State Water Contractors Files Lawsuit Challenging Delta Plan: Delta Stewardship Council Overreach Threatens State’s Water Supply Reliability

From the State Water Contractors:

The State Water Contractors (SWC) today filed a lawsuit challenging the Delta Stewardship Council’s (DSC) recently approved Delta Plan and the Program Environmental Impact Report (Program EIR) for the Delta Plan.  Under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009 (Act), the Legislature carefully defined the DSC’s authority to adopt a Delta Plan aimed at furthering the state’s coequal goals of achieving a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem in a manner that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta as an evolving place.  But the recently approved Delta Plan includes policies that would give the DSC discretion that exceeds the Legislature’s express grant of jurisdiction. 

One key concern is that the Delta Plan could impede implementation of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), which is designed to make water supplies more reliable while improving the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (Delta) ecosystem.  In addition, the Program EIR for the Delta Plan violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  Contrary to one of the Act’s coequal goals of achieving a more reliable water supply for California, the Program EIR assumes that implementation of the Delta Plan will result in substantial reductions in the delivery and use of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (Delta).  But, among other things, it fails to identify feasible replacement water sources, and it fails to analyze the many significant impacts of the plan that will occur outside of the Delta region.  SWC is asking that the court require the DSC to set aside the approval of the Delta Plan, produce a legally adequate Program EIR to inform the public and decision-makers of the plan’s significant impacts, and not move forward with any plan that exceeds the DSC’s authority or that could frustrate, rather than further, achieving the Act’s coequal goals.

“Our public water agencies are committed to water conservation measures, reducing water demands, developing local supplies and finding a workable solution for the Delta, but as it currently stands, the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan goes well beyond its intended scope. Ultimately, the Delta Plan and its environmental impact report violate the California Environmental Quality Act, ignore the Legislature’s express direction to consider the two coequal goals of water supply reliability and environmental protection, exceed the narrow authority granted to the Council under the Legislature’s Delta Reform Act and fail to provide the public and decision-makers with an understanding of the magnitude of the Delta Plan’s significant environmental impacts.”

Terry Erlewine
General Manager
State Water Contractors

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