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Water Union Sues Over Pump Restrictions

FRESNO, Calif. (CN) - U.S. officials face another lawsuit accusing them of adopting water-pumping restrictions during California's third consecutive year of drought in a misguided effort to protect endangered delta smelt. A union of public water-supply agencies says the limitations were based on faulty scientific data.

The lawsuit, filed in Federal Court by State Water Contractors, advances some of the same claims as an action filed last week by the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and the Westlands Water District.

Both complaints challenge a 2008 biological opinion, or BiOp, issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and used to justify pumping restrictions on two major water projects. The BiOp concluded that the projects will "jeopardize" dwindling delta smelt populations.

State Water Contractors says the BiOp was not based on the best available science and it ignores crucial scientific data, including evidence that pumping has no significant long-term impact on smelt populations.

State Water Contractors represents 27 public water-supply agencies in the San Francisco Bay area, along the Central Coast, in the Central Valley and in Southern California.

Plaintiff counsel is Gregory Wilkinson with Best Best & Krieger LLP.

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