Judge rejects lawsuit against water authority over Carlsbad emissions

US water conservation group, San Diego Coastkeeper, this week failed in its bid to sue the San Diego County Water Authority for alleged environmental negligence in its water supply projects. Coastkeeper claimed the authority made inadequate provision for the environmental impact of its water supply schemes including the giant Carlsbad project currently nearing completion.

A Superior Court judge rejected Coastkeeper’s lawsuit which the group filed last year to challenge to the water authority’s long-term water supply plan. Coastkeeper claimed the plan violated the California Environmental Quality Act.

The group’s attorney argued that the authority had not provided a true account of the energy demand of the Carlsbad plant and its carbon emissions saying there neede to be “honest accounting” of these data.

He repeated the argument in relation to a proposed desalination plant at Camp Pendleton – a project that was in the authority’s Regional Water Facilities Optimization and Master Plan Update that covers supply decisions to 2035.

The water authority’s attorney argued that it had followed the correct procedure in its plans. He argued that the authority was not required to report greenhouse gas emission for facilities over which it has no operational control. He said the environmental impact reports by Carlsbad’s developer, Poseidon Water, included “extensive accounting” of greenhouse emissions from the plant.

He said that while the Camp Pendleton proposal remained an option, there were no specific plans for a desalination plant at the site.

San Diego Superior Court judge Gregory Pollack ruled that “substantial evidence exists to support (the authority’s) actions.” He agreed that the Camp Pendleton project was one of a list of long-term options.

Mark Hattam, attorney for the water authority, said: “Coastkeeper has – without any proper legal basis and even though our area is facing a drought – been improperly attacking critical water supply choices the Authority has made.”

Attorney for Coastkeeper, Everett DeLano, said the judge’s decision allowed the water authority to “prioritize costly, environmentally-damaging water supply options over efficient sources like conservation and water recycling.”