On 4 August 2015, The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) and AquAlliance, collectively “Petitioners,” filed a lawsuit against the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and a writ of mandate, under California Code of Civil Procedure, in Alameda County Superior Court. The lawsuit alleges that the State Water Board and its Executive Director violated the California Water Code, Public Trust Doctrine and a suite of environmental laws when it issued a series of Temporary Urgency Change Orders (TUCP Orders) that weakened legally adopted standards protecting water quality and fisheries.
This action is a companion to a 3 June 2015 federal lawsuit against the Department of Interior and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, Central Valley Project Improvement Act and Clean Water Act. The lawsuit asks the court to issue a writ of mandate ordering the State Water Board to vacate its TUCP Orders, to preliminarily and permanently enjoin the Board from activities undertaken pursuant to the TUCP Orders, enter a declaratory judgment that the Board has engaged in an illegal pattern and practice of adopting TUCP Orders and enjoin the Board from further engaging in an illegal pattern and practice of adopting TUCP Orders that violate the law.
“This lawsuit is an effort to prevent the extinction of fisheries that thrived for millennia. If Delta and longfin smelt and winter- and spring-run Chinook salmon go extinct, it will not be because of drought. These fish survived the great mega-droughts of the past. But they may not survive the State Water Board’s serial violations of law,” said CSPA Executive Director Bill Jennings adding, “fallowed fields will be replanted after the drought, extinct fisheries are forever lost.”