The U. S. Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in San Francisco has dismissed the most significant challenge to the lining of the All-American Canal and has lifted the court-imposed injunction that halted construction last August. The ruling, issued April 6, allows the Imperial Irrigation District to commence work on the project and conserve water lost by seepage in the existing earthen canal.
“We are very pleased with the court’s ruling allowing the project to move forward,” said Water Authority Board Chair Fern Steiner. “The project has been on hold since last August, but we have equipment and materials on site and have made provisions with the project contractors to remobilize and resume construction within the next 60 days.”
The lining of the All-American Canal is a critical component of the Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement. The water that will flow to San Diego annually from this conservation project will play a vital role in ensuring a reliable water supply for the region for generations to come.
Construction for the All-American Canal Lining Project began in July 2006 after a federal district court dismissed lawsuits brought by several parties alleging environmental and water rights concerns. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court halted work in August 2006 when the court chose to review the case, hearing oral arguments in December 2006. Prior to Friday’s ruling, Congress passed legislation (HR 6111) in December 2006 calling for the implementation of the project “without delay,” and “notwithstanding any other provision of law.” The President signed the bill in December 2006. The Ninth Circuit Court lifted its stay on the project based on the federal legislation.
The two construction companies contracted to complete the project will each be issued a Notice to Proceed allowing them to mobilize their workers and equipment to restart work on the project. Environmental mitigation work that was also halted will restart, including restoration of vegetation, replacement of fishing opportunities on the canal, and other work to offset potential impacts to cultural resources.
“There is no question this is an important water-saving project that must be completed,” said Water Authority General Manager Maureen Stapleton. “The California water agencies that receive Colorado River water, the governor and the state Legislature, the Colorado River Basin states, the U.S. Congress and the president of the United States have all agreed that completing the All-American Canal Lining Project is in the public’s interest.”
The Imperial Irrigation District is managing the construction of the All-American Canal lining in cooperation with the Water Authority and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The project calls for approximately 23 miles of lined canal to be built next to the existing canal, saving 67,700 acre-feet per year. Of the conserved amount, 56,200 acre-feet will flow annually to the San Diego County Water Authority and the remaining 11,500 acre- feet will go to the San Luis Rey Indian Settlement Parties for the next 110 years.
Court ruling click here
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