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California Water Users Sue Federal Agencies

March 13, 2009

Government Actions Exacerbating Water Crisis

BAKERSFIELD, Calif., March 13 /PRNewswire/ — The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta and the Kern County Water Agency (KCWA) today joined other water users in California by filing suit against federal agencies challenging regulatory restrictions placed on the state’s water operations. The severe water supply restrictions have resulted from federal agency actions designed to protect the Delta smelt, a federally protected endangered species that lives in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The restrictions have greatly reduced water supplies for 25 million Californians and millions of acres of productive San Joaquin Valley farmland.

“The actions by federal agencies are greatly exacerbating California’s ongoing water supply crisis and doing significant damage to farmers, farm workers, residents and the overall economy of our state,” said Michael Boccadoro, a spokesperson for the Coalition. “Farmers are facing the loss of crops and fallowed fields. Additionally, tens of thousands of farm workers have lost their jobs because federal agencies have not done what they are required to do. People are suffering because federal agencies are not doing their job and addressing the real issues.”

The lawsuit focuses on the failure of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to use the best available scientific data when determining the effects of water operations and other activities on the threatened Delta smelt. The federal agencies continue to ignore scientific data that point to a growing list of other factors or “stressors” that are impacting the Bay-Delta and the native fish that live there. Federal regulators have done nothing to address predation by non-native bass, habitat destruction, expanding wastewater and storm water discharges or the growing level of pesticides and other contaminants released into the estuary.

Moreover, federal agencies are failing to consult with each other as required by law, and their actions are increasingly at odds with each other. At the same time they filed the lawsuit, the Coalition and KCWA also sent a notice of their intent to sue other federal agencies for failing to consult with USFWS when the agencies took actions that may adversely affect the delta smelt and other listed, native fishes in the Delta.

“The Delta smelt face wide ranging threats from contaminants to dredging activities. We have no choice but to sue the federal regulators to get them to address these other factors. Californians cannot afford to have our economy further destroyed because federal regulators continue to ignore the real causes of the Delta’s decline and fail to coordinate their activities,” said Adrienne J. Mathews, KCWA Board of Directors President.

The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta is an ad hoc group of water users who depend on conveyance through the delta for a large portion of their water supplies. The Coalition is dedicated to protecting the delta and is committed to promoting a strategy to ensure its sustainability.

The Kern County Water Agency was created in 1961 by a special act of the State Legislature and serves as the local contracting entity for the State Water Project. The Agency participates in a wide scope of management activities, including water quality, flood control and groundwater operations to preserve and enhance Kern County’s water supply–the main ingredient for a healthy economy.

           For more information including a copy of the lawsuit, visit the
                           Coalition's web site at:
                           www.sustainabledelta.com

    Coalition for a Sustainable Delta     Kern County Water Agency
    Contact:                              Contact:
    Michael Boccadoro                     Jeanne Varga
    (916) 441-7685                        (661) 549-4520
    (916) 600-4383

SOURCE Coalition for a Sustainable Delta


Source: newswire