On 17 June 2013, the California Sportsfishing Protection Alliance joined the California Water Impact Network, AquAlliance, Friends of the River, Center For Biological Diversity and Restore the Delta in filling a lawsuit against the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan and Environmental Impact Report. The lawsuit alleges numerous explicit violations of the statutory requirements of the Delta Reform Act, CEQA and Public Trust Doctrine.
The 2009 Delta Reform Act established the Council and tasked it to develop a Delta Plan to achieve the coequal goals of Delta restoration and water supply security. The Plan was to be based on the constitutional principle of reasonable use and the public trust doctrine. It was to use best available science and include quantitative performance measures.
Unfortunately, the Council failed in its mission because it was committed to supporting an unsustainable status quo and was unable to address the causes of California’s water crisis.
CSPA’s Executive Director Bill Jennings identified seven specific measures that the Delta Stewardship Council omitted to include in developing the Delta Plan. These include:
- The flow reports by the State Water Board and Department of Fish and Wildlife, which recommended substantial increase in Delta outflow.
- Biological performance objectives.
- Alternatives to protect water supply and Delta infrastructure against catastrophic events.
- A water availability analysis, critical for addressing the five-fold over-appropriation of water.
- Evaluation of the waste and unreasonable use of water, necessary for ensuring that a limited resource is used to maximum benefit.
- A benefit/cost analysis, crucial for developing new water supplies and regional self-reliance.
- A balance of the public trust, essential for ensuring that the common property right of all Californians are protected and balanced against those of special interests.
California is in a water supply crisis because the state has over-promised, wasted and inequitably distributed limited water resources. And the Delta’s ecological tapestry is disintegrating because the state has deprived the estuary of half its historical flow, turned its hydrograph on its head and used its waters as sewers.
CSPA and the other groups were forced to bring suit because the Stewardship Council elected to embrace the status quo rather than make the hard decisions necessary to restore the Delta and protect California’s water supply.