CSPA, Coalition Sues Waterboards Over Grasslands Bypass Pollutant Discharges to San Joaquin River

On 5 May 2020, CSPA and a coalition of fishing and tribal groups (CSPA et al.) sued the State and Regional Water Boards, Bureau of Reclamation and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority over illegal discharges of pollutants from the Grasslands Bypass Project into the San Joaquin River.  The Lawsuit alleges violations of the federal Clean Water Act, Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act, Delta Reform Act, California Environmental Quality Act and Public Trust Doctrine.

The Bypass Project drains substantial quantities of selenium, salts, sulfates, mercury, arsenic and other pollutants collected from 97,400 acres of farmland in the Central Valley and discharges those contaminates into the San Joaquin River.  These discharges frequent exceed aquatic life criteria.

Late last year, CSPA et al. prevailed at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on a 2011 lawsuit alleging that discharges from Grasslands Project required a federal NPDES discharge permit.  However, the Regional Water Board issued significantly less stringent state Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs) for the Bypass discharges.  In January 2019, the WDRs were appealed to the State Water Board.  The subject lawsuit was filed after the State Board declined to hear the appeal.  Of note, CSPA also has a current CEQA, CWA and Public Trust lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority regarding the 2019 certification of the Addendum to the Final 2009 EIS/EIR for the Grassland Bypass Project.

The Law Offices of Stephan C. Volker is representing CSPA et al. in both actions.

Lawsuit  Ninth Circuit Decision  State Board Appeal  CEQA Complaint

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