ESA abuse and the Santa Ana sucker: Water districts fight back
Author: Brandon Middleton
This commentary from Pat Milligan, the president of the San Bernardino Water District, appeared in yesterday's San Bernardino Sun. The commentary concerns the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's unlawfully broad designation of critical habitat for the Santa Ana sucker and the impacts the designation will have for water supply in the Inland Empire. Hence the need for a lawsuit against the Service.
Milligan writes that the current regulatory status of the sucker is the result of the Center for Biological Diversity's "attack to shut down the Inland Empire economy."
If the Service's ruling is allowed to stand, the Center's strategy will be completely successful. They will have created a water requirement for all new local projects, and simultaneously cut off the needed water supplies. No major Inland Empire building project could be permitted. Since ours is the only Southern California area able to absorb the region's growth, this ruling will make it impossible for the region's growing population to be housed or its construction workers to be employed. Beyond the economic pain this would inflict, the cost of our water supplies would soar. Local research indicates that the water would add $2.87 billion to Inland Empire water bills over the next 25 years and assuming we could find water at any price, given the cutoff due to the Delta smelt. Even the flawed analysis by Service indicated a cost range up to $1 billion.
Thanks to Aquafornia for the pointer.