By Matt Weiser

The Sacramento Bee ( Property owners in five counties around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are protesting plans by the state to survey their land for a controversial new water canal – opposition that has landed them in court.

The conflict marks a rocky start to the rebirth of the peripheral canal, a plan to divert the Sacramento River around the Delta rejected by voters statewide in 1982. The proposed surveys are an important first step in reviving the project, still considered by water planners an important piece of California's plumbing.

Three dozen property owners in the Delta have refused to let researchers from the California Department of Water Resources onto their land to study soil properties and environmental conditions. As a result, state Attorney General Jerry Brown has petitioned the courts in Contra Costa, Solano, Yolo, San Joaquin and Sacramento counties to enforce access on DWR's behalf.

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