Last Friday, the San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority and Westlands Water District filed a lawsuit with the Sacramento County Superior Court against the Delta Stewardship Council for adopting the Delta Plan and certifying the Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR).
The complaint states that the Delta Plan would impede, rather than further, achievement of the coequal goals, and that the Council relied on” unsupported assumptions, speculative and superficial analysis, and omission of meaningful information” in developing the Delta Plan and its PEIR.
The Council has failed to formulated the Delta Plan in a manner consistent with the mandates in the Delta Reform Act and failed to prepare and certify a legally adequate EIR for the Delta Plan, states the complaint:
” … For every resource area in the PEIR, the discussions of project impacts, mitigation measures, and conclusions fail to meet this standard and violate CEQA because they consist of mere speculation and unsupported assumptions. …
Petitioners and other public agencies, organizations, and members of the public identified numerous CEQA violations in the Council’s environmental review, including but not limited to: inadequate analysis of alternatives, because the PEIR did not adequately assess the feasibility of using local sources of water supply to compensate for a presumed reduction in supplies conveyed through the Delta; inadequate analysis of impacts, because the analysis assume reductions in water conveyed through the Delta; inadequate analysis of impacts, because the analysis assumes reductions in water conveyed through the Delta will be made up by some other source of water; and adoption of mitigation measures that are vague, unenforceable, and are not tied to particular impacts. … “
The complaint says that the fundamental flaw of the Delta Plan is that it goes well beyond the authorities granted to the Council through the Delta Reform Act and attempts to make the Council a supreme regulator:
” … Nowhere did the Delta Reform Act authorize the Council to become a supreme regulator – a “super agency” overseeing water management activity throughout California. Indeed, the legislative history is quite clear that this was not the intent of the Delta Reform Act …
Also, the words “reduce reliance” are conspicuously absent from the Legislature’s extensive and detailed description of what should be included in the Delta Plan. By fiat, the Council has inappropriately imported this broad declaration of state policy into the very core of its proposed Delta Plan as Water Resource Policy 1 (“WR P1”), and seeks to enforce it without authority to do so. … “
The complaint further states that the Delta Plan’s regulatory scheme is focused primarily on further constraining Central Valley Project and State Water Project water supplies conveyed through the Delta while failing to address the broader issues, both short and long-term, as intended by the Delta Reform Act.
” … The Delta Plan must be consistent with the goals of the BDCP and cannot impede its effective implementation, particularly with respect to water supply and ecosystem objectives. Those objectives include restoring and protecting the ability of the CVP and SWP to deliver up to full contract amounts when hydrologic condition result in the availability of sufficient water, consistent with the requirements of state and federal law and conditions of water delivery contracts and other existing applicable agreements. … “
The Petitioners are seeking a writ of mandate (a court order to a government agency to follow the law by correcting its prior actions or ceasing illegal acts) directing the Council to vacate and set aside its actions:
” … Unless this Court grants the requested writ of mandate to require the Council to set aside its certification of the PEIR and approval of the Delta Plan, the Council’s decisions will remain in effect in violation of state law.”