling it a “disguise” for the main goal of the company’s achieving a water grab. “The desert has good water,” said DeLozier. “Los Angeles wants water, they’re after a new water supply, and this new source here would be a huge one.”
Powell asserted that, by coming in under the acceptable idea of renewable energy, “the solar project is just being used to mitigate the impact of the water project and to justify a benefit for the Cantil area.”
DeLozier pointed out unique geological features in the area that would make Rancho Seco highly susceptible to contamination, which would eventually affect every other area downstream. Contaminated water can also spread serious illnesses, he pointed out.
Panel members also expressed frustration with the lack of transparency and communication they have experienced with corporate officers of AquaHelios. “They should be here today holding this meeting,” said Dawn Martin, president of Rancho Seco Inc., a private water corporation.
Participants discussed numerous strategies for dealing with the threat to their water and quality of life. Powell urged that all audience members obtain copies of the Environmental Impact Report, which is anticipated to be available in June 2013, and to raise issues through written responses to the report during the 90-day window following its publication.
DeLozier added, “This is a local issue, but we need to turn this into a California issue, then into a Washington issue. We need to move up the chain and get some serious people involved in this.”
Saturday’s meeting was held at the Jawbone Station in Cantil.