Joint SLDMWA, FWA & TCCA Statement on a Lawsuit to protect California’s Central Valley Project
This week, a coalition of water providers filed suit to protect the Central Valley Project (CVP) and the farms, businesses, residents and wildlife refuges it serves in 17 California counties.
As California embarks on an unprecedented effort to rebuild our economy, we strongly encourage the State of California to recognize the importance of CVP water deliveries to every facet of our economy and social fabric in California’s Central Valley, the Bay Area and the Central Coast. Rather than efforts that will limit our economic recovery, we urge the State of California to sit down with the operators of the CVP and State Water Project (SWP) and develop a joint operations plan that is not in conflict with the federal Biological Opinions (BiOps) and can advance voluntary agreements as a long-term solution to meet multiple objectives in the Bay-Delta.
It is disappointing that State officials have not, to date, engaged with their federal counterparts to resolve these issues after first announcing their intent to sue last fall, and today’s action is the unfortunate result of an environment of escalating legal conflicts over issues that need not be resolved in a courtroom.
As background, the State of California recently filed suit challenging the operations of the CVP and now, through its Incidental Take Permit (ITP), the State could further limit the ability of the CVP to deliver water to its customers. These actions have compelled today’s legal filing in Fresno County Superior Court, which reflects concerns by the water suppliers and citizens that depend upon the CVP that the State’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) supporting the ITP does not address impacts to the CVP. The lawsuit also reflects concerns that implementation of the ITP will lead to disruptions in water deliveries and prevent meaningful progress on collaborative efforts to secure long-term water supply reliability for millions of Californians while also achieving the reasonable protection of fish and wildlife beneficial uses in the Bay-Delta watershed.
Through our legal action, we are aligning with the water suppliers that depend upon the State Water Project (SWP), who have separately challenged the State’s action this week. The parties now challenging this action supply water to more than 29 million Californians, nearly 75% of California’s population, more than 4 million acres of farmland, and hundreds of thousands of acres of managed wetlands and habitat of critical importance to threatened and endangered species and migratory waterfowl. We are collectively committed to rebuilding our economy and ensuring water deliveries to all Californians.
The parties to the suit include nearly all parts of the CVP throughout California, as the case is brought by the Tehama Colusa Canal Authority, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, Friant Water Authority, and several Sacramento River Settlement Contractors.