Ag Today March 1, 2018

Sacramento County alleges secret meetings over Delta tunnels, files lawsuit

BY DALE KASLER, The Sacramento Bee

February 28, 2018 12:24 PM-Updated February 28, 2018 04:34 PM

Sacramento County is leading a lawsuit accusing state officials of holding illegal secret meetings about the controversial Delta tunnels project.

The county, joined by the city of Stockton, several Delta water agencies and a group of environmental organizations, sued the State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday. The suit claims officials with the state water board met privately and illegally as far back as 2015 with representatives of the California Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the lead agencies planning the tunnels.

In the suit, Sacramento County and the other plaintiffs said the secret meetings provide evidence of “deliberate obstruction, and possible collusion.” The meetings show that project opponents won’t “receive a fair hearing in this proceeding,” the suit says.

The lawsuit attempts to halt the water board’s months-long hearing on whether to allow DWR and Reclamation to divert water from the Sacramento River at the north end of the Delta – a critical element of the tunnels project.

The water board’s hearing officers, in a ruling issued in early February, acknowledged that discussions took place between the board’s staff and officials with DWR and Reclamation. But they refused to halt the hearing, declaring that those meetings “did not violate the law.”

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