Water Board Ignores Complaints of Bad Behavior

The State Water Resources Control Board issued a ruling today stating that despite strong opposition to how the hearings have been conducted, they are going ahead with the hearings on Thursday without any changes.

As we reported initially, Save the California Delta Alliance moved for a continuance of the Water Board Permit hearing for the Delta Tunnels while the hearing officers address alleged ex-parte communications between the Water Board Hearing Team and the Department of Water Resources (DWR). We weren’t alone. Numerous other entities (Counties, Cities, environmental organizations and others) saw what had admittedly been going on between the Water Board and the DWR and also cried “foul.” (See entire list of groups opposed below).

What was the Water Board’s reasoning? The Water Board claims that the communications between State Water Board staff and DWR staff either concerned non-controversial, procedural issues or were properly limited in scope to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) consultation. They claim that those communications did not violate the law prohibiting ex parte contacts.

Hold it. Has the DWR produced those missing meeting documents? Remember, STCDA was told that all minutes and materials that were passed around and discussed in those meetings was gathered up by the DWR Staff. A Public Records Act (PRA) request was made to obtain those minutes and materials. Those haven’t been produced. So how can they say they know the meetings were on the up-and-up when the minutes and materials are still being hidden? Well, they do admit this much: “Finally, the possibility that grounds for a stay or other procedural steps could be found in responses to pending Public Records Act (PRA) requests does not justify granting a stay now.” Hmm. Why not first show us the data before starting the hearings back up?

They just delayed the hearings a few weeks to give them time to produce a long, long (98-page) document in order to try to make unacceptable behavior look acceptable.

California WaterFix Ruling.

Groups Opposed to the Hearings Continuing:
1 Save the California Delta Alliance, joined by South Delta Water Agency and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA).

2 The joining parties are: the CSPA, CWIN, and AquAlliance; County of Yolo; Contra Costa County, Contra Costa County Water Agency, and Solano County; South Delta Water Agency, Central Delta Water Agency, Lafayette Ranch, Heritage Lands, Mark Bachetti Farms and Rudy Mussi Investments L.P.; Carter Mutual Water Company, El Dorado Irrigation District, El Dorado Water & Power Authority, Howald Farms, Inc., Maxwell Irrigation District, Natomas Central Mutual Water Company, Meridian Farms Water Company, Oji Brothers Farm, Inc., Oji Family Partnership, Pelger Mutual Water Company, Pleasant-Grove Verona Mutual Water Co., Princeton-Codora-Glenn Irrigation District, Provident Irrigation District, Reclamation District 108, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Henry D. Richter, et al., River Garden Farms Company, South Sutter Water District, Sutter Extension Water District, Sutter Mutual Water Company, Tisdale Irrigation and Drainage Company, Windswept Land and Livestock Company, North Delta Water Agency, Reclamation District 999, Reclamation District 2060, Reclamation District 2068, Brannan-Andrus Levee Maintenance District, Reclamation District 407, Reclamation District 2067, Reclamation District 317, Reclamation District 551, Reclamation District 563, Reclamation District 150, Reclamation District 2098, Reclamation District 800 (Byron Tract), and Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority and its member districts; Friends of the River and Sierra Club California; Pacific Coast Federation of Fisheries’ Associations and Institute for Fisheries Resources; and Ms. Des Jardins.

3 Deirdre Des Jardins with California Water Research joined the motion in part; Restore the Delta, the CSPA, California Water Impact Network (CWIN), AquAlliance, Friends of the River, and Sierra Club California joined Ms. Des Jardins’ motion for partial conversion.

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