Water Users Settle Lawsuits Over Delta Power Plants
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 17 /PRNewswire/ — The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta (Coalition), Kern County Water Agency, Mirant Delta LLC (Mirant Delta), and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) have agreed to settle a legal dispute surrounding operation of Mirant’s Contra Costa and Pittsburg power plants. The settlement provides for increased monitoring of the aquatic impacts of power plant operations and a specified timeframe to complete consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service regarding the impacts of power plant operations on endangered and threatened fish, including the delta smelt.
The Coalition and Kern County Water Agency previously filed notices of intent to sue Mirant Delta and the Corps alleging violations of the federal Endangered Species Act resulting from operation of the two power plants.
The plants utilize water from the Delta to condense steam used to rotate turbines that generate electricity. The process, known as once-through cooling, involves intake structures that can inadvertently harm fish when water is pumped into the plants.
“This settlement ensures that – through monitoring – impacts to at-risk, native fish such as the delta smelt can be fully understood and addressed,” said Michael Boccadoro, spokesperson for the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta. “More extensive monitoring coupled with a timeframe for completing consultation with Federal regulators will ensure protection of at-risk species and allow for continued operation of the power plants.”
This settlement is part of a broader effort the parties are involved in to improve conditions in the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta estuary. In addition, Kern County Water Agency, Mirant Delta, and the Corps are part of a collaborative process to develop the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which is intended to identify a set of water flow and habitat restoration actions to contribute to the recovery of endangered and sensitive species and their habitats in the estuary.
“The Kern County Water Agency is pleased that–through its participation in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and this settlement–Mirant is demonstrating its commitment to the same comprehensive effort to address ecosystem decline in the estuary that the Agency and the Coalition have embraced,” said Jim Beck, Kern County Water Agency General Manager.
Its actions related to the Mirant Delta power plants are part of a broader effort by the Coalition to address key “stressors” that impact the Delta, its habitat and fisheries. The Coalition is also targeting urban pesticide runoff, toxic municipal storm water and waste water discharges, illegal Delta water diversions, and predatory non-native fish species such as the striped and black (largemouth) bass.
For more information or to view a copy of the Settlement Agreement, visit www.sustainabledelta.com
The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta is an ad hoc group of water users who depend on 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.
Contact: Michael Boccadoro 916/600-4383 or 916/441-4383
SOURCE Coalition for a Sustainable Delta