The research phase of a proposal to divert water from the Sacramento River through the Delta might cost a little more and take a little longer than the Department of Water Resources had planned.
DWR has been granted access to 150 Delta-area properties to conduct the research. The property owners want to be compensated for that access. The State Supreme Court has ruled the department must prove to a lower court why it should not pay for the access.
Tom Keeling is an attorney for the land owners. He says DWR tried to get around paying for land use by calling their Peripheral Canal research short-term, non-invasive “entries.”
“They’re not mere entries,” said Keeling. “If I were coming onto your property for a couple of days to take a few surveys, and maybe make a hand auger and get a little boring, that’s one thing. That’s maybe just an entry. We wouldn’t have a case and we wouldn’t be having this interview right now. But, if I want a one-year blanket easement across your property, you’re gonna say, ’Wait a minute, Tom, that’s not just an entry. That’s an easement.’”
The properties in question are in Sacramento, San Joaquin, Yolo, Contra Costa and Solano counties. A court date has not yet been set for DWR to make its case.