Delta News

Another lawsuit filed to block water district’s Delta islands purchase

San Joaquin County and a group of Delta farmers allege that the pending Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s $175 million sale represents a breach of contract.
San Joaquin County and a group of Delta farmers allege that the pending Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s $175 million sale represents a breach of contract. The Sacramento Bee

Another legal challenge has been filed seeking to block the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s $175 million purchase of five islands in the heart of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This time, San Joaquin County and a group of Delta farmers allege that the pending sale represents a breach of contract.

Delta Wetlands Property, a subsidiary of Swiss financial services conglomerate Zurich Insurance Group, bought the islands 20 years ago with the aim of converting them into giant reservoirs that could store water in wet years and ship it to Southern California when supplies run low. Local governments and landowners sued over the plan. In 2013, they negotiated a series of settlements that restrict what can be done with the land.

The lawsuit filed Friday in Contra Costa Superior Court argues that Delta Wetlands signed a contract that requires future buyers to abide by the negotiated settlements.

Metropolitan spokesman Bob Muir said Wednesday that “those agreements are not relevant to the purchase of the property.” Metropolitan officials say they won’t be using the islands as reservoirs.

Friday’s filing came two weeks after a judge refused to grant a request for a preliminary injunction filed by environmental groups and two local counties that sought to halt the sale pending an environmental review.

Ryan Sabalow: 916-321-1264, @ryansabalow

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