Victory for the NorthState!

Faulty Delta Stewardship Council Plan and EIR Stopped

legal_victory6.23.16: We won! The Delta Stewardship Council’s poorly-crafted Plan to reduce reliance on water exports from the Delta, provide a reliable supply of water, and protect and enhance water quality from the Delta failed to pass legal muster. This is a tremendous victory in our ongoing efforts to protect the communities, businesses, and environment from the demands for water outside our region.

AquAlliance asserted in public and written comments spanning years that the Plan and the Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) failed to disclose and analyze the source of the water that the Plan sought to reach its lofty goals. It was clear to us that NorthState water was, as always, the target – especially our groundwater. AquAlliance and colleagues[1] also formally commented on the draft EIR in 2012 and a recirculated version in 2013 and then filed a state lawsuit in June 2013. Years passed dealing with numerous procedural issues until Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny issued a substantive ruling in May 2016. In his ruling he determined that the DSC didn’t demonstrate reduced reliance on the Delta. How it impacted the EIRs’ legitimacy wasn’t too clear to attorneys on all sides of the litigation, so clarification was sought.

Today Judge Kenny explained his May ruling stating, “To be clear, the Delta Plan is invalid and must be set aside until proper revisions are completed. As Respondent itself argued previously, in light of an invalid Delta Plan, there is no proposed project, and consequently nothing before the Court to review under CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act]. The Court does not believe that piece-meal CEQA review is feasible under circumstances in which significant Plan revisions are required.”

The DSC must now go back to the drawing board as it has a legislative mandate to create a viable plan.[2] This ruling is also a stake in the heart of the state’s desire to build the Twin Tunnels, 40-foot diameter Tunnels that would drain the Sacramento River and NorthState aquifers,[3] diminish vital flows into the already stressed Delta, further stress native salmon runs, and destroy the economy and environment of the Sacramento Valley. The DSC Plan relied on the Twin Tunnels that are intended to benefit huge unsustainable corporate agribusiness on the west-side of the San Joaquin Valley.[4]

It is predictable that the DSC will appeal the ruling and AquAlliance and our colleagues will stay with the case with our good attorneys. But for now, celebrate!

[1] California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and California Water Impact Network
[2] 2009 Delta Reform Act, California Water Code § 85000 et seq.
[3] If the Twin Tunnels are built as planned with the capacity to take 15,000 cubic feet per second (“cfs”) from the Sacramento River, they will have the capacity to drain almost two-thirds of the Sacramento River’s average annual flow of 23,490 cfs at Freeport  (north of the planned Twin Tunnels). As proposed, the Twin Tunnels will also increase water transfers when the infrastructure for the Project has capacity. This will occur during dry years when State Water Project (“SWP”) contractor allocations drop to 50 percent of Table A amounts or below or when Central Valley Project (“CVP”) agricultural allocations are 40 percent or below, or when both projects’ allocations are at or below these levels (EIS/EIR Chapter 5). With this Project, North to South water transfers will be in demand and feasible.
[4] An excellent 2012, 14-minute video by Salmon Water Now! provides the viewer with a succinct understanding of the politics of water and greed in California (

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