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Friends of the Santa Clara River v. Castaic Lake Water Agency

ELR Citation: 34 ELR 20118
Nos. No. F043273, (Cal. App. 5th Dist., 09/22/2004)

A California appellate court reversed a lower court decision denying an environmental group's petition to challenge the urban water management plan for the Santa Clarita Valley. The plan provides that during dry periods, the water districts will take more water from groundwater deep below an aquifer, portions of which are contaminated with perchlorate. If perchlorate contamination impairs the water supply in dry years, the districts plan to restore full production capacity by treating the contaminated water. But the districts have no plan to cover the reduction while the treatment facilities are being built. Thus, the plan's description of the perchlorate contamination and the method for addressing that contamination is flawed because it fails to address the time needed to implement the available method for treating the contaminated water and it fails to describe the reliability of the groundwater supply during that implementation period. This gap is sufficient for reversal purposes, so the court did not address the group's other challenges to the plan.