Category: Water Quality

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Discretionary Reductions in Water Deliveries Allowed Under Terms of Existing Leases are not a New CEQA Project

In County of Mono v. City of Los Angeles (2022) 81 Cal.App.5th 657, the First District Court of Appeal held that a reduction in water deliveries by the City of Los Angeles (City) to lessees in Mono County (County) was not a new CEQA project, but was within the scope of existing leases. In 2010, the … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Makes Clear That Lead Agencies and Responsible Agencies Alike Must Make Findings Under CEQA

On May 11, 2022, the Third District Court of Appeal published its opinion in We Advocate Through Environmental Review v. City of Mount Shasta (2022) 78 Cal.App.5th 629, reversing the decision below and ordering the trial court to grant a petition for writ of mandate, specifying actions under CEQA that the City of Mt. Shasta … Continue Reading

Another CEQA Victory for Conservation Groups in Tahoe, another GHG Mitigation Measure Held Inadequate

In League to Save Lake Tahoe Mt. Area Pres. Found. v. County of Placer (2022) 75 Cal.App.5th 63, the Third District Court of Appeal held that a land use specific plan and rezoning permit for commercial and residential development, including workforce housing, of forest land in the Martis Valley near the Northstar California Ski Resort … Continue Reading

Impact Analysis and Mitigation May Be Located in Initial Study Appended to EIR; City Entitled to Deference on Interpretation of Its Municipal Code

In Ocean Street Extension Neighborhood Assn. v. City of Santa Cruz (2021) 73 Cal.App.5th 985, the Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s determination that the City of Santa Cruz (City) had complied with CEQA in approving a 32-unit residential project (Project) and overturned the trial court’s ruling that the City had violated … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Finds that Distribution of Drinking Water Containing MCL-Compliant Levels of Hexavalent Chromium Gives Rise to RCRA Liability in Decision that Upends Law of the Circuit

The Ninth Circuit recently issued a decision in Cal. River Watch v. City of Vacaville (Case No. 20-16605) (“Vacaville”) regarding the breadth of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) liability for contributing to the transportation of a solid waste, which may present an “imminent and substantial endangerment” to health or the environment. (42 U.S.C. § … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Grants Review of Third District’s Preemption Decision

On December 11, 2019, the California Supreme Court granted review of the Third District’s decision in County of Butte v. Department of Water Resources, dismissing a CEQA challenge to DWR’s relicensing application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the Oroville Dam on the basis that the claim was preempted by federal law. The … Continue Reading

Judge Finds that Water Boards Have Authority to Regulate Discharges of Dredge and Fill Material as Waste Under Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act

On February 18, 2021, the First Appellate District issued an opinion in Sweeney et al. v. California Regional Water Quality Control Bd., San Francisco Bay Region et al. (Case No. A153583) (“Sweeney”).  The opinion is much anticipated given its relevance to the continued validity of the State Water Resources Control Board’s recently adopted State Procedures … Continue Reading

Judge Suspends State Procedures as Applied to Majority of Waters of the State; Retains Application to Waters Subject to the Clean Water Act and All Ocean Waters Regardless of Jurisdiction

On December 17, 2020, the Sacramento County Superior Court substantially limited the scope of waters to which the State Procedures for Discharges of Dredged and Fill Material (“Procedures”) apply through its decision in San Joaquin Tributaries Authority v. State Water Resources Control Board (Case No. 34-2019-80003133).  According to the Court, the State Water Resources Control … Continue Reading

First Appellate District Approves Responsible Agency’s Imposition of Mitigation Not Considered in the EIR

In an opinion filed on December 29, 2020, the First Appellate District in Santa Clara Valley Water District v. San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board upheld a Responsible Agency’s imposition of additional mitigation more than a year after it had issued an initial approval for the project.  Although the court was careful to … Continue Reading

Maacama Watershed Alliance v. County of Sonoma (2019) Cal.App.5th 1007

Maacama Watershed Alliance v. County of Sonoma (2019) Cal.App.5th 1007 In 2015, Knight Bridge Vineyards LLC sought approval from the County of Sonoma to develop a two-story, 5,500 square foot winery, a 17,500 square foot wine cave, tasting room, wastewater treatment and water storage facility, fire protection facility, and mechanical area on an 86-acre parcel … Continue Reading

Public Trust Doctrine Applies to Groundwater, Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Exists Concurrently with Common Law and Did Not “Occupy the Field”

In Environmental Law Foundation v. State Water Resources Control Board (2018) 26 Cal.App.5th 844, the Third District Court of Appeal held that the public trust doctrine applies to groundwater basin management where groundwater may effect “navigable waters” and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), Water Code section 10720 et seq., did not change this. The … Continue Reading

FOURTH APPELLATE DISTRICT REJECTS CHALLENGE TO MITIGATED NEGATIVE DECLARATION FOR A RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT PROJECT

In an unpublished decision, Save Desert Rose v. City of Encinitas, 2015 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 7685, the Fourth Appellate District reversed the judgment of the trial court and held Save Desert Rose (Petitioner) failed to demonstrate that substantial evidence supported a fair argument that a proposed 16 single-family home subdivision project (Project) may have … Continue Reading

Two Wins for the Railyards Development in Third District Court of Appeal

This month, the Third District Court of Appeal issued two unpublished opinions on pending CEQA suits challenging the Railyards development in Sacramento. Both opinions affirm the decisions of the trial court and conclude that the City of Sacramento complied with CEQA when it adopted the Railyards Specific Plan and the Railyards Redevelopment Plan. In Sacramento … Continue Reading

Second District Court of Appeal Upholds EIR for Development Along Santa Clara River

In an unpublished opinion in Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment v. City of Santa Clarita, 2014 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 8998, the California Second District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court and denied a petition for a writ of mandate challenging a 185-acre development (the Project) along the Santa Clara River … Continue Reading

Mining the Administrative Record for Answers: Appellate Court Reverses Trial Court for Ignoring Substantial Evidence and Making Improper De Novo Determinations on Quarry Project

In an unpublished decision, Citizens Advocating for Roblar Rural Community v. County of Sonoma, 2014 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 3393, the Court of Appeal for the First District reversed the trial court’s decision granting a petition for writ of mandate that challenged County certification of a final environmental impact report (EIR) and issuance of necessary … Continue Reading

Court Turns Tide in Favor of Desalination Plant – Holds Ample Substantial Evidence Supports the Project’s EIR

Almost four years after the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) certified an environmental impact report (EIR) and approved a five million gallon a day desalination plant project, the Court of Appeal, First District, in a published opinion (N. Coast Rivers Alliance v. Marin Mun. Water Dist. Bd. of Dirs. (2013) 2013 Cal.App.LEXIS 401), reversed the … Continue Reading

Sixth District Thirsty for a More Robust Alternatives Analysis

In Habitat v. City of Santa Cruz (Feb. 19, 2013) 2013 Cal.App.LEXIS 128, the Sixth District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court decision and ordered the City of Santa Cruz (City) to vacate its certification of the final EIR and approval of a project because the EIR failed to discuss any feasible project alternatives … Continue Reading

Court Finds CEQA Challenge Not Worth its Weight in Sand

In  Save Cuyama Valley v. County of Santa Barbara (Jan. 10, 2013) 2013 Cal.App.LEXIS 212, the Sixth District Court of Appeal issued a decision upholding the trial court’s denial of Save Cuyama Valley’s (Save Cuyama) petition for a writ of mandate against the County of Santa Barbara (County).  Save Cuyama contended that the Environmental Impact … Continue Reading

EIR Found Deficient With Regard to Water Supply Impacts and Deferred Butterfly Mitigation

In Preserve Wild Santee v. City of Santee (2012) 2012 Cal. App. LEXIS 1091, petitioners challenged the City of Santee’s (City) certification of a final environmental impact report (EIR) for a development project in the City, claiming the project violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in several ways.  The trial court found merit in … Continue Reading
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