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San Diego Coastkeeper Is Suing County Water Authority For Alleged Failure to Account for Environmental Impacts
By Michelle Mowad, April 29, 2014

San Diego Coastkeeper is suing the San Diego County Water Authority, alleging its recently approved water supply plan failed to account for existing and future environmental impacts.

The suit alleges the local water agency violated the California Environmental Quality Act because it did not address the environmental impacts or account for the energy used to move and treat the water it supplied.

"We care about our water supply's energy use because it produces greenhouse gas emissions, a primary driver of global climate change," said Matt O'Malley of Coastkeeper. "Water supply decisions based on this plan could jeopardize the health and economic viability of San Diego County by contributing to climate change impacts like sea level rise."

The Water Authority did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit, which was filed in Superior Court on Friday.

The Regional Water Facilities Optimization and Master Plan Update, adopted last month, was designed to serve as a roadmap for future capital projects and responding to climate change as it relates to agency activities through 2035.

According to water authority officials, investments in new energy generation will allow the San Diego CWA to meet 2020 state targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent.

The plan included an environmental analysis and a climate action plan.

Coastkeeper officials said they had repeatedly called on the Water Authority to prioritize conservation and recycling, and to implement a greenhouse gas reduction plan. They allege the Water Authority declined to incorporate their suggestions into the plan.

"The Water Authority claims they approved only a couple minor amendments to their plans and operations and can therefore avoid any real scrutiny," said Everett DeLano, an attorney representing San Diego Coastkeeper. "In reality, the plans they approved will pose profound negative impacts to San Diego's environment and ratepayers for years to come."

—City News Service

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