Coastkeeper Files Lawsuit Against San Diego County Water Authority

Watchdog organization says water agency violated the law when it failed to address environmental impacts in its water supply plan

SAN DIEGO, April 28, 2014 –San Diego Coastkeeper announced today that it filed a lawsuit against San Diego County Water Authority for failing to account for the environmental impacts of existing and future water supply sources in its recently approved water supply plan. Filed Friday in the Superior Court of the State of California, San Diego, Central Division, Coastkeeper’s legal action calls on the Water Authority to follow state law by recognizing and accounting for the energy it uses to move and treat the region’s water.

“We care about our water supply’s energy use because it produces greenhouse gas emissions, a primary driver of global climate change,” said Matt O’Malley, San Diego Coastkeeper’s Waterkeeper. “Water supply decisions based on this plan could jeopardize the health and economic viability of San Diego County by contributing to climate change impacts like sea level rise.”

Coastkeeper filed suit under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a state law that requires the agency to identify and address environmental impacts of its actions. The lawsuit holds the Water Authority accountable for failing to meet legal requirements addressing the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from its water supply plan.

The water supply plan, officially called the Regional Water Facilities Optimization and Master Plan Update, explores the region’s needs for and options to address water supply, and sets precedent for related decisions through 2035. On March 27, the Water Authority approved this plan and its accompanying Supplemental Program Environmental Impact Report and Climate Action Plan. Coastkeeper had been part of the planning process since early 2013 and repeatedly called on the Water Authority to prioritize and incentivize conservation—our region’s most readily available and cost-effective source of new water—and recycling and implement an appropriate greenhouse gas reduction plan The Water Authority declined to incorporate this public feedback.

“The Water Authority claims they approved only a couple minor amendments to their plans and operations and can therefore avoid any real scrutiny,” said Everett DeLano, the Escondido attorney representing San Diego Coastkeeper. “In reality, the plans they approved will pose profound negative impacts to San Diego’s environment and ratepayers for years to come.”

The Water Authority has 20 days from receiving service to set a settlement conference date.

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SAN DIEGO COASTKEEPER: Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects and restores fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County. Visit us online at