Judge Refuses to Block Metropolitan Water District from $175 Million Purchase of Delta Land
CALIFORNIA - In an update to our article last month about the pending $175 million deal for the Metropolitan Water District to purchase land in Northern California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, it looks like despite serious opposition from Delta landowners and Northern California officials, a judge has denied a motion to block the plan.
The Delta is an estuary through which the State Water Project and the federal government’s Central Valley Project pump billions of gallons of water annually to the farmlands of the San Joaquin Valley and urban residents in Southern California by way of the Sacramento Valley.
Earlier this week, Judge Barbara Kronlund in San Joaquin Superior Court ruled that she would not yet block the eyebrow raising purchase of five islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, declining to grant a temporary restraining order to officials from San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties.
However, Judge Kronlund’s ruling does not end litigation against the purchase. A hearing is scheduled on May 19 for a preliminary injunction against the deal. According to the Sacramento Bee, because the Metropolitan Water District doesn’t plan to finalize a purchase until June, the May 19 hearing will be crucial in the final decision.
Metropolitan has previously stated that it may use the property to store tools that will be used for Governor Jerry Brown’s $15.5 billion Delta tunnels project, which seeks to re-engineer the Delta’s plumbing system by building a pair of underground tunnels. Metropolitan is a leading proponent of the tunnels, which are designed to improve the flow of water to the southern part of the state.
The opposition’s argument is mainly that Metropolitan shouldn’t be able to buy these five islands without undergoing a California Environmental Quality Act review, according to the Sacramento Bee. These reviews typically take months.
Metropolitan argues that this type of land purchase shouldn’t require a review, and assures it will comply with any and all environmental laws once it makes a formal plan on what the usage of the land will be.
As the continued battle over this land purchase continues, AndNowUKnow will give you the latest updates.