Court: Southern California water district’s land buy cleared

This July 23, 2015 photo provided by the California Department of Water Resources shows The Russell Avenue bridge, over the Delta Mendota Canal in Firebaugh, Calif., The drought has caused the bridge to subside until there’s almost no space between bottom of bridge decking and canal water surface. A NASA scientist says in a report released Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015 that parts of California’s Central Valley are sinking faster than ever as groundwater is being pumped during the state’s historic drought. (Florence Low/ California Department of Water Resources via AP)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Southern California’s largest water supplier has been cleared to buy sprawling farmland in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that could be used to help build twin water tunnels.

The Sacramento Bee reported Thursday ( ) that Metropolitan Water District can move ahead with the $175 million purchase, despite ongoing court challenges.

A state appeals court lifted a temporary stay that had stalled the sale.

Metropolitan says it might use the land east of San Francisco to store earth and equipment from a massive tunnel project backed by Gov. Jerry Brown to send delta water south.

Officials in San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties sued, saying the deal should first undergone environmental studies. Metropolitan says it hasn’t committed to any plans.

The purchase may proceed as the lawsuit plays out in court.

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