Foothill Conservancy, CSPA and Friends of the River Prevail in Suit; EBMUD Will Revise Environmental Impact Report

The Foothill Conservancy, CSPA and Friends of the River have won a lawsuit that will compel the East Bay Municipal Utilities District to revise its Program Environmental Impact Report (“PEIR”) for its long term water supply. The PEIR for the “Water Supply Management Plan 2040” was found deficient in an April 13, 2011 ruling by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley.

CSPA and the other plaintiffs challenged the PEIR because it included among several alternatives an increase in the size of Pardee Reservoir. This increase could inundate up to three miles of the Mokelumne River upstream of the current high water level of Pardee. Increasing the size of Pardee would eliminate or degrade the aquatic values and recreational use of the inundated portion of the river, and reduce high spring flows in the Lower Mokelumne and the Delta further downstream.

Judge Frawley identified three major flaws in the PEIR. First, the PEIR did not accurately describe the affected portion of Mokelumne River and its recreational uses. Second, the PEIR did not adequately address safety concerns that would result from the elimination of Middle Bar Bridge, which provides access and an escape route to the area during emergencies, notably fire. Finally, and most significantly, the judge said that the alternatives analyzed by the PEIR were all too much alike. In particular, the judge called out the failure by EBMUD to analyze partnering with Contra Costa Water District to store a dry year water reserve in an expanded Los Vaqueros Reservoir, west of the Delta. This alternative would not require any streamflow reductions in the Mokelumne River.

Thomas Infusino and Michael Graf represented the plaintiffs in this action. In a press release published on May 24, EBMUD announced that it will revise its EIR rather than appeal Judge Frawley’s ruling.

Foothill Conservancy, CSPA, FOR and other conservation groups regularly attended EBMUD meetings related to the Water Supply Management Plan in 2009, and patiently urged the EBMUD Board to take the “Raise Pardee” option out of the Plan. Beginning in June, we will again need to devote significant time to meetings where we will urge EBMUD to make better choices the second time around. Please support CSPA and our allies in this important work.

EBMUD’s press release can be found on the web using the following link:

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