Stanislaus supervisors to discuss possible groundwater lawsuit in closed session

kcarlson@modbee.comJanuary 26, 2014 

  • STANISLAUS SUPERVISORS WATCH

    Stanislaus County supervisors will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the basement chamber of Tenth Street Place, at 1010 10th St., Modesto. The following items will be considered:

    •  Setting a public hearing for Feb. 11 on changes to the historical district zoning rules for Knights Ferry.

    •  Appointing an associate director of public health at an annual salary of $130,220.

    •  Receiving a report on county treasury investments.

Facing a potential lawsuit over groundwater, Stanislaus County supervisors will do most of their talking behind closed doors at their meeting Tuesday.

Supervisors are scheduled for a closed session on the threat of a lawsuit from Protect Our Water and Environmental Resources. Earlier this month, attorneys representing the group demanded the county stop issuing well-drilling permits without first requiring environmental impact studies. Their letter suggested that the county revoke permits for more than 60 large irrigation wells approved in the past five months.

The group expressed concern that new wells may cause serious overdrafting and result in dry wells for other landowners, among other problems.

No lawsuit had been filed as of Friday, said retired attorney Jerry Cadagan of Sonora. Also representing Protect Our Water is San Francisco Attorney Thomas Lippe.

Cadagan said the county has not responded to the letter, sent about two weeks ago. “We want to open a dialogue,” he said.

During the closed session Tuesday, supervisors also will talk with legal counsel about a 2012 lawsuit brought by Signature Development over a storm drainage project in Keyes and discuss labor talks with the Stanislaus Sworn Deputies Association.

Friday was the deadline for applicants wishing to serve on the Water Advisory Committee, which will develop policies to govern the use of groundwater in Stanislaus County. Officials said 43 applications were received by 4 p.m. Friday, but that didn’t include others that may arrive in envelopes postmarked Friday.

Keith Boggs, a county assistant executive officer, said the applications will be given to county supervisors, who will make most of the appointments to the 21-member committee. People could be named to the panel at the Feb. 4 board meeting.

The committee will have 19 voting members. County Board Chairman Jim DeMartini and newly hired water resources manager Walter Ward will serve on the committee but won’t have votes.

Boggs said the committee meetings will be open to the public. The panel will consider the need for groundwater policies, based on science and data, he said.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.

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