NRDC renews motion for immediate continuance of hearings in light of anticipated changes to project
Dear Hearing Officers and Service List,
On behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council et al, we are renewing our January 31, 2018 motion for an immediate stay or continuance of Part 2 of the hearing and request that the Hearing Officers reconsider their February 6, 2018 ruling denying NRDC’s motion for stay or continuance in light of anticipated changes to the project. The February 6th ruling stated that, “News reports that Petitioners are considering a modification to the project do not constitute good cause to halt all consideration of the change petition currently before us.” (emphasis in original)
However, the attached letter from DWR to State Water Project contractors dated February 7, 2018, proposes to change the WaterFix project so that a first phase will be a single tunnel with 2 intakes (6,000 cfs), with no certainty that a second phase would ever be constructed (“… stage two would begin once additional funding commitments are made from supporting water agencies.”). The attached letter also makes clear that a supplemental Environmental Impact Report under CEQA and revised ESA and CESA permits will be required, and that the supplemental draft EIR will not be publicly available until June of 2018. The letter also discloses that there is substantial preliminary modeling of a single tunnel, two intake (6,000 cfs) project, which has just been posted online, the day before Part 2 of the hearing begins. DWR apparently seeks to move forward with construction of a first phase without funding commitments for the entire project, in violation of State law. These admissions are consistent with NRDC’s prior motion for stay of Part 2. More information from DWR’s change to the project are online at: https://www.californiawaterfix.com/staged-project-implementation/.
The changes to the project, additional modeling, and other information is clearly beyond the scope of the written testimony submitted by DWR in part 2. For the reasons stated in our motion, continuing with Part 2 of the hearing would prejudice NRDC and other protestants and is not in the public interest. In light of the major change to the WaterFix project that DWR has proposed, we renew our motion for an immediate stay or continuance of Part 2 of the hearing and request that the Hearing Officers immediately reconsider their February 6, 2018 ruling denying our motion to stay Part 2 of the hearing. Consistent with the Board’s February 6, 2017 ruling, we request an immediate stay of Part 2 of the hearing until the Hearing Officers have solicited “input from the parties as to whether such modifications necessitate an amended change petition or new or supplemental CEQA analysis.”
On February 6, 2018 your ruling directed Petitioners to update you and the parties if and when DWR decides to modify the proposed WaterFix project. DWR interprets this language to mean that you would like to remain informed of any updates to the Department’s approach to the California WaterFix. DWR is not modifying the proposed WaterFix project or the petition, but in order to keep you informed of the most current thinking with regard to construction we submit the attached memo and serve it upon all the parties to the water rights hearing.
The Department looks forward to the resumption of the hearing tomorrow, February 8th.