files suit against Water Authority's master plan
JAMES PALEN, The Daily Transcript, April 29, 2014
Diego Coastkeeper has filed a lawsuit against the San Diego
County Water Authority that alleges the Water Authority failed
to account for the environmental impacts of its latest master
plan update, which was adopted in late March.
on Friday in San Diego Superior Court, the environmental group's
lawsuit calls on the Water Authority to amend its plans in
order to, as Coastkeeper sees it, more accurately recognize
and account for the energy used in moving and treating the
regions water. The lawsuit's basis of argument is the
California Environmental Quality Act, which requires the identification
of environmental impacts and measures with which to address
them in project planning.
target in the suit is the greenhouse gas emissions from planned
capital improvements in the Water Authority's roughly 20-year
infrastructure blueprint projects such as the Carlsbad
desalination project that is still under construction. Other
environmental groups, such as the California Environmental
Rights Foundation, hinted at the possibility of legal action
before the Water Authority adopted the long-term plan, known
as the Regional Water Facilities Optimization and Master Plan
Diego Coastkeeper waterkeeper Matt OMalley said in a
statement that because of what Coastkeeper sees as an inadequate
planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its projects,
the Water Authority's plan "could jeopardize the health
and economic viability of San Diego County."
group said its input during the planning process was not included
in the master plan update. Coastkeeper said it repeatedly
called on the Water Authority to implement an "appropriate"
greenhouse gas reduction plan, and to prioritize and incentivize
conservation and water recycling.
Water Authority claims they approved only a couple minor amendments
to their plans and operations and can therefore avoid any
real scrutiny, Escondido attorney Everett DeLano said
on behalf of Coastkeeper. In reality, the plans they
approved will pose profound negative impacts to San Diegos
environment and ratepayers for years to come.
Weinberg, director of water resources for the Water Authority,
said the master plan update and related environmental documents
were developed throught two dozen public workshops, meetings
and hearings since September 2011, and that they "not
only meet the letter of the law," but "are good
for the environment and good for the region."
added that the plan continues to place an increased emphasis
on water conservation and the local water supply development
that was established in the Water Authoritys 2010 Urban
Water Management Plan.
Water Authority has 20 days from its receipt of the service
to set a settlement conference date if it wishes to do so,
according to Coastkeeper.