Central Valley farmer sues state over dredging

February 26, 2008 5:42am

•  Says lack of dredging creates flood hazard

•  ‘Irresponsible, incompetent, unreasonable, inexcusable’

Dino Cortopassi, whose company farms on an islad in the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta, is suing the state for not adequately dredging its waterways.

He says years of sediment accumulation has made the channels too shallow to handle water runoff, posing the threat of flooding.

The suit, filed Monday in San Joaquin County Superior Court, seeks an order forcing the Department of Water Resources to scoop out the sediment from channel beds.

Failure to dredge North Delta channels "is irresponsible, incompetent, unreasonable, inexcusable, and demands immediate remediation," the lawsuit asserts.

Cortopassi Partners owns Canal Ranch on the Mokelumne River near Walnut Grove. Reclamation District 2086 has joined the suit.

The lawsuit contends that the state's failure to dredge Delta channels violates its explicit duty to the public trust. It says that since the mid-1970s, state agencies have manipulated Delta water flows in a manner causing channels and sloughs to accumulate soil sediments, which has reduced their runoff-water carrying capacity. With sediment accumulations now reaching five to eight feet in some areas, the result has been increased North Delta flood risk, the lawsuit says.

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