W.A.T.E.R. & Winnemem Wintu Tribe Challenge Mt. Shasta City's Crystal Geyser Sewer Permit in Opening Brief
W.A.T.E.R. (We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review) and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe (Tribe) continued the legal challenge to the proposed Crystal Geyser (CG) Water Bottling Plant Project (Project) at the base of Mount Shasta and filed an Opening Brief in Superior Court on March 29, 2019 challenging the City of Mount Shasta’s (City) approval of an Industrial Waste Discharge Permit (IWDP) for the proposed CG plant. This action broadens the community’s effort to protect the drinking water supply of local residents and the City of Mount Shasta and prevent harm to cultural resources important and sacred to the Tribe.
CG's water extraction business and plant is located on the southern slope of Mount Shasta, renowned for its magnificent vistas and fragile ecosystems. CG's business of extracting unlimited groundwater will create harmful environmental effects for the aquifer and the Sacramento River, a major water source for all California. Its huge bottling facility is adjacent to a small peaceful, residential neighborhood and upslope from pristine natural springs known to be significant to Winnemem Tribal culture and well within their traditional aboriginal territory.
The City could have refused to issue the IWDP but instead relied on the fatally flawed Siskiyou County led CG Environmental Impact Report (EIR) which violated major mandates of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the County's own land use plans and ordinances, and issued the permit. W.A.T.E.R. and the Tribe have already filed a brief in court contesting the County's refusal to limit CG extraction of groundwater and the County's faulty and inadequate review of water supply, water quality, traffic, noise, hazards and hazardous materials, air quality, climate change, aesthetics, light and glare, and land use.
Importantly, the City of Mount Shasta, who formally endorsed Assembly Joint Resolution AJR39 that memorialized the Winnemem Wintu's Historic status as a Recognized California Indian Tribe, did not make CEQA-required ‘independent findings’ regarding the environmental impacts of the IWDP nor regarding the Tribe's AB52 consultation, and did not take into account the adverse effects the permit would have on the Tribe's sacred and cultural values that were disregarded in the County EIR.
Even though the City consultants wrote extensive and critical comments for the CG EIR that were never withdrawn and the County never resolved the City's issues in the Final EIR, City Council approved an IWDP that was different from the draft circulated with the EIR, and failed to make independent findings regarding the applicable conclusions in the EIR.
In approving the IWDP, the Mt. Shasta City Council failed to issue required CEQA independent findings regarding the Project’s effects on the aquifer; did not address new chemicals and waste stream contents revealed in the IWD Permit that were not studied in the original EIR; and did no meaningful analysis of the new constituents as required by CEQA. Issues and concerns that the City itself raised in comments on the EIR, concerning the Projects effects on noise, traffic, aesthetics and light pollution were ignored by the Council. Finally the City Council ignored the direct and indirect effects on Winnemem TCRs from the IWDP and a CG connection to the City’s Waste Water Treatment Plant. Mt. Shasta City simply failed to live up to any of its obligations as a CEQA responsible agency. For all these reasons, the Petitioners requested that the Court issue a writ of mandate directing the City to vacate its approval of the IWDP.
The full Brief can be found HERE.