WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration on Sept. 12 announced the publication of a final rule to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule and revert federal pollution regulations to their pre-2015 versions.
BOZEMAN, Mont. — A Montana Water Court judge on Sept. 9 reversed denial of an application by a ranch to add water tanks for its livestock, saying the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) misapprehended evidence, misinterpreted the law, relied on inapplicable law and reached an arbitrary and capricious determination (Broken O Land & Livestock, LLC v. Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation, WC-MAPA-2018-02, Mont. Water, U. Missouri Div., Sun River Basin, 2019 Mont. Water LEXIS 11).
New developments in the following multiplaintiff, interstate or notable water rights cases are marked in boldface type.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The U.S. Supreme Court special master presiding Florida’s interstate water lawsuit against Georgia on Sept. 6 moved oral arguments about the criteria for equitable apportionment from December to Nov. 7 (Florida v. Georgia, No. 142 Orig., U.S. Sup.).
DENVER — Twenty business associations on Aug. 13 filed an amicus curiae brief urging the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse a federal district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction against the 2015 Clean Water Rule (State of Oklahoma, ex rel. Mike Hunter, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 1905055, 10th Cir.).
DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court on Sept. 9 affirmed that a plaintiff cannot sue over interference with water rights when no rights have been adjudicated under state law (The Luskin Daughters 1996 Trust, et al. v. Steve Young, et al., No. 18SA215, Colo. Sup., 2019 Colo. LEXIS 929).
BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Supreme Court on Aug. 27 said a trial court erred in ruling that the purchaser of a property acquired shares in a nonprofit mutual irrigation corporation because the shares were an appurtenance to the property (Eagle Creek Irrigation Company, Inc. v. A.C. & C.E. Investments, Inc., et al., No. 45675, Idaho Sup., 2019 Ida. LEXIS 134).
PRESCOTT, Ariz. — An Arizona federal court judge on Aug. 23 said the Navajo Nation cannot establish that the federal government has a trust responsibility to determine the quantities and sources of water required for the tribe’s reservation or to secure an adequate water supply for the reservation (Navajo Nation v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 03-507, D. Ariz., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143801).
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 28 affirmed that a voting scheme for a large aquifer authority does not disenfranchise voters because it has a narrow purpose of ensuring that low-population, high-water use regions get equal representation on the authority board (League of United Latin American Citizens v. Edwards Aquifer Authority, No. 18-50655, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 25999).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The U.S. Supreme Court special master presiding Florida’s interstate water lawsuit against Georgia on Aug. 29 moved oral arguments about the criteria for equitable apportionment from December to Oct. 17 (Florida v. Georgia, No. 142 Orig., U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The San Diego County Water Authority’s state court lawsuit against the Metropolitan Water District of California is about to get its fourth judge in nine years after the court on Sept. 6 sustained the authority’s motion for a peremptory disqualification of Judge Teri L. Jackson of the San Francisco County Superior Court (San Diego County Water Authority v. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, et al., No. CPF-10-510830, Calif. Super., San Francisco Co.).
BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A group of business intervenors in a Sept. 6 brief ask a Georgia federal judge to reconsider his decision not to vacate the 2015 Clean Water Rule and to instead remand it to federal agencies for revamping (State of Georgia, et al. v. Andrew Wheeler, et al., No. 15-79, S.D. Ga., Brunswick Div.).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A California federal judge on Aug. 14 denied a motion by the United States to reconsider his ruling that a Native American tribe lacks standing to assert a claim for how much groundwater it is entitled to, saying the motion is a “thinly veiled attempt to relitigate the summary judgment motions” (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District, et al., No. 13-00833, C.D. Calif.).
BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Supreme Court on Sept. 5 affirmed in part and reversed in part a trial court’s ruling on a Native American tribe’s water rights in a water adjudication proceeding (In Re: Coeur d’Alene-Spokane River Basin Adjudication, [United States and Coeur d’Alene Tribe v. Idaho, et al.], Nos. 45381, 45382, 45383, 45384, Idaho Sup., 2019 Ida. LEXIS 147).
BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A Georgia federal judge on Aug. 21 ruled that the 2015 Clean Water Rule is unlawful under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Administrative Procedure Act and she remanded the rule to the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers while leaving in place her existing preliminary injunction (Georgia, et al. v. Andrew R. Wheeler, et al., No. 15-79, S.D. Ga., Brunswick Div., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142151).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Removing state water quality reviews from the federal licensing process for hydroelectric dams threatens the nation’s waterways and creates confusion among the circuit courts on when states waive their authority to conduct the water studies, two fishing groups battling a ruling in favor of an Indian tribe tell the U.S. Supreme Court in an Aug. 26 petition for certiorari (California Trout, et al. v. Hoopa Valley Tribe, et al., No. 19-257, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 3572).
SANTA FE, N.M. — The New Mexico Court of Appeals on Aug. 13 affirmed a lower court’s decision that a landowner had no water right claim and had only rights to livestock watering, based on a state statute that governs the partial forfeiture of water rights (New Mexico ex rel. Office of the State Engineer v. Toby Romero, No. A-1-CA-36619, 2019 N.M. App. LEXIS 106).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers disregarded its own policies and procedures when it lowered water levels in Lake Okeechobee, a Florida lake, causing a “man-made drought,” United States Sugar Corp. alleges in an Aug. 1 complaint filed in a Florida federal court (United States Sugar Corporation v. Lieutenant General Todd T. Semonite, et al., No. 19-81086, S.D. Fla.).
AUSTIN, Texas — The city of Houston sued the state of Texas and the Brazos River Authority on July 22 in the Texas 261st Judicial District Court, Travis County, alleging that a recently passed bill requiring it to sell its rights to a proposed reservoir violates the Texas Constitution and exceeds the state’s authority (Houston v. Texas, et al., No. D-1-GN-19-004189, Texas District Court, Travis Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States in a July 1 reply brief urged the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to dismiss a breach of contract and water takings lawsuit against it by the city of Fresno and 17 water districts and municipalities, claiming that because the plaintiffs do not “own a cognizable property interest” in the Central Valley Project, the court lacks jurisdiction over their claims (Fresno, et al. v. United States, No. 16-1276, Fed. Clms.).