Yuba County Water Agency Files Federal Lawsuit Challenging New BiOp on Yuba River

An earlier post on this blog reported that Yuba County Water Agency ("YCWA") had sent a 60-day notice of intent to sue to several federal agencies regarding their issuance and adoption of a biological opinion significantly affecting the future operations of Daguerre Point and Englebright Dams on the Yuba River. Today YCWA made good on its threat by filing suit in federal district court. The suit alleges there are numerous legal and scientific flaws in the recently issued BiOp and the process that developed it. YCWA named the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ("Corps") and NOAA Fisheries, formerly the National Marine Fisheries Service ("NMFS"), as the main defendants.

NMFS issued the challenged BiOp in February of 2012. In that BiOp, NMFS concluded that the proposed operations of Englebright and Daguerre Dams would jeopardize several ESA-listed fish species and adversely modify their critical habitat. Consequently, to comply with the Endangered Species Act ("ESA"), the BiOp imposed requirements known in ESA parlance as reasonable and prudent alternatives ("RPA"), ostensibly to offset the jeopardizing effects of the action. The RPA was extensive. YCWA has estimated that the cost of implementing the RPA could be as high as $1 billion.

The remedies sought by YCWA in the lawsuit include a declaration that the BiOp is illegal and an injunction prohibiting NMFS and the Corps from implementing the BiOp and its RPA. YCWA issued a press release explaining its reasons for filing this suit. That and other documents related to the lawsuit can be viewed by following these links:

Press Release

FAQ

Complaint

For additional information regarding this post, please contact Hanspeter Walter or the KMTG attorney with whom you normally consult.