City of Fresno Joins Lawsuit Challenging Water Supply Allocations, Federal Biological Opinion

As a result of recent water allocation reductions which have severely impacted the City of Fresno and the region, the City today joined in a federal lawsuit challenging the state and federal water allocations that impact the San Joaquin Valley.

The City joins a number of water user groups, including farmers and water districts throughout the region, in challenging the water allocations. The lawsuits also challenge the underlying rationale supporting the allocations such as the recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s biological opinion.

The federal cases are known as the Delta Smelt cases in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of California.

The City’s declaration states that as a result of the constraints of water deliveries into the Fresno area, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s biological opinion, all water users are relying more heavily on local groundwater.

“This is causing unusual declines in groundwater levels throughout the Fresno region,” according to the City’s declaration. “Declines in groundwater levels increase the cost to pump water, the costs of which must eventually be recouped from City rate payers. Continued over-reliance on local groundwater supplies will eventually lead to conflicts between water users and foster unnecessary and expensive litigation over water rights.”

Mayor Swearengin and Fresno City Council in June directed the City Attorney to join in the lawsuit.