Wild & Scenic Mokelumne Update

Foothill Conservancy News Article
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EBMUD will not appeal conservationists' court victory
News release from Foothill Conservancy, Friends of the River and California Sportfishing Protection Alliance
5/24/11
East Bay MUD will not appeal legal decision on its water plan

On Monday, April 11, 2011, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley ruled in favor of the Foothill Conservancy, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and Friends of the River in their lawsuit challenging the East Bay Municipal Utility District�s 2040 water plan. On May 24, the EBMUD board of directors voted unanimously to not appeal the court�s decision. The utility also announced plans to begin new meetings and hearings on its water plan very soon.

�We're very glad EBMUD chose not to appeal the court�s decision. We're also glad to hear they'll be holding more hearings in Amador and Calaveras this time around. In 2009, we had to beg them to hold foothill meetings, and when they did, the response was overwhelming in opposition to the proposed expansion of Pardee Reservoir.� said Katherine Evatt, Foothill Conservancy president. �We've never seen such a diverse group of local people, organizations, and governments so unified on a conservation issue.�

�Of course, we're not just looking for EBMUD to do a better EIR,� Evatt said. �But this time, they'll have to do a better analysis of alternatives to the Pardee expansion and not gloss over the serious damage a larger reservoir would cause to the Mokelumne River�s recreational, public safety and cultural resources. And now they know that people who love the Mokelumne are serious about protecting our river and we will fight for it.�

EBMUD�s proposed expansion of Pardee Reservoir would inundate nearly two miles of the Mokelumne River near Jackson, including a section known as the Middle Bar Run. The reach is significant for its many cultural and historical resources as well as its recreational uses. The historic Middle Bar Bridge that crosses the affected section of river is also a critical link for emergency response and evacuation.

�EBMUD has many other more effective and less costly water supply options than expanding Pardee Reservoir,� said Steve Evans, Conservation Director of Friends of the River. �Given the court decision, we believe the district should take a more serious look at ways to meet their water supply needs without harming the Mokelumne River,� he said.

In addition to identifying failures in EBMUD�s analysis of impacts to the Mokelumne River, the court found that the utility had failed to adequately analyze alternatives to the Pardee Expansion, especially the Los Vaqueros Reservoir expansion in Contra Costa County.

�Joining Contra Costa Water District in expanding Los Vaqueros Reservoir would ensure EBMUD's water supply reliability, eliminate any need to increase the size of Pardee Reservoir and preserve the marvelous Middle Bar Reach of the Mokelumne River," said CSPA's Executive Director Bill Jennings.

Evatt noted further, �We hope a fresh look at the true impacts and alternatives will lead EBMUD to do what we asked in 2009: Drop the Pardee expansion in favor of their other water options and work with us to protect the Mokelumne with National Wild and Scenic River designation instead.�

�We�d like to thank everyone in our community and in the state who stood up for the Mokelumne and got us to this point,� said Foothill Conservancy Executive Director Chris Wright. �Now we need to stand together and help EBMUD find other solutions for meeting its future water needs while we secure permanent protection for the river.�

For more information, contact Foothill Conservancy Executive Director Chris Wright at 209-295-4900, CSPA Executive Director Bill Jennings at 209-464-5067, Friends of the River Conservation Director Steve Evans at 916-442-3155 x 221, or Friends of the River Senior Policy Advocate Ron Stork at 916-442-3155 x 220.

THE FOOTHILL CONSERVANCY  |  35 Court Street, Suite 1   Jackson, CA 95642  |  209-223-3508