Winnemem Wintu Tribe and W.A.T.E.R. Challenge Crystal Geyser EIR in Opening Brief
Mt. Shasta, CA-- In Northern California, the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and the grassroots organization W.A.T.E.R. (We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review) filed an Opening Brief in Superior Court on February 22, continuing a six year community challenge to the flawed EIR for Crystal Geyer Water Company’s bottling plant project at the base of Mount Shasta.
The Crystal Geyser bottling facility project ("Project") Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was approved by Siskiyou County on December 12, 2017 without any upper limit on the amount of water CG may pump out of the ground and with a faulty and inadequate environmental review of water supply, water quality, traffic, noise, hazards and hazardous materials, air quality, climate change, aesthetics, light and glare, and land use. In doing so the County violated fundamental mandates of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and its own land use plans and ordinances.
The Project's significant environmental problems all stem from its location on the lower slopes of Mount Shasta, a major water source area for all of California, well known for its incredible beauty and extreme environmental sensitivity and within the historic aboriginal territory of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. The massive bottling facility is adjacent to a quiet, residential neighborhood and upslope from pristine natural springs that are sacred and significant in Winnemem Tribal culture.
The Brief challenges the County's assertions that it cannot regulate any amounts of Crystal Geyser’s ground water extraction or the operation of the bottling facility. The County maintains that its only discretionary approval within their authority was a permit for a “caretaker’s residence.” The Brief maintains that the Project contains a misleading and unstable Project Description and impermissibly narrow project objectives and details how the EIR’s impacts analysis is totally insufficient.
The County violated AB52, a recently enacted amendment to CEQA, by not completing the required consultation and by not taking the Winnemem Wintu's cultural and sacred values into account. The County improperly imposed inapplicable standards of proof on the Tribe, and terminated the consultation because the process was delaying the Project's schedule, which is not a valid basis for termination. We maintain “The provisions added to CEQA are not aspirational.” And that “The County did not consult in good faith…”
By approving the faulty and inadequate EIR and not requiring Crystal Geyser to be accountable, Siskiyou County is set to give away a corporate subsidy worth mega-millions of dollars; exposing neighbors and possibly the City of Mount Shasta to pollution and groundwater depletion; and facilitating the damage and destruction of Tribal Cultural Resources sacred to the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. W.A.T.E.R. and the Tribe are committed to protect the water, our communities and the environment for our many future generations to come
SEE the entire Brief HERE.
WHAT IS NEXT:
The County and Crystal Geyser will file an opposition brief due on March 29, we will file a reply due on April 17. The hearing in Superior Court in Yreka is scheduled for May 10 at 8:30 am with Judge Karen Dixon.