California’s Battle of Water Rights
Auburn, Calif. – On August 17, 2017, the Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) filed suit in Placer County Superior Court challenging the California Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) approval of the California WaterFix (WaterFix) Environmental Impact Report.
The WaterFix proposes to add additional points of diversion for the State Water Project and Central Valley Project in the north Delta, on the Sacramento River, and convey water through two tunnels to destinations south of the Delta. By adding points of diversion in the north Delta, DWR and the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) will have the ability to move more stored water from north-of-Delta reservoirs to central and southern California, which could adversely affect water supplies in the American River watershed, including lower water levels in Folsom Reservoir.
PCWA delivers water to its wholesale partners, the City of Roseville and San Juan Water District, through diversion facilities at Folsom Dam. In addition, PCWA participates in the Sacramento Water Forum, which seeks to provide a reliable and safe water supply for the region’s long-term growth and economic health and preserve the fishery, wildlife, recreational, and aesthetic values of the lower American River. Should Folsom Reservoir operations change with WaterFix, regional water supplies and the environment of the American River Watershed would be at risk.
PCWA’s lawsuit reflects these ongoing concerns, which are shared by many Northern California stakeholders, as reflected in similar lawsuits filed by numerous water agencies throughout northern California. PCWA’s lawsuit seeks to ensure that DWR, and the USBR, fully disclose, analyze, and mitigate the impacts to the American River Watershed associated with WaterFix.
“Throughout the environmental review process, PCWA repeatedly raised these concerns to DWR, but DWR failed to meaningfully address PCWA’s comments,” reads the lawsuit. “DWR’s refusal to address the real and significant threats to PCWA’s continued use of its water supply…demonstrated a disregard for its obligations under the CEQA, and for PCWA’s legitimate interests, including the health and well-being of the 250,000 residents of Placer County and the health of the American River watershed.”