The state Supreme Court has accepted for review a California Environmental Quality Act case involving the water supply for a huge project in Sacramento County.

Opponents of the Sunrise Douglas community plan and a related specific plan are questioning whether the environmental impact report adequately addressed the issue of water supply by identifying potential water resources when those resources had not yet been dedicated to the project.

Sacramento County - which approved the 6,000-acre, 22,500-unit community plan three years ago (see CP&DR Local Watch, August 2002) - approved the project based on water from the Sacramento River. However, the pipeline from the Sacramento River is years away from construction. In the meantime, the project, which is under development within the newly incorporated City of Rancho Cordova, is relying on groundwater.

Project opponents argue that extensive groundwater pumping would lower the groundwater table and pull water away from the nearby Cosumnes River.

In their appeal the state Supreme Court, project opponents also questioned whether the Third District Court of Appeal should have focused on the administrative record more than on how project opponents responded to the trial court's ruling. The Third District opinion contained harsh criticism of the opponents' legal strategy and statement of the facts (see CP&DR Legal Digest, April 2005, March 2005).

The case is Vineyard Area Citizens v. City of Rancho Cordova, No. S132972.