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Delta Watch

Legal

The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta works with government regulators and Delta stakeholders to encourage responsible management with the Delta ecosystem and its resources. Where necessary, the Coalition engages in legal action to help protect the Delta and its resources.  Please see below for more information on legal action that the Coalition has been engaged in.

FEMA NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM
The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta settled a lawsuit in federal district court against the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for violating the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) through its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which encourages development of flood plain habitats that may affect listed species without consulting with federal wildlife agencies.

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STRIPED BASS
The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta has settled a lawsuit in federal district court against the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) for violating the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) through its enforcement of State sport fishing regulations that protect the non-native striped bass at the expense of several native endangered and threatened species, including the delta smelt. The lawsuit resulted in the DFG presenting a recommendation to the California Fish and Game Commission to properly adjust fishing regulations to  responsibly manage striped bass populations, a decision which partisan factions in the Commission misguidedly declined to approve.

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SAN JOAQUIN-STOCKTON WATER QUALITY VIOLATIONS
The Coalition has filed a lawsuit against the City of Stockton and San Joaquin County for discharging toxic chemicals and other pollutants into the Delta. The legal action, under the federal Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act, targets the municipal storm sewer system operated by the City and County, which has discharged pollutants in violation of applicable permits limits resulting in degraded water quality in the Delta and adverse impacts on fish species that reside in the Delta, including delta smelt and salmon.

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BIOLOGICAL OPINIONS
The Coalition has joined other water users in filing lawsuits against federal agencies challenging regulatory restrictions placed on the water pumping operations of the State Water Project and Central Valley Project. The severe water supply restrictions imposed under Biological Opinions issued under the Endangered Species Act are designed to protect the delta smelt and various species of salmon, which are federally protected species that reside in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The restrictions, which fail to comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act and are not based on the best available science, have greatly reduced water supplies for 25 million Californians and millions of acres of productive San Joaquin Valley farmland.

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MIRANT POWER PLANTS
The Coalition entered into a settlement agreement with Mirant Delta LLC related to its operation of two power plants in the Delta. These power plants utilize water from the Delta to condense steam used to rotate turbines that generate electricity; the process, known as once-through cooling, involves intake structures that can inadvertently harm fish when water is pumped into the plants. The settlement provides for increased monitoring of the aquatic impacts of power plant operations and a specified timeframe to complete consultation with the federal wildlife agencies regarding the impacts of power plant operations on endangered and threatened fish, including the delta smelt.

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