SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The United States on March 28 filed twin lawsuits in California federal and state courts alleging that the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) December adoption of a water quality control plan for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Pub. Res. Code § 21000 et seq. (United States v. State Water Resources Control Board, et al., No. 19-at-326, E.D. Pa., Sacramento Div., United States v. State Water Resources Control Board, et al., No. 34-2019-80003111, Calif. Super., Sacramento Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An estate and seven individuals who describe themselves as “pre-federal” water claimants in the Rio Grande basin on March 20 filed a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in an interstate dispute between Texas and New Mexico and Colorado (Texas v. New Mexico, et al., No. 141, Original, U.S. Sup.).
The United States on March 8 withdrew two appeals of federal court rulings vacating the Trump administration’s so-called Suspension Rule for the Clean Water Rule: Definition of "Waters of the United States," 80 Fed. Reg. 37,054, June 29, 2015, and told another court that lawsuits pending there about the rule are moot and should be dismissed.
PHOENIX — An Arizona federal judge on March 26 ruled that the operator of the Central Arizona Project is obliged to deliver an extra 10,000 acre-feet of water to a Native American tribe under terms of a 1984 water rights settlement (Ak-Chin Indian Community v. Central Arizona Water Conservation District, No. 17-918, D. Ariz., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50436).
TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington state appeals court on April 2 affirmed that the Washington Department of Ecology did not exceed its statutory authority in adopting the so-called Dungeness Rule or show that the department acted in an arbitrary or capricious manner in doing so (Magdalena T. Bassett, et al. v. The Department of Ecology, No. 51221-1-II, Wash. App., Div. 2, 2019 Wash. App. LEXIS 810).
PHOENIX — The Arizona Supreme Court on March 28 ruled that the Arizona Corporation Commission does not have authority over a city’s condemnation of a water company (Surprise v. Arizona Corporation Commission, et al., No. CV-18-0137-SA, Ariz. Sup., 2019 Ariz. LEXIS 84).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California appeals court on March 28 said six water districts cannot use subvention to get the state government to pay for unfunded water mandates because the districts are able to recoup added costs by raising their water rates (Paradise Irrigation District, et al. v. Commission on State Mandates, et al., No. C081929, Calif. App., 3rd Dist., 2019 Cal. App. LEXIS 227).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California appeals court on March 20 said six water districts cannot use subvention to get the state government to pay for unfunded water mandates because the districts are able to recoup added costs by raising their water rates (Paradise Irrigation District, et al. v. Commission on State Mandates, et al., No. C081929, Calif. App., 3rd Dist., 2019 Cal. App. LEXIS 227).
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — The last remaining plaintiffs in an interdistrict water dispute were dismissed after the parties reached a settlement, a California state court was told March 1 (San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, et al. v. San Gabriel Valley Water Company, et al., No. CIVDS13111085, Calif. Super., San Bernardino Co.).
New developments in the following multiplaintiff, interstate or notable water rights cases are marked in boldface type.
FRESNO, Calif. — A California federal judge on March 11 ordered California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) to say by March 22 whether it agrees to freeze all preparation work for the state’s WaterFix project (Bay.org v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 17-1176, E.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38788).
DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court on Feb. 25 affirmed a state water court ruling that a 1909 water decree cannot be enforced by a water user because the decree lacks “indicia of enforceability” such as an appropriation date, a priority number and quantification (Donald E. Dill, et al. v. Yamasaki Ring, LLC, et al., No. 17SA231, Colo. Sup., 2019 Colo. LEXIS 165).
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada State Engineer Tim Wilson on Feb. 19 asked the Nevada Supreme Court to find that a state trial court erred in overruling an order that calls for a certain amount of water to be relinquished in exchange for relinquishing rights to an annual amount of water (Tim Wilson, et al. v. Pahrump Fair Water, LLC, et al., No. 77722, Nev. Sup.).
RENO, Nev. — A federal water master for the Truckee River on Feb. 28 asked a Nevada federal court for further guidance on the categories of water eligible for recoupment by the United States and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (United States v. Board of Directors, Truckee-Carson Irrigation District, et al., No. 95-757, D. Nev.).
HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Supreme Court on Feb. 19 denied a motion by a water rights claimant to file an out-of-time appeal of a state water court denial of his claims as unsupported by evidence (Tom Pratt, et al. v. Russell E. Blalack, No. DA 19-0086, Mont. Sup., 2019 Mont. LEXIS 86).
SAN FRANCISCO — A California appeals panel on Feb. 22 reversed a trial court ruling in an abandoned water rights case, finding that a water district’s petition for a peremptory writ of mandate was untimely (Millview County Water District v. State Water Resources Control Board, et al., No. A146605, Calif. App., 1st Dist., Div. 1, 2019 Cal. App. LEXIS 152).
SPOKANE, Wash. — A Washington state appeals panel on Feb. 26 affirmed a decision by the state Pollution Control Hearings Board that an industrial park’s water system does not qualify as a municipal water supplier (Crown West Realty, LLC v. Pollution Control Hearings Board, et al., No. 35610-8-III, Wash. App., Div. 3, 2019 Wash. App. LEXIS 433).
LOS ANGELES — A California federal judge on March 5 awarded two environmental groups $2.92 million in attorney fees and $297,328 in costs as the prevailing parties in an Endangered Species Act (ESA) case against the operator of dam on the Santa Clara River that allegedly resulted in the loss of an endangered fish species (Wishtoyo Foundation, et al. v. United Water Conservation District, No. 16-3869, C.D. Calif., S. Div.).
LOS ANGELES — A California water rate lawsuit was remanded to a trial court on March 4 after a state appeals panel said the administrative records are insufficient to determine whether the groundwater rates charged by a water district to a city for three years “bore a reasonable relationship to the burdens on or the benefits of its conservation activities” (City of San Buenaventura v. United Water Conservation District, et al., No. B251810, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 6, 2019 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1523).
DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court on Feb. 19 affirmed dismissal of an objection by a water and sanitation district to a plan to use additional sources of replacement water under another water district’s decreed augmentation plan (Well Augmentation Subdistrict of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District, et al. v. Centennial Water & Sanitation District, et al., Colo. Sup., 2019 Colo. LEXIS 146).