BISMARCK, N.D. — A North Dakota federal judge on May 14 lifted his preliminary injunction against the Clean Water Rule in the state of Colorado after granting the state’s motion to withdraw as a plaintiff (North Dakota, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 15-59, D. N.D.).
YAKIMA, Wash. — A Washington state court judge on May 9 issued a final decree adjudicating water rights in the Yakima River Basin, a process that has taken 42 years and gone through two judges (Washington Department of Ecology v. James J. Acquavella, et al., No. 77-2-01484-5, Wash. Super., Yakima Co.).
New developments in the following multiplaintiff, interstate or notable water rights cases are marked in boldface type.
CARSON CITY, Nev. — The Nevada Supreme Court on May 2 reversed and remanded a water rights extension approval to the state engineer with orders to show why his decision did not violate the state’s anti-speculation rule for water rights (Sierra Pacific Industries v. Tim Wilson, P.E., et al., No. 73933, Nev. Sup., 2019 Nev. LEXIS 24).
SAN FRANCISCO — The First District California Court of Appeal on April 29 ruled that a 1939 agreement giving water rights to the City of Calistoga was not temporary, did not expire and is not null and void with damages due to the heir of the person who made the agreement (Deborah O’Gorman v. City of Calistoga, No. A150972, Calif. App., 1st Dist., Div. 2, 2019 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2971).
LOS ANGELES — California’s Imperial Irrigation District on April 18 filed a complaint against four water districts, seeking a court order vacating the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s (MWDSC) agreement to enter the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan (LBDCP) and to conduct an environmental analysis of any water shortfall under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (Imperial Irrigation District v. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, et al., No. 19STCP01379, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
HELENA, Mont. — A Montana state court judge on April 9 reversed a beneficial water use permit issued by the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) to silver and copper mining company RC Resources Inc. and ordered the department to reanalyze water availability (Clark Fork Coalition, et al. v. Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, et al., No. CDV-2018-150, Mont. Dist., Lewis & Clark Co.).
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Rhode Island state court judge on April 23 granted summary judgment in a lawsuit by a conservation group and a state town, ruling that state water law does not prevent a town from suppling water for a power generating plant (Conservation Law Foundation, Inc. v. Clear River Energy, LLC, et al., No. PC-2017-1037, Town of Burrillville v. Clear River Energy, LLC., et al., No. PC-2017-039, R.I. Super., Providence, 2019 R.I. Super. LEXIS 34).
SAN DIEGO — A California federal judge on April 29 approved the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Settlement Agreement between the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps and the Fallbrook Public Utility Water District settling a 68-year-old water rights lawsuit (United States v. Fallbrook Public Utility District, et al., No. 51-1247, S.D. Calif.).
FRESNO, Calif. — A California appeals court panel on April 24 agreed that a water district did not violate state law or abuse its discretion when it ordered a farmer to remove pistachio trees that were planted three feet away from a water pipeline and when it withheld irrigation water from the farmer for failing to remove the trees himself (Anthony Inzana v. Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors, No. F075810, Calif. App., 5th Dist., 2019 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2860).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Department of Water Resources on May 2 said it has formally withdrawn permit applications for the state’s WaterFix project so it can begin an environmental review and planning process for a one-tunnel project.
HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Supreme Court on April 30 denied a petition to assume supervisory control over a dispute between neighboring property owners, saying the petitioner failed to demonstrate that urgent or emergency factors make the normal appeal process inadequate (Tatanka Land & Livestock Co., LLC, et al. v. Montana Sixth Judicial District Court, et al., No. OP 19-0097, Mont. Sup., 2019 Mont. LEXIS 173).
CINCINNATI — An Ohio federal judge on March 26 denied a motion by three states to reconsider his March order denying a preliminary injunction against the Clean Water Rule: Definition of "Waters of the United States," 80 Fed. Reg. 37,054, June 29, 2015, saying he did not misstate the current status of the rule (Ohio, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 15-2467, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Div., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74424).
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — A California state court judge on May 9 issued proposed judgment and writs of mandamus ordering the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to set aside its water curtailment orders issued to five water districts in 2015 when the state was experiencing an unprecedented drought (California Water Curtailment Cases, JCCP No. 4838, Calif. Super., Santa Clara Co.).
DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court on May 6 affirmed dismissal of a water claim because the plaintiff was given sufficient notice eight years earlier about an application to change a diversion point for the defendant’s water rights (Gary Sheek, et al. v. Roger Brooks, et al., No. 18SA110, Colo. Sup., 2019 Colo. LEXIS 354).
BISMARCK, N.D. — A coalition of 10 New Mexico counties on April 16 moved to intervene in a Clean Water Rule lawsuit after a new state administration announced its intention to withdraw as a plaintiff (North Dakota, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 15-59, D. N.D.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 3 affirmed a district court ruling that Missouri cannot invoke the doctrine of parens patriae to sue the United States over its environmental compliance with the planned Northwest Area Water Supply Project (Manitoba, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 17-5242, D.C. Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 13372).
SALT LAKE CITY — Four Native Americans cannot intervene in a suit by the Ute Indian Tribe to enforce a tribal court’s monetary judgment in a water rights dispute because they failed to show they have an interest in the action or that there are common questions of law or fact, a Utah federal judge held May 1 (Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah & Ouray Reservation v. Gregory D. McKee, et al., No. 2:18-cv-314, D. Utah, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75033).
DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court on April 29 reversed a lower court’s ruling and said the postponement doctrine applied to the water rights dispute at hand because two different parties sought competing rights to the same source of water (Concerning the Application for Water Rights of S. Cade Huffaker and Bradley H. Huffaker in the Conejos River or its Tributaries in Conejos County, No. 18SA216 and Concerning the Application for Water Rights of Lee Crowther in the Conejos River or its Tributaries in Conejos County, No. 18SA217, Colo. Sup., 2019 Colo. LEXIS 332).
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A split Minnesota appeals panel on April 22 reversed a trial court verdict in a groundwater permit case, ruling that alleged violations of a state environmental law must be brought against the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and that the state’s common-law public-trust doctrine applies to navigable waters and not to groundwater withdrawals (White Bear Lake Restoration Association, et al. v. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, et al., No. A18-0750, Minn. App., 2019 Minn. App. LEXIS 141).