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New legal battle over Yuba River
Citing potential economic impact and effects on water reliability and flood control improvements, the Yuba County Water Agency filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday to throw out a biological opinion that calls for removing Englebright and Daguerre Point dams.
If the National Marine Fisheries Service's opinion on how to restore endangered fish runs on the Yuba River proceeds, according to YCWA, Yuba County could lose tens of millions of dollars in revenue annually from water transfers and hydroelectric power.
"We've tried to proceed in collaborative fashion for a long time," said Water Agency General Manager Curt Aikens.
The agency has repeatedly requested changes and improvements in the opinion, he said, "but now we've run out of time without any real solid answers on how this will be addressed."
The 64-page lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Sacramento, asks the Fisheries Service to revise the opinion and also asks the US Army Corps of Engineers to stop any actions toward complying with it.
Chris Gray, a spokesman for the corps' Sacramento division, said agency policy is not to comment on pending litigation.
"We're still doing our best to work with everyone involved to find a solution on these issues," he said.
Jim Milbury, a spokesman for the Fisheries Service, said his agency was aware of the suit but had not reviewed it.
According to the suit, the Fisheries Service's biological opinion has a host of problems, including flawed science, failure to consider other environmental impacts from its recommendations and unreasonable deadlines for compliance.
Aikens said among the opinion's suggestions, requiring certain water flows for salmon runs, would make it difficult for the agency to have reliable supply to produce energy or sell for irrigation.
Proceeds from such operations, according to the agency, help meet a required local cost share of flood-control improvements such as the Marysville ring levee project.
"We think that we have very solid, factual reasons for seeking to overturn that opinion," said Roger Abe, a Yuba County supervisor and chairman of the agency's board of directors.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.