[env-trinity] FW: Please post to your list! Ratepayers, Farmers, & Conservationists File Suit to Block Southern Ag Water Grab
bwl3 at comcast.net
Thu Jun 3 16:33:58 PDT 2010
For Immediate Release, June 3, 2010
Contact: Carolee Krieger, Executive Director, C-WIN: 805-969-0824
Bill Jennings, Executive Director, CSPA: 209-464-5067
Adam Keats, Senior Counsel, CBD: 415-436-9682 x304
Ratepayers, Farmers, & Conservationists File Suit to
Block Southern Ag Water Grab
SANTA BARBARA, Calif.- Today groups are seeking to block a secret backroom
deal signed by five water contractors along with the Department of Water
Resources [DWR] to undo water contracts underlying voter approved bonds four
decades earlier. Absent court action, contract changes that largely benefit
southern central valley corporate irrigators at the expense of urban
ratepayers will trade away ratepayer funded projects and allow massive
diversions of water from the Delta charging only pumping costs.
"These contract changes break promises made to bond holders and ratepayers,"
said Carolee Krieger, President and Executive Director of the California
Water Impact Network [C-WIN], one of the groups seeking to block the
contract changes. "These changes undo decades of urban ratepayer
protections for the benefit of a few agribusiness corporations and real
estate developments at the expense of ratepayers and bondholders."
The back room deal, known as the "Monterey Amendments" signed in 1995
without public input was challenged in court. The courts ruled the contract
changes, deeding of portions of the State Water Project known as the Kern
Water Bank, and removal of protections for southern California ratepayers
would not be valid until a new analysis of the impacts had public review and
was certified as complete.
"The State Water Project and the Kern Water Bank were developed by the
state, at ratepayer expense, to benefit all of California-our cities, our
farms, and our fish," said Adam Keats, lead attorney with the Center for
Biological Diversity. "But with the Monterey Plus Amendments it has been
hijacked by private interests who are using it for their own ends, including
stockpiling water to enable destructive speculative development. Meanwhile
the state's entire water system gets closer and closer to collapse and
multiple fish species-salmon, Delta smelt, even Sacramento splittail-are
brought closer to the brink of extinction so that subsidized growers can
make profits off of water sales and new sprawl development can be built in
the last of our wild places."
The suit, filed today in Sacramento Superior Court, was brought by C-WIN,
the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, the Center for Biological
Diversity, and the Central Delta Water Agency and the South Delta Water
Agency agencies charged with protecting the in-channel water supply for
Delta-area farmers. The suit challenges the legality of the following:
. Institutionalizing the concept of "paper water" - water promised by
contract that can never realistically be delivered.
. Eliminating the "urban preference," which prioritized water deliveries to
municipal customers during drought. This change resulted in water shortages
and higher utility rates for southern California ratepayers.
. Illegally transferring state property known as the Kern Water Bank to
private entities and undermining the California Water Code by masking the
purpose and place of water use.
. Increasing water exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, thus
worsening water quality problems and triggering the collapse of the Delta's
ecosystem and fisheries.
The lawsuit seeks to reinstate the urban water preference during drought in
State Water Project contracts, reduce the pumping of Delta water that has
resulted in the collapse of fisheries, and return the Kern Water Bank to
"This was a poorly negotiated backdoor deal that put the wealthy growers of
subsidized crops ahead of fisheries and the need for a sustainable and
reliable supply of clean drinking water for California's cities," said Bill
Jennings, chairman of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance in
Stockton. "The Metropolitan Water District gambled it could raid the Delta
for 'surplus' water. It not only lost that bet, but the Monterey Plus
Amendments triggered the collapse of Delta ecosystems and our once-great
# # #
For more information on the Monterey Plus Amendments, see
The California Water Impact Network promotes the equitable and environmental
use of California's water, including instream uses, through research,
planning, public education, and litigation. <http://www.c-win.org/>
CSPA is a non-profit conservation and research organization established in
1983 for the purpose of conserving, restoring, and enhancing the state's
water quality and fishery resources and their aquatic and riparian
ecosystems. <http://www.calsport.org/> www.calsport.org
The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization
with more than 200,000 members and online activists dedicated to the
protection of endangered species and wild places.
Water Policy Analyst/Media Contact
California Water Impact Network
<mailto:tstokely at att.net> tstokely at att.net
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