Authority Responds to Coastkeeper Suit on Water Plan
Stone on April 28, 2014
San Diego County Water Authority on Monday defended its water-supply
plan in the wake of a lawsuit by an environmental group filed
the same day the water agency won a major victory against
its water supplier.
lawsuit was announced Monday by San Diego Coastkeeper.
group said it filed suit Friday against the water authority
for what it calls failures to account for the environmental
impacts of existing and future water supply sources in its
recently approved water supply plan.
in San Diego Superior Court, the legal action calls on the
water authority to follow state law by recognizing and accounting
for the energy it uses to move and treat the regions
care about our water supplys energy use because it produces
greenhouse gas emissions, a primary driver of global climate
change, said Matt OMalley, San Diego Coastkeepers
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.
filed suit under the California Environmental Quality Act,
or CEQA, a state law that requires the agency to identify
and address environmental impacts of its actions. The lawsuit
holds the water authority accountable for failing to meet
legal requirements addressing the greenhouse gas emissions
resulting from its water supply plan, the group said.
water supply plan officially called the Regional Water
Facilities Optimization and Master Plan Update explores
the regions needs for and options to address water supply,
and sets precedent for related decisions through 2035.
March 27, the water authority approved this plan and its accompanying
Supplemental Program Environmental Impact Report and Climate
said it had been part of the planning process since early
2013 and repeatedly called on the water authority to prioritize
and incentivize conservation and recycling and carry
out an appropriate greenhouse gas reduction plan.
water authority declined to incorporate this public feedback,
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, the Escondido attorney
representing San Diego Coastkeeper. In reality, the
plans they approved will pose profound negative impacts to
San Diegos environment and ratepayers for years to come.
water authority has 20 days from receiving service to set
a settlement conference date, Coastkeeper said.
Weinberg, director of water resources for the agency, defended
the 2013 master plan, saying the update and related environmental
documents involved about two dozen public workshops,
meetings and hearings since September 2011.
water authoritys documents not only meet the letter
of the law, they are good for the environment and good for
the region, Weinberg said in response to a Times query.
master plan update continues to place an increased emphasis
on water conservation and local water supply development in
San Diego County that was established in the water authoritys
2010 Urban Water Management Plan.
an example, he cited the 2013 master plan updates analysis
of future regional water supply reliability, which identifies
potable reuse as the next most likely increment of local water
supply in the county.
prioritizes the efforts under consideration by water authority
member agencies, such as a large-scale potable reuse project
being studied by the city of San Diego, ahead of any additional
regional supply projects being studied by the agency.
said construction of that project or others by member agencies
would minimize or eliminate the need for the agency to develop
extra water supplies over the next 25 years.
prudent investments and regional conservation efforts allowed
the water authority to defer several major projects, decrease
the size of other projects and reduce projected capital improvement
program costs by at least $653 million through 2025 in the
most recent master plan update.
A San Diego Coastkeeper press release contributed to this