A coalition of conservation groups is working to prevent the development of a dam in the Del Puerto Canyon. The proposed Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir would reportedly store more than 80,000 acre-feet of water. The Sierra Club, California Native Plant Society, Center for Biological Diversity, and Friends of the River have sued the Del Puerto Water District (DPWD) for approving the project. In a lawsuit filed on November 20, the plaintiffs assert that the project would negatively impact the habitat of several species.
“The district’s plan to destroy this precious local landscape, and further strain the seriously imperiled Delta ecosystem, is sad and unfortunate,” Sean Wirth of the Sierra Club said in a press release. “This project would erase an important part of the area’s history and access to nearby nature, while also putting the residents of Patterson at risk should the dam fail.”
The proposed Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir would create more storage for water to be made available to agriculture. Water from the Delta-Mendota Canal would be pumped through the Central Valley Project and held for later use. DPWD and its project partners would have the ability to increase the amount of Delta water received under existing contracts. Project partners notes that water would be used for irrigation, groundwater recharge, and to provide benefits to wildlife.
“Sucking more water from the Delta is not the solution to California’s water supply challenges,” said senior policy advocate for Friends of the River, Ron Stork. “This reservoir will only fuel increased demand among the agricultural interests of the San Joaquin Valley, worsening dependence on the already strained Delta.”
The lawsuit was filed in Stanislaus County Superior Court. Plaintiff’s claim that DPWD did not adequately consider the California Environmental Quality Act in its assessment. The group says that the increased water storage would negatively impact 800 acres of habitat. Prior to the lawsuit to stop the project, construction was expected to begin in 2022 and require six years to complete.