Breaking News: WaterFix Hearings Rigged


lady-justice Breaking News: STCDA alleges that the Water Board Hearings on the WaterFix were rigged. These Hearings decide if the DWR gets their permit to start building the “WaterFix” Delta Tunnels.

What did these State agencies do wrong? STCDA alleges that ex-parte (illegal) meetings were conducted, in secret, between the Water Board and the Department of Water Resources (DWR). The Water Board is like the “judge” in these Hearings whereas the DWR is requesting the permit, i.e., the “plaintiff.” However, the two groups held 9 meetings over 13 months where they were collaborating about the Hearing. This is like the Judge and the plaintiff’s council colluding while a trial was underway. Ex-parte communications are illegal and mean that the entire Hearing is tainted.

Tell me more. During these secret meetings, the Water Board gave guidance to the DWR on what modeling and other evidence the DWR should prepare and present to back their claims at the Hearings; i.e., what information would be allowed or not allowed into the record during the actual hearings.

This was all kept secret? Mr. Brodsky states that he was recently informed by Nichole Kuenzi, the attorney for the Water Board, that “at the conclusion of each of the in-person meetings DWR personnel swept up all of the materials and took them back to DWR headquarters. Ms. Kuenzi informed us that DWR personnel were scrupulous about collecting all of the materials and not allowing Hearing Team members or other non-DWR personnel to retain any of the materials. To any neutral observer it is hard to find any explanation for this behavior other than a conscious attempt to cover up wrongdoing by hoarding evidence where it cannot be easily found.”

Wow! What does the DWR admit their wrong-doing? Mr. Brodsky made the PRA request last week for those meeting materials to be presented. So far the DWR has been strangely silent…

What does it mean? Since the entire hearing may have been compromised, all of the modeling and flow information is suspect and defendants like STCDA and others who participated in these Hearings arguing against the tunnels were not given due process. “No one can believe we got a fair shake,” says Brodsky. “The entire Hearing has been tainted.”

What is STCDA recommending? STCDA requests a 90-day continuance to the start of Part II of the Hearings (scheduled Thursday January 18); disqualifying the current hearing team members and appointing an impartial administrative law judge to re-hear all those objections; removing the DWR’s delta flow criteria from the Water Board’s evidentiary hearing and including it instead with the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan update; or dismissing the DWR’s of the petition for the Permit to be resubmitted later.

Anything else? Numerous other counties, water agencies and environmental groups, are expected to file additional joiners, given these findings made by Mr. Brodsky.

The full text of theSTCDA “MOTION TO CONTINUE HEARINGS FOR 90 DAYS” is here.

See also: <a href="" Kos article by Dan Bacher, “Delta Tunnels Opponents File Motion to Stay California WaterFix Hearing”.

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