Sacramento County Superior Court Rules in Favor of the State Water Board’s Substitute Environmental Document for Phase I of the San Francisco Bay-Delta Plan

May 2024

California Water Law & Policy Reporter, Volume 33, Number 8

On March 15, 2024, a Sacramento Superior Court judge upheld the State Water Resources Control Board’s (State Water Board) Substitute Environmental Document (SED) for the Phase I update to the Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary (Bay-Delta Plan). The SED adopts more stringent flow objectives for native and migratory fish in the lower San Joaquin River and its three major tributaries, the Merced, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne rivers, while partially relaxing salinity standards for South Delta crops. In a comprehensive 160-page ruling, the court considered all 116 claims filed by various petitioners and found the State Water Board did not violate the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act (Porter-Cologne Act), the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the public trust doctrine, or article X, section 2 of the California Constitution. (Super. Ct. Sacramento County, 2024, No. JCCP5013 (Ruling).)

Subscribers to the California Water Law & Policy Reporter, the California Land Use Law & Policy Reporter, the Environmental, Energy, and Climate Change Law & Policy Reporter, or the Western Water Law & Policy Reporter can read the full legislative update here.