Description: Challenge to biological opinion issued for water diversion project in California.
Bay.org d/b/a The Bay Institute v. Zinke
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 06/29/2017 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Environmental Groups Said California Water Diversion Project Would Increase Water Temperatures and Harm Threatened Delta Smelt. A San Francisco-based conservation group, along with NRDC and Defenders of Wildlife, filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for the Northern District of California challenging a biological opinion prepared under the Endangered Species Act for the California WaterFix project. The proposed project involves construction of three new water intakes to divert water from the Sacramento River. The plaintiffs asserted that WaterFix was “the latest in a long line of water diversion projects and policies” that have had “devastating effects” on the threatened Delta Smelt, a small fish that lives only in San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The plaintiffs claimed that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s biological opinion’s conclusion that WaterFix would not jeopardize the survival and recovery of the Delta Smelt or cause adverse modification of its designated critical habitat was contrary to evidence in the record, including evidence that in combination with the likely effects of climate change, WaterFix was likely to result in increased water temperatures in the Delta that would decrease the size of Delta Smelt and increase mortality rates.