On 16 September 2015, attorneys for CSPA, CWIN and AquAlliance filed an amended lawsuit against the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) seeking declaratory and injunctive relief invalidating the SWRCB’s pattern and practice policy of weakening water quality protection standards adopted pursuant to federal law and incorporated into water rights licenses and permits held by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and California Department of Water Resources in violation of the Clean Water Act and public trust doctrine.
Over the last two years, the SWRCB has weakened crucial flow and water quality requirements protecting pelagic and salmonid fisheries in the Bay-Delta and Sacramento River on numerous occasions. For example, in 2014, the SWRCB reduced regulatory Delta outflow by 43% and increased Delta exports by 18%. In 2015, the SWRCB reduced regulatory outflow by 78% in order to increase exports by 32%. These changes shifted more than one million acre-feet of water from fisheries protection to agricultural and urban use. As a result, Delta and longfin smelt and winter-run Chinook salmon populations have collapsed to their lowest levels and are on the verge of possible extinction.
The amended complaint asks the court to declare that the SWRCB has engaged in an illegal pattern and practice of weakening water quality standards in violation of the Clean Water Act and public trust doctrine and to preliminarily and permanently enjoin the SWRCB from their pattern and practice of weakening standards protecting the Bay-Delta and Sacramento River.