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Delta Plan Litigation

SUMMARY

Almost immediately following May 2013 adoption of the Delta Plan and its implementing regulations, 26 parties – local agencies, organizations, and individuals – filed seven lawsuits against the Council challenging the Plan, the associated Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and the Plan’s regulations.

 

In May 2016, the Superior Court upheld the Council on the vast majority of issues, including that the Council used best available science in developing the Delta Plan. The Court also ruled that the Delta Plan’s regulations promote improved water quality, its flow recommendations promote conditions for species recovery, it promotes risk reduction strategies, and its conservation measures promote reduced reliance on the Delta. The Court, however, invalidated the entire Delta Plan because of what it identified as inadequacies in the following areas:

  • The lack of enforceable, quantifiable targets for achieving reduced Delta reliance, reduced harm from invasive species, restoring more natural flows and increased water supply reliability, and
  • Inadequate “promotion” of conveyance options to improve the way water projects move water across the Delta.

 

The Council and other parties have appealed the Court’s ruling, which means the invalidation of the Plan has been stayed (placed on hold) pending further action by the Appellate Court. Thus the Plan remains in force and project proponents with covered actions remain legally required to file consistency certifications with the Council.

 

TIMELINE

 

LATEST NEWS

On January 9, 2017 the Court approved a stipulated judgement (e.g., a settlement agreement) between the Counil and the City of Stockton.

Between November and December 2016, the Delta Stewardship Council appealed the June 23, 2016 Sacramento Superior Court ruling to set aside the Delta Plan until specified revisions are completed.

On May 18, 2016 and July 12, 2016 the Sacramento Superior Court ruled in favor of the Delta Stewardship Council on the vast majority of issues regarding the adequacy of its master plan for the Delta, but also ruled to set aside the Delta Plan until specified revisions are completed.

 

ABOUT THE CASES

Following the adoption of the Plan and the implementing regulations, and within the 30-day statute of limitations provided by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), twenty-six petitioners, consisting of agencies, organizations, and individuals, filed seven lawsuits against the Council challenging the Plan, the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and the regulations.

 

Below, in bold, are the names of the lead petitioners in each of the seven lawsuits, followed by a list of other petitioners that joined in the particular lawsuit, and the venue in which the action was filed:

 

California Water Impact Network, et al. (Superior Court of San Francisco)

  1. Friends of the River
  2. California Water Impact Network
  3. California Sportsfishing Protection Alliance
  4. AquAlliance v. Restore the Delta vi. Center for Biological Diversity

Central Delta Water Agency, et al. (Superior Court of San Francisco)

  1. Central Delta Water Agency
  2. South Delta Water Agency
  3. Lafayette Ranch, Inc.
  4. Cindy Charles
  5. Local Agencies of the North Delta

North Coast Rivers Alliance, et al. (Sacramento County Superior Court)

  1. North Coast Rivers Alliance
  2. Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations
  3. San Francisco Crab Boat Owners association
  4. Winnemem Wintu Tribe

San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and Westlands Water District (Sacramento County Superior Court)

  1. Westlands water district
  2. San Luis and Delta Mendota Water Authority

Save the California Delta Alliance (Superior Court of San Francisco)

City of Stockton (San Joaquin County Superior Court)

State Water Contractors, et al. (Sacramento County Superior Court)

   1. State Water Contractors

   2. Antelope Valley-E Kern Water Agency

   3. Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District

   4. San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District

   5. Santa Clara Valley Water District

   6.Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

   7. Mojave Water Agency

 

OTHER COURT DOCUMENTS

COORDINATION

Following the filing of the lawsuits by the above parties, the Delta Stewardship Council petitioned the Judicial Council of California for an order coordinating the seven lawsuits in the same court in Sacramento County. The order was granted on October 1, 2013 and the cases – captioned as “the Delta Stewardship Council Cases”- were all brought to the Superior Court of Sacramento. A copy of that order is listed below:

CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER

A case management order was issued by Judge Michael P. Kenny on July 18, 2014. A copy of that order is listed below:

OPENING BRIEFS
Opening briefs were filed by petitioners in the Delta Plan cases. Copies are linked below:

  1. C-WIN and San Luis & Delta Mendota, et al. and State Water Contractors, et al. Opening Brief
  2. North Coast Rivers Alliance Opening Brief
  3. Central Delta Water Agency, et al. and California Water Impact Network, et al. Opening Brief
  4. Save the California Delta Alliance, et al. Opening Brief
  5. City of Stockton Opening Brief

OPPOSITION BRIEF
The Council's opposition brief was due on April 6, 2015 and was filed on that date. A copy of the brief is listed below:

AMICUS BRIEFS

REPLY BRIEFS

The Petitioners’ reply/response briefs were due on May 21, 2015 and were filed on or before that date. Copies are linked below:

  1. C-WIN and San Luis & Delta Mendota, et al. and State Water Contractors, et al. Reply Brief
  2. North Coast Rivers Alliance Reply Brief
  3. Central Delta Water Agency, et al. and California Water Impact Network, et al. Reply Brief
  4. Save the California Delta Alliance, et al. Reply Brief
  5. City of Stockton Reply Brief

 

Coequal goals

The Delta Stewardship Council was created in legislation to achieve the state mandated coequal goals for the Delta. "'Coequal goals' means the two goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. The coequal goals shall be achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta as an evolving place." (CA Water Code §85054)