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 — The California Department of Water Resources on May 2 said it has formally withdrawn permit applications for the state’s WaterFix project so it can begin an environmental review and planning process for a one-tunnel project.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).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A California federal judge on April 19 said a Native American tribe has standing to seek declaratory relief for pore space under its reservation, but said the tribe lacks standing to assert a claim for quantification of how much groundwater it has a right to or to assert that the water must be of a certain quality (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District, et al., No. 13-00883, C.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Four environmental groups on March 21 sued the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in the District of Columbia for allegedly failing to undertake an adequate environmental review before issuing the Green River Block Exchange (GRBE) Contract for the Green River and the Colorado River Basin (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 19-789, D. D.C.).
New developments in the following multiplaintiff, interstate or notable water rights cases are marked in boldface type.
LOS ANGELES — Two California water regulators have no duty to ensure that recycled water is put to reasonable use and not for water-intensive, non-native crops, a California appeals court ruled March 12 (Wishtoyo Foundation v. State Water Resources Control Board, Nos. B285271 and B286465, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 8, 2019 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1704).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States on March 22 moved to dismiss a water rights lawsuit filed by a Utah native American tribe (Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation v. United States Department of Interior, et al., No. 18-547, D. D.C.).
CINCINNATI — After a four-year journey that indirectly went through the U.S. Supreme Court, an Ohio federal judge on March 26 denied a motion by three states for a preliminary injunction against the Clean Water Rule: Definition of "Waters of the United States," 80 Fed. Reg. 37,054, June 29, 2015, finding that the states failed to show that they will suffer irreparable harm while the current administration wrestles with the creation of a new 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 50603).
ST. GEORGE, Utah — Utah and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on March 20 formalized the Green River Water Rights Exchange contract, according to a bureau press release.