[env-trinity] Public Trust, Unreasonable Use Complaint Filed With State Water Board

Dan Bacher danielbacher at fishsniffer.com
Tue Mar 18 23:54:25 PDT 2008


Embargoed for Release until 10 a.m. Wednesday

19 March 2008

For information:
Bill Jennings, CSPA Executive Director, 209-464-5067, 209-938-9053  
(cell), deltakeep [at] aol.com
Carolee Krieger, C-WIN Chairperson, 805-969-0824, caroleekrieger [at]  
cox.net
Michael Jackson, attorney for petitioners, 530-283-0712, 530-927-7387  
(cell), mjatty [at] sbcglobal.net

Public Trust, Unreasonable Use Complaint Filed With State Board
Groups will Sue in 60 Days if Board Fails to Schedule Evidentiary  
Hearing

Two statewide environmental organizations filed a public trust, waste  
and unreasonable use of water and method of diversion petition with  
the State Water Resources Control Board today (March 19) contending  
the Board has failed to halt the continuing ecological collapse of  
the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary by permitting excessive amounts  
of Northern California water to be pumped to western San Joaquin mega- 
farms and Southern California.

The California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) and the California  
Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) contend the Water Board has  
allowed the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the  
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) to pump so much water each year  
from the beleaguered Delta that many fish species have been pushed to  
the brink of extinction, forcing citizen groups to turn to the courts  
instead of the Water Board, which has primary authority for  
protecting the state's surface water supplies.

“The Water Board has served as a handmaiden for decades to special  
interest groups instead of doing its job as a regulatory agency,”  
said Carolee Krieger, Chair of the C-WIN board of directors. “Dying  
fish populations and degraded drinking water are the result of this  
shocking dereliction of duty. It is time board members realize they  
have a duty to protect the public's interest in our state's aquatic  
resources and drinking supplies," she added.

Bill Jennings, executive director of CSPA noted that because of the  
ongoing failure of the Water Board to do its job a federal judge in  
Fresno recently was forced to order reduced pumping in the Delta to  
protect endangered fish species - an action C-WIN and CSPA said the  
Water Board should have taken years ago.

"The stall-and-delay tactics of the Water Board as the Central  
Valley’s salmonid fisheries and the Delta’s pelagic fisheries  
collapse borders on the criminal," said Jennings, a longtime critic  
of the Water Board's history of inaction and delay. "Watching  
fisheries that God nurtured over tens of thousands of years being  
virtually destroyed in less than two decades while DWR, the Bureau  
and the State Board continue their embrace of denial is surely one of  
the most wretched and despicable spectacles we have ever witnessed,”  
he said.

The two groups say that if the Water Board does not take decisive  
action to begin reversing the decline of the Delta within the next 60  
days they will take the matter into state court.

The page petition filed by C-WIN attorney Michael B. Jackson notes  
that despite a massive accumulation of evidence that something is  
seriously wrong in the Delta, the Water Board has still not  
established mandatory minimum daily flows from upstream dams on the  
main rivers feeding the Delta in order to protect salmon and other  
species of fish.

The petition alleges the Water Board is violating the Public Trust  
Doctrine, the California Constitution and numerous California Water  
Code sections and federal laws by allowing clearly excessive export  
of Northern California water from the South Delta pumps resulting in  
an unreasonable use and method of diversion of water. While there is  
more than one cause contributing to the Delta's decline, including  
invasive species and degraded water quality, excessive pumping is  
clearly the main problem, the petition contends.

Water Board action demanded by the two groups includes: (1)  
modification of existing water rights to improve the fishery; (2)  
mandatory daily flow requirements; (3) mandatory pulse flows during  
salmon migration; (4) functional fish passage facilities on all dams;  
(5) state-of-the-art fish screens on all diversion points to prevent  
young fish from being ground up in the Delta pumps or sucked down  
irrigation ditches; (6) requiring DWR and the Bureau of Reclamation  
to begin actually complying with all water and fishery protection  
laws; and (7) establishing minimum pool and temperature requirements  
on all water storage reservoirs to protect fish.

The petition requests the board to begin holding evidentiary hearings  
including testimony under oath, cross-examination and rebuttal on the  
issues raised as soon as possible.

CSPA is a public benefit conservation and research organization  
established in 1983 for the purpose of conserving, restoring, and  
enhancing the state’s water quality, fisheries and associated  
aquatic and riparian ecosystems. On behalf of its members, CSPA  
participates in administrative and judicial proceedings before state  
and federal agencies and actively enforces laws protective of  
fisheries and water quality.

C-WIN is a non-profit public benefit corporation formed under the  
laws of the State of California for the purpose of protecting and  
restoring the scenery, fish and wildlife resources, water quality,  
recreational opportunities, agricultural uses, and other natural  
environmental resources and uses of the rivers and streams of  
California, including the Bay/Delta, its watershed and its underlying  
groundwater resources.


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