LOS ANGELES – The California Supreme Court has ruled that a Southern California water supplier can go ahead with the purchase of five Delta Islands, regardless of the opposition and lawsuit against it.
Metropolitan Water District (MWD) will go ahead with the $175 million sale of the Delta Islands as ruled by the Supreme Court. Since MWD initiated the sale, several injunctions have been placed against it stopping the purchase from going through. Several lawsuits have also been filed by San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties, Delta Island farmers and a series of environmental groups.
While MWD has maintained that is has no current plans for the islands, citizens and groups in both Northern and Southern California have voiced concerns that the area will be used for access to construct a tunnel that will carry water from the Sacramento River under the Delta to a pump station, eventually moving water south and in the process disturbing the balance of nature on the islands.
With both Northern and Southern California impacted by the proposed tunnel project, they came together for the lawsuit.
“We both have an interest in stopping the sale of the islands,” Brenna Norton, senior organizer at Food and Water Watch, told the Northern California Record. “We oppose it because it will hurt the members throughout California, particularly Southern California. Consumers that buy Metropolitan water are going to be environmentally and economically harmed by this proposal and the tunnel project.”
With the tunnel project expect to move water from the north to Southern cities in California, Norton said these citizens need to be concerned with what is happening with sale of the Delta Islands.
“People have to understand that Metropolitan doesn’t have the same interest as Southern California cities,” said Norton. “People have to remember that they have an interest in selling water. The more water they sell, the more money they make. They don’t have the same interest as the city they sell water to. Southern California cities need to be investing in proven water solutions that would fix their aging infrastructure and give them a safe water supply system.”
With the Supreme Court permitting sale and not putting an injunction order in place to stop the sale until all court proceedings have been completed is a blow to the plaintiffs in the lawsuits.
“After the court twice put in an injunction, it’s frustrating that the court didn’t extend that until the case is resolved,” said Norton. “Rather than stopping the sale, now they have the power to undo the sale later.”
While the injunctions were used to put the sale on hold, the real test will be the merits of the case that is yet to be tried that takes into account the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
“While the court didn’t extend a stay in accordance with the merits of the case, that shouldn’t be confused with the underlying matter of the actual lawsuit that’s yet to be read in court,” said Norton. “The actual merits of our case and CEQA are yet to be heard.”