San Joaquin Record

August 31, 2002

Attorneys for a water-storage proposal that involves transforming two Delta islands into reservoirs filed their first brief Friday to support their lawsuit against San Joaquin County.

The Delta Wetlands Project aims to hold up to 7.2 billion gallons of water in Bacon Island and Webb Tract. Bouldin Island and Holland Tract would be turned into wetland habitat.

In May, county supervisors passed a law that requires such water-storage projects to get a final permit from the county. Before that law, the county had no direct say in whether the project was built on the islands, two of which are in Contra Costa County.

Delta Wetlands Project attorney Steve Herum said Friday that a December trial date has been set and that the project should not be delayed because of the lawsuit.

The South Delta and Central Delta water agencies have opposed the project for several reasons, including fears that the water will seep into adjacent cropland and also imperil the Delta’s levee system.

Other opponents include Sen. Michael Machado, D-Linden.
The brief filed Friday states that the county doesn’t have the authority to pass a permitting law for the project.

The county also is unfairly targeting the Delta Wetlands Project, according to the brief.

Opponents of the project say state regulators assumed in some of their decisions that the county had a permitting process that would ensure some sort of local review.

If houses instead of reservoirs had been built on the island, the county would have had to approve that, they argue.