A planning document intended to resolve decades of water conflict in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was instead greeted by a flood of lawsuits on Monday.
At least seven lawsuits were filed in three counties against what is known as the Delta Plan. The plan, which lays out a long-term strategy for developing and managing the sensitive estuary, is required by 2009 state legislation. That law also created the Delta Stewardship Council, a seven-member appointed commission charged with crafting the vision.
The lawsuits came from virtually all points of the political spectrum in California's unceasing water wars, including environmental groups, commercial fishermen, water diverters and local governments.
Richard Frank, a professor of environmental law at UC Davis, said the lawsuits appeared to mark a new front in the battle over the Delta, the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas. A period of relative quiet that prevailed after the 2009 package of water bills was approved appears to be over.
"There was a short truce and now we seem to be back into litigation mode, although with a different and new target," Frank said.
"I think, in part, it's unavoidable," he said. "The Delta is really the perfect storm of virtually every environmental issue and environmental controversy you could imagine in California."
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