OAKLAND— A Sacramento judge has upheld an East Bay water agency’s three-decade battle to draw extra water from Delta tributaries.
Leaders of the East Bay Municipal Utility District called the ruling — which favors the district’s intention to access water from the Sacramento River — a significant step forward because it appears to end a pair of lawsuits filed by coalitions of state and federal water contractors.
Thursday’s ruling by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Lloyd G. Connelly does not clear the way for the $690 million project. But EBMUD board president Katy Foulkes said it does validate the district’s water contract, which other groups challenged out of fear their own water supplies would be compromised.
The district, which draws its water from the Sierra Nevada, wants to share access to the river’s water with the city and county of Sacramento and use its share for drought protection. Sacramento would use it for new houses and industry.
The 85 agencies which currently take water from the Delta provide drinking water to more than 20 million Californians and irrigate more than 7 million acres of farmland. They say taking clean water just upstream of the Delta will increase the salt content and worsen the water quality for those downriver. Delta water agencies issued a statement soon after the ruling calling for EBMUD to negotiate “a less destructive solution to its drought-supply needs.”
EBMUD says the project is unlikely to affect other water users. The district relies on a pair of reservoirs on the Mokelumne River, and has tried to supplement its supply since 1970.