Moreover, a region with higher water costs and unstable supplies would be less attractive for business investment, which means fewer jobs in an economy that desperately needs them.

Pat Milligan, president of San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, added, “Fish and Wildlife is already playing havoc with the Central Valley’s economy with its Delta Smelt rulings.  This would do the same here, with 3 million people affected.  All this so we can have water flowing in an area that has been dry nine to 11 months a year for at least a century.  This is unconscionable.”

“The Service’s position is that Southern California’s importation of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta adversely impacts the Delta Smelt, among other species,” Milligan continued. “But when we seek to make better use of our local water supplies from the Santa Ana River and its tributaries, the Service issues a rule that prevents us from doing so. It’s as if the Service is playing ‘Gotcha!’ But this isn’t a game. The lives and livelihoods of Southern California’s residents are at stake here.”

In May of 2010, inland water agencies provided Dr. Husing’s economic analysis to Industrial Economics Inc., a consulting firm used by the Service to analyze the economic impact of the proposed expanded Sucker habitat area.  In their 60-day notice of intent to file suit against the Service’s ruling, water agencies said much of the data included in Dr. Husing’s report was either never considered or side-stepped by the Service.  In particular, the Service completely omitted any impact of California’s 20-year water supply rule on the region’s economic health.

Agencies that co-signed that 60-notice include Bear Valley Mutual Water Company in Redlands; Big Bear Municipal Water District in Big Bear Lake; City of Redlands; City of Riverside Public Utilities; City of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department; East Valley Water District in Highland; Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District; San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District; San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District; Western Municipal Water District in Riverside; West Valley Water District in Rialto; and Yucaipa Valley Water District.