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Delta tunnel system? Justices give district partial victory

Water concerns are flatly huge and always on the minds of Californians, likely in a way unexperienced by residents of any other state.

That is partially attributable, of course, to the state being the most heavily populated in the country. It owes, too, to California's distinct topography and the logistical hurdles involved in moving water across the state. Additionally, much of the world depends on critically important exports of California agricultural products.

There is always an ongoing and passionate debate ongoing in the state regarding water concerns, which is amply underscored by a recent Los Angeles Times article focused upon a judicial ruling allowing a metro water district to purchase several delta islands.

The Times notes that hose islands -- five of them - are "at the epicenter of the delta's water system." They are currently privately owned and located in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Importantly, they are directly in the path of a proposed tunnel initiative that, if completed, would help transport water beneath the delta and on it way south, for use by residents and businesses in Southern California.

The court ruling -- issued just last week by the California Supreme Court -- approves the islands' purchase by Southern California's Metropolitan Water District. Although that entity takes pains to inform the public that it has not developed a final scheme regarding delta use (of approximately 20,000 acres), the MWD is on record for its support of delta tunnels.

Unsurprisingly, that has made it a target for critics. The Times states that, although the high court decision removes any further impediments to the sale of the islands, it does not eliminate existing litigation against the MWD relating to its purchase.

One lawsuit, for example, demands that the district must prepare an environmental impact report relating to the purchase. It has not sought to do that. Another filing was authored by local government officials to block the purchase. The Times notes that last week's ruling only enables the MWD to go ahead with its purchase, while still allowing other existing suits to "play themselves out."

That could take years.

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