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Court Orders Review |of Water-Hauling Plan

(CN) - A water district's contract to haul water to a San Diego-area landfill should have undergone full environmental review, a California appeals court ruled.

Riverwatch opposed the contract that the Olivenhain Municipal Water District signed with landfill company Gregory Canyon Ltd. to haul in 244,000 gallons of water per day for dust control and compaction at a landfill site lacking local groundwater.

The environmental group filed a writ of mandate claiming that the water district signed the supply agreement before final approval of an environmental report detailing the extra noise, air pollution and ramifications on water supply of transporting 89 loads of water per day to the dump site.

The 4th District Court of Appeal reversed the San Diego County Superior Court's denial of the group's petition, ruling that hauling water to the landfill constitutes part of the whole project, which is clearly subject to review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Since the water district qualifies as the "responsible agency" under the law, its premature commitment to the 60-year water supply agreement "effectively preclude[s] any alternatives or mitigation."

Environmental impacts of the supply agreement "cannot reasonably be disputed," the opinion noted.

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