Federal Judge Orders U.S. Fish and Wildlife to take a “hard look” at its proposed water delivery reductions
A federal district judge in the Eastern District of California has ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not to implement its plan to reduce water deliveries from the Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project. The Consolidated Delta Smelt Cases. The Fish and Wildlife Service had determined that water deliveries should be curtailed in order to protect a threated fish species, the delta smelt. Judge Wanger, however, issued a preliminary injunction enjoining implementation of the delta smelt Biological Opinion prohibiting the water deliveries because the agency did not do an environmental analysis required under the National Environmental Protection Act. NEPA requires that the federal government take a “hard look” at the effect of its actions on the environment, including the human environment, prior to acting. In issuing the order, Wanger stated: “The agencies still ‘don’t get it.’ They continue to believe their ‘right to be mistaken’ excuses precise and competent scientific analysis for actions they know will wreak havoc on California's water supply.”
Under the agency’s original plan, Fish and Wildlife had planned to reduce water deliveries to water users that were predicted to have serious, adverse impacts on the long-term water supply reliability for both domestic and agricultural users. Other adverse impacts to groundwater recharge programs, with resulting direct environmental impacts to groundwater levels, groundwater quality, and energy use were also anticipated.
Please see full Order below for more information.
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