[env-trinity] Delta Stewardship Council says Westlands lawsuit is 'disappointing'

Dan Bacher danielbacher at fishsniffer.com
Fri May 31 10:20:15 PDT 2013


http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/05/30/1212757/-Delta-Stewardship- 
Council-says-Westlands-lawsuit-is-disappoint

In response to the Council's statement, Bill Jennings, Executive  
Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and a  
board member of Restore the Delta and the California Water Impact  
Network (C-WIN), quipped, "If the Council is disappointed by the  
Westlands lawsuit, they will be appalled by the avalanche of lawsuits  
from everyone else that is coming down the road."

Photo of Bill Jennings speaking at a Restore the Delta protest  
outside of the Delta Stewardship Council meeting in West Sacramento  
on March 16.



800_img_2492.jpg
original image ( 5184x3456)

Delta Stewardship Council says Westlands lawsuit is 'disappointing'

by Dan Bacher

Chris Knopp, Executive Officer of the Delta Stewardship Council, on  
May 30 released a statement complaining that the Westlands Water  
District lawsuit filed in Sacramento Superior Court seeking a redo of  
the Council’s recently adopted Final Delta Plan was "disappointing."

In a rare moment in California water politics, everybody who spoke  
during the public comment period during the Council meeting in West  
Sacramento on May 16 opposed the plan. Everybody from fishing group  
representatives to the Metropolitan Water District representative  
slammed the plan and Environmental Impact Report, though for  
different reasons. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/05/17/1209844/- 
Delta-Stewardship-Council-Adopts-Plan-Amidst-Massive-Opposition)

"The lawsuit filed recently by the Westlands Water District and San  
Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority is disappointing, but not  
unexpected," said Knapp. "In essence, this suit challenges the  
adequacy of the Environmental Impact Report under the California  
Environmental Quality Act, and the Council’s authority under, and  
compliance with, the Delta Reform Act. Neither avenues of challenge,  
in our opinion, have merit."

"The Delta Reform Act clearly tasks the Council with developing an  
enforceable management plan for the Delta that furthers the coequal  
goals of a reliable water supply for California and protection and  
enhancement of the Delta ecosystem," he claimed. "As we have stated  
all along, the Council’s Delta Plan is a moderate and reasonable  
path forward that is consistent with the requirements and authorities  
granted by Delta Reform Act. The Plan contains a mix of targeted  
regulatory policies, nonbinding recommendations, and a strong  
emphasis on interagency coordination."

"The approach advocated by plaintiffs—one purely facilitative and  
without regulatory effect—is inconsistent with the Delta Reform Act  
and resolving the ongoing crisis in the Delta," Knopp stated. "It is  
unfortunate that these two public water agencies would rather waste  
time in court than certify that they are using water efficiently and  
are in compliance with existing state laws and regulations."

"While we will strongly defend this lawsuit, the Council is committed  
to working with all the stakeholders to begin implementation of this  
important and foundational Delta Plan," said Knopp.

Westlands said it joined the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water  
Authority in the lawsuit filed on May 24 to require the Delta  
Stewardship Council to revise the Delta Plan "to be consistent with  
the 2009 Delta Reform Act, which created the Council," according to a  
Westlands Water District press release.

"In particular, the action asserts that the Delta Plan fails to  
achieve the co-equal goals of Delta ecosystem restoration and water  
supply reliability established by the Act," the district said.

Tom Birmingham, General Manager of the Westlands Water District, also  
said, “The fundamental problem with the Delta Plan is that it goes  
well beyond the statutory authority granted by the Legislature. That  
extension of authority will impact the ability of the State to manage  
current water supplies and develop new infrastructure to secure  
California’s future needs.” (http://yubanet.com/california/Dan- 
Bacher-Westlands-Water-District-Files-Lawsuit-Against-Delta-Plan.php)

The complaint also claims the Council failed to prepare and certify a  
legally adequate EIR for the Delta Plan.

”For every resource area in the PEIR, the discussions of project  
impacts, mitigation measures, and conclusions fail to meet this  
standard and violate CEQA because they consist of mere speculation  
and unsupported assumptions...," according to the complaint.

The complete court documents are available at the Maven's Notebook  
website at: http://mavensnotebook.com/2013/05/28/court-documents-for- 
delta-plan-lawsuit/#more-4102

In response to the Council's statement, Bill Jennings, Executive  
Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and a  
board member of Restore the Delta and the California Water Impact  
Network (C-WIN), quipped, "If the Council is disappointed by the  
Westlands lawsuit, they will be appalled by the avalanche of lawsuits  
from everyone else that is coming down the road."

"I remind the Council that by developing a seriously deficient plan  
and a grossly inadequate EIR that supports the status quo rather than  
finding solutions to the water crisis, they have have ushered in the  
next generation of water wars," said Jennings. "Fishermen, Westlands  
Water District and San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority can all  
agree that the plan and the EIR failed to meet even the minimum  
statutory requirements."

In his testimony before the Council on May 16, Jennings describe the  
Delta Plan as "a classic shell game to benefit special interests that  
if implemented, would represent a death sentence for one of the  
world's great estuaries."

The Delta Plan was developed under the helm of Phil Isenberg, Chair  
of the Delta Stewardship Council, who previously served as Chair of  
the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative  
Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas"  
on California's Central Coast. Isenberg also served as Chair of  
Arnold Schwarzenegger's Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, which  
recommended the construction of a peripheral canal or tunnels.

As was the case in the parallel Marine Life Protection Act  
Initiative, Delta Vision and Bay Delta Conservation Plan  
“collaborative” processes, the goal of the Delta Stewardship  
Council was to present a façade of an "open and transparent" process  
where the “input” of the “stakeholders” was considered when  
the outcome of the process was predetermined by state officials and  
corporate interests.

For more information about the history of Westlands Water District,  
please read Lloyd Carter's impeccably researched article in the  
Golden Gate Environmental Law Journal, Fall 2009: http://www.c- 
win.org/sites/default/files/GGU-ELJ.pdf 
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