For Immediate Release
November 16, 2019
Melanie Mow Schumacher, Special Projects-Communications Manager
Phone: 831-475-8501 x153
Court Rules in Favor of Pure Water Soquel Project
Judge’s Ruling Denies Challenge of Project’s EIR
Soquel, CA (November 16, 2019) – On November 15th, Superior Court Judge Timothy J. Schmal in Santa Cruz County ruled in favor of the Soquel Creek Water District on all elements of a legal action brought against the District earlier this year. The legal action alleged insufficiencies in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Pure Water Soquel Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion Prevention Project. The District’s Board of Directors certified the EIR and approved the project on December 18, 2018.
Judge Schmal wrote a well-reasoned 17-page point-by-point decision which denied the petitioner’s requested writ of mandate (a court order to a government agency to correct the agency’s prior actions).
“We are very happy that we can continue to move forward in our efforts to protect our groundwater supply from seawater intrusion, providing a safe, reliable, drought resistant water supply for future generations.” said Dr. Tom LaHue, President of the District’s Board of Directors. "The judge’s decision clearly showed that our environmental impact report (EIR) was thorough, compliant with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and protective of the environment."
The lawsuit challenged the District’s certification of the EIR and approval of the project under CEQA on a number of points, some of which were procedural in nature – those being the District’s public noticing, the time limit for the EIR public comment period, and notifying of appropriate agencies. The judge notes that the District was in fact compliant in all those instances.
Among several others, the two primary challenges in the lawsuit centered on whether the District adequately analyzed the project alternative of water transfers-only, and whether the District provided meaningful analysis of impacts on water quality as a result of the project.
The court found that the District did in fact comply with the requirements of CEQA in conducting its alternatives analysis, including water transfers-only, and that there was adequate analysis of groundwater quality with conclusions on these issues supported by substantial evidence.
The judge found all other assertions made by the petitioner in the lawsuit similarly insufficient – in short, the judge ruled that the District’s EIR and the certification/adoption process were compliant with CEQA.
About Soquel Creek Water District
The Soquel Creek Water District is a nonprofit, local government agency that provides water resource management within its service area to deliver a safe and reliable supply of high-quality water to meet present and future needs in an environmentally sensitive and economically responsible way. The District’s website is www.soquelcreekwater.org.