A final vote by the Metropolitan Water District board on the controversial Cadiz water storage project may not take place until mid-January, district officials said Tuesday--a delay that could heighten financial pressures on its corporate sponsor, Cadiz Inc.
The MWD board's subcommittee on rules and ethics scheduled a series of hearings and project reviews to take place through November in preparation for a final board vote on the $150-million venture. At least one board member observed that holiday schedules, among other factors, could delay that vote until after December.
The timing of the MWD vote is crucial to Cadiz, a publicly traded company led by Keith Brackpool, an advisor to Gov. Gray Davis on state water issues. Cadiz stands to see as much as $1 billion in revenue over 50 years from the project, which includes plans to store up to 1.5 million acre-feet of surplus Colorado River water in a Mojave Desert aquifer underlying company-owned land.
But Cadiz, which has never turned an annual profit and currently records almost all its revenue from agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley, faces the expiration or maturation of about $64 million in debt by Jan. 30. In the past, these credit lines have been extended by lenders but generally at higher rates.