Leading Water to the Horse: Practical Guidance for CEQA Water Supply Analysis in the Wake Of Vineyard Area Citizens


Gone are the days when nothing more than a divining rod was needed to locate water supplies for new development. The recent landmark decision in Vineyard Area Citizens for Responsible Growth v. City of Rancho Cordova (Vineyard Area Citizens), one of the California Supreme Court’s rare

forays into the realm of CEQA jurisprudence, potentially raises the bar regarding the requirements for analyzing water supplies. Although the decision clarifies many of the rules for preparing a water supply analysis under CEQA, it also creates a great deal of uncertainty for project proponents and agency planners as to whether a particular water supply analysis will meet the standards articulated

by the Court. Future litigation is inevitable and will result in additional clarification regarding the

application of thesestandards. Meanwhile, to minimize vulnerabilities to legal challenge, the water supply analysis in an EIR (or other CEQA document) should be carefully drafted keeping in mind the principles announced in Vineyard Area Citizens.

This article is intended to provide practical guidance in crafting the water supply analysis in an EIR, rather than an overview of the Court’s decision or the facts of the case. Readers interested in an extended summary with additional analysis of the Vineyard Area Citizens decision are referred to Morrison & Foerster’s earlier client alert regarding the case, available at http://www.mofo.com/news/updates/files/update02326.html.

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