The Mammoth Community Water District Board will not sit still for ORMAT geothermal to move ahead with expansion plans which the Board feels could jeopardize Mammoth’s very water supply. The Board has voted to sue the Air Pollution Control District which certified ORMAT’s EIR and EIS and to hire a public relations firm to handle the fight.
A press release was issued Friday confirming a unanimous vote of the Board to pursue a lawsuit against the APCD. ORMAT will also be listed as a real party of interest in the suit which will claim that the Casa Diablo IV project environmental documents are “inadequate and violate the California Environmental Quality Act in several respects.”
Among other claims, the Water District says “There was a failure to disclose critical documents concerning the hydrological connection between Mammoth’s groundwater and the geothermal zones.”
In addition, the Water Board also decided to retain Fiona-Hutton, a public relations firm, at a cost of roughly $125,000, to handle communications on the ORMAT issue. Vice President of the Water Board, Tom Cage, said that much like the conflict with LADWP, a PR firm has been hired “to make some clear and concise messages for local people and for political sources to get the word out. We believe this project poses a serious risk,” said Cage, “and we want to protect the water source our community relies on.”
Ted Schade, Great Basin’s Air Pollution Control Officer, stated, “I am amazed the the Mammoth Water District would spend $125,000 of its ratepayer’s hard-earned money on a public relations firm. This will be a hearing before a judge on the adequacy of the environmental impacts analysis. Who are they attempting to influence, with public relations, the judge?”
Schade also responded to the suit with a brief statement. He said, “Although the Great Basin Air Pollution Control District has been involved in many lawsuits, most of them against the City of Los Angeles, it has never lost in court. We anticipate the same result in any suit brought by the Mammoth Water District. It is unfortunate,” he said, “that the ratepayers in Mammoth will be required to pay for attorneys when the money could be used to develop additional water supplies or for groundwater monitoring.”
Charlene Wardlow of ORMAT said the company has no comment.
The MCWD press release follows:
(MCWD PRESS RELEASE)
The Mammoth Community Water District (MCWD) Board of Directors has unanimously voted to pursue a lawsuit against the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (Great Basin) following the certification of the Final Joint Environmental Impact Statement/ Environmental Impact Report (FEIS/EIR) for the controversial Casa Diablo IV Geothermal Development Project (Casa Diablo IV). The project’s proponent, Ormat Technologies, Inc., will be listed as a real party of interest in the lawsuit, which will assert that the FEIS/EIR for Casa Diablo IV is inadequate and violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in several respects.
“Our Board’s decision to pursue a lawsuit against Great Basin and Ormat is in line with our top priority: the protection of our local water supply,” said Patrick Hayes, MCWD’s general manager. “Unfortunately, the environmental document certified by Great Basin for Casa Diablo IV was blatantly inadequate in its consideration of the project’s potential negative impacts on our water supply, an error that we cannot overlook, particularly during a record statewide drought.”
MCWD has determined that the FEIS/EIR is inadequate on numerous accounts, including:
· The FEIS/EIR conclusion that there will be no adverse impacts to Mammoth’s groundwater resources is lacking any credible scientific support;
· There was a lack of transparency evident throughout the FEIS/FEIR process; and
· There was a failure to disclose critical documents concerning the hydrological connection between Mammoth’s groundwater and the geothermal zones.
MCWD plans to file the lawsuit against Great Basin in the weeks ahead.