BOSTON — Four years after a First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found that the Penobscot Nation’s reservation does not include any of the tribe’s namesake river, an en banc majority of the court affirmed this finding in a July 8 opinion, holding that both Maine and federal Indian claims settlement acts unambiguously established that the nation controls islands within a disputed section of the river, but not the river itself.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Mississippi’s interstate water dispute with Tennessee will be the first case heard when the U.S. Supreme Court begins its new term on Oct. 4, the court announced July 13.
PHOENIX — An Arizona federal judge on July 6 dismissed a water district’s counterclaim against an Indian tribe and cross-claim against the United States in the tribe’s suit against two water districts over the quality of the water provided to the tribe, finding that the claims are prohibited by sovereign immunity.
SAN FRANCISCO — Two Idaho landowners on June 28 asked the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals not to hold a Clean Water Rule case in abeyance pending new rulemaking by the Environmental Protection Agency and to instead expedite their appeal and decide the case without oral argument so they can get protections under the new rule before a replacement rule takes precedence.
New developments in the following multiplaintiff, interstate or notable water rights cases are marked in boldface type.
NAPA, Calif. — A public benefit corporation on June 15 sued a California city in state court alleging the city has violated the public trust doctrine by issuing groundwater permits in violation of its duty to safeguard a public resource.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A New Mexico federal magistrate judge on June 24 placed in abeyance the United States’ obligation to respond to a Native American tribe’s motion for summary judgment against the Trump administration’s Clean Water Rule.
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — A California water authority on June 18 filed suit asking a state court to declare invalid a resolution by a water district that the authority says interferes with the authority’s obligations under the State Water Supply Contract.
SANTA ROSA, Calif. — An environmental group on June 23 filed suit asking a California state court to enjoin Sonoma County from issuing well permits until the county adopts policies and procedures to comply with its nondiscretionary duties as administrator of the public trust for groundwater.
SAN FRANCISCO — Thirteen environmental groups on July 2 told a California federal court that they want the court to vacate the Trump administration’s Clean Water Rule before granting the Biden administration’s motion to remand the issue to the Environmental Protection Agency for development of a new rule.
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Less than three months before a U.S. Supreme Court special master is set to conduct a trial on a claim that New Mexico is taking Texas’ share of water under the Rio Grande Compact, Texas moved June 24 for leave to file a supplemental complaint, citing “recently discovered” evidence that New Mexico’s water diversion is more extensive than Texas first believed.
SANTA FE, N.M. — A New Mexico Court of Appeals panel on June 24 affirmed the striking of a stream system participation form because it involves a water rights adjudication that is barred under the doctrine of res judicata.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Kansas federal magistrate judge on June 18 granted motions by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Kansas Department of Agriculture to stay a water rights case brought by the Kansas Audubon Society so the court can resolve whether the defendants are protected by sovereign immunity.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on July 2 said a hearing on exceptions to a special master’s report in the interstate water dispute between Mississippi and Tennessee “are set for oral argument in due course.”
AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas appeals court on June 30 affirmed that a state law ordering the city of Houston to transfer its interest and water rights in a planned reservoir to an authority is unconstitutional.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 28 denied review of a California state court ruling that an irrigation district can abrogate farmers’ water rights despite a 1980 Supreme Court ruling and protection under federal law.
PORTLAND, Ore. — An Oregon Indian tribe had its victory in federal court reversed but then won on different grounds when the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 23 ordered dismissal of a citizen suit alleging that the tribe’s operation of a hydroelectric project violates the Clean Water Act (CWA) after finding that the tribe never waived its sovereign immunity or was stripped of immunity by the CWA.
BOSTON — The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on June 9 asked a Massachusetts federal court to voluntarily remand the Trump administration’s Clean Water Rule to the agencies because they decided after review to begin the rulemaking process to revise or replace the rule.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Third District Court of Appeal on May 28 affirmed a trial court ruling that a rate hike by a water district violated the state constitution and that the plaintiffs are due $66,000 in state private attorney general fees for conferring a substantial benefit to more than 7,500 ratepayers.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico federal judge on May 26 granted a motion by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stay until July 1 a case challenging the Clean Water Act (CWA) until the new leadership of the EPA announces its “next step” with regard to interpretation of the law.