OKLAHOMA CITY — Finding that a nonprofit water company’s fee requirements for water services to a housing development were “excessive, unreasonable, and confiscatory,” an Oklahoma federal judge on Aug. 16 said the developer is not required to use the water company and can use another water provider.
BOSTON — A Massachusetts federal judge on Sept. 1 granted the United States’ motion to remand a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s Clean Water Rule without vacating the rule, acknowledging that days earlier an Arizona federal judge did vacate the rule.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California federal judge on Sept. 3 enjoined a county from enforcing two water ordinances because she said they appear to discriminate against Hmong residents of the rural county and deprive them of water.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Three northern California irrigation districts on Sept. 1 filed a complaint in state court against the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), saying the board’s Aug. 20 curtailment of the districts’ water rights in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Watershed (the California Delta) is contrary to law, without factual basis and in violation of due process rights.
TUCSON, Ariz. — An Arizona federal judge on Aug. 30 granted a voluntary motion for remand filed by defendants U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in an action brought by Native American tribes seeking to reinstate the repealed 2015 Clean Water Rule and vacate a navigable waters rule. The judge also ordered that, upon remand, the Trump-era rules in place be vacated.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on Aug. 16 said Lake Mead will operate in its first-ever Level 1 Shortage Condition due to drought in the Colorado River basin.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Aug. 23 granted a motion by the U.S. solicitor general to participate as amicus curiae in Oct. 4 arguments on whether groundwater under Mississippi an interstate resource subject to equitable apportionment in an interstate dispute with Tennessee.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Court of Federal Claims on July 26 reconsidered its 2017 finding in a takings case and said instead that a grazing association did not have a right to beneficial use of stock water in a national forest and the United States did not effect a physical taking by denying grazing permits.
New developments in the following multiplaintiff, interstate or notable water rights cases are marked in boldface type.
SAN FRANCISCO — Twenty-two states that intervened in a Clean Water Rule lawsuit on Aug. 6 told the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California that it should grant the United States’ motion to remand the case to federal agencies and not vacate the Trump-era version of the rule.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The Navajo Nation on Aug. 4 stood firm on its request that a New Mexico federal court vacate the Trump administration’s Clean Water Rule, saying the rule “has been causing harm for over a year and remanding it without vacatur will allow that harm to continue for at least another year.”
HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Water Court on July 12 issued its first final decree since its creation 41 years ago by adjudicating the water rights claimed by the United States on behalf of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.
CHARLESTON, S.C. — A South Carolina federal court judge on July 14 remanded environmentalists’ lawsuit against the Trump administration’s Clean Water Rule to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers without vacatur so the new administration can begin a rulemaking process.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army on July 30 said they will restore the definition of the waters of the United States that was in place until 2015 and then begin a second rulemaking process to “refine this regulatory foundation and establish an updated and durable definition.”
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Due to “alarming lows” of water levels, California’s State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) on Aug. 3 and Aug. 2 took action that could curtail 6,561 water rights in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and on the Upper Russian River.
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 3 affirmed that a Texas water authority is not entitled to state action immunity against an antitrust lawsuit brought by two water utilities.
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.