ELY, Nev. — Although the Nevada state engineer in August denied a water rights application to build a 300-mile water pipeline from western Nevada to Las Vegas, 59 organizations and individuals on Sept. 17 asked a state court to review the decision because they said the engineer’s monitoring and mitigation program would set a dangerous precedent for groundwater (White Pine County, Nevada, et al. v. White Pine County, et al., No. CV-1204049, Nev. Dist., 7th Jud. Dist.).
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court on Sept. 27 said it lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal of an energy company’s water rights claim because the appeal was not properly before the high court and because the appellant waited more than four decades to challenge the state engineer’s recommendation and was thus not an aggrieved party (EnerVest, Ltd. v. Utah State Engineer, et al., No. 20160394, Utah Sup., 2018 Utah LEXIS 157).
BISMARCK, N.D. — A North Dakota federal judge on Sept. 18 granted a motion by the Iowa governor to enjoin enforcement of the Clean Water Rule in the state (North Dakota, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 15-59, D. N.D.).
PHOENIX — An Arizona federal judge on Sept. 24 granted summary judgment against an irrigation district that sought exclusion from a state groundwater management law (Roosevelt Irrigation District v. United States, No. 15-448, D. Ariz., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163401).
SANTA FE, N.M. — A New Mexico federal judge on Sept. 26 overruled the objections of two water/utility districts to the adjudication of their water rights, finding that both failed to show evidence about historical water use that exceeds what is listed in a proposed consent order (United States v. A&R Productions, et al., No. 01-72, D. N.M., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165266).
SANTA ANA, Calif. — A California federal judge on Oct. 4 issued a final judgment enjoining a state water district from operating a dam in a way that kills fish and ordering the district to construct a permanent passage for the fish (Wishtoyo Foundation, et al. v. United Water Conservation District, No. 16-3869, C.D. Calif.).
FRESNO, Calif. — A California federal judge on Sept. 28 largely denied summary judgment to the United States in a 13-year-old lawsuit by environmentalists who say the government allowed water contractors in to take so much water from the Sacramento River that it harmed endangered fish species rivers and streams (Natural Resources Defense Council, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 05-1207, E.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168307).
GALVESTON, Texas — A Texas federal judge on Sept. 12 temporarily enjoined enforcement of the Clean Water Rule: Definition of "Waters of the United States," 80 Fed. Reg. 37,054, June 29, 2015, in the states of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi (Texas, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 15-162, S.D. Texas, Galveston Div.).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico federal judge on Sept. 11 sent the “first impression” question of whether three Native American tribes’ aboriginal water rights were extinguished merely by the imposition of Spanish authority and without any affirmative act to the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to answer (United States, et al. v. Tom Abousleman, et al., No. 6:83-cv-1041, D. N.M., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155413).
Following the Aug. 16 nationwide injunction against the Trump administration’s “Suspension Rule” for the effective date of the 2015 Clean Water Rule, four federal courts were asked to reopen cases challenging the rule, to issue a preliminary injunction against the rule or to grant plaintiffs summary judgment (Georgia, et al. v. Andrew Sheeler, et al., No. 15-79, S.D. Ga., Ohio v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 15-2467, S.D. Ohio, Texas v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 15-162, S.D. Texas, Oklahoma v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 15-381, N.D. Okla.).
New developments in the following multiplaintiff, interstate or notable water rights cases are marked in boldface type.
BRIDGEPORT, Calif. — A California county on Aug. 15 asked a state court to issue a writ of mandate directing Los Angeles to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) before it proceeds with any plans to reduce water to land in Mono County owned by Los Angeles (Mono v. Los Angeles, et al., No. CV180078, Calif. Super., Mono Co.).
PROSSER, Wash. — A Washington state court on Aug. 2. reinstated a decision of a county water conservancy board approving a change/transfer of a ground water certificate, reversing a contrary ruling by the state Pollution Control Hearings Board (Loyal Pig, LLC, et al. v. Washington, et al., No. 18-2-00592-0, Wash. Super., Benton Co.).
MARION, Ore. — An Oregon state court judge on Aug. 15 ordered the Oregon Water Resources Department to take charge of Upper Klamath Lake for the purpose of dividing and distributing the later in accordance with state water rights priority (Klamath Irrigation District v. Oregon Water Resources Department, et al., No. 18CV112, Ore. Cir., Marion Co.).
SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah landowner who has been trying for almost 20 years to get water for his proposed residential development lacks standing to challenge an unrelated water change application, the Utah Supreme Court ruled Aug. 7 (Mark Charles Haik v. Kent L. Jones, et al., No. 20160878, Utah Sup., 2018 Utah LEXIS 118).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California state appeals court on Aug. 29 ruled that the public trust doctrine still applies to county-issued permits for groundwater extraction and is not supplanted by the state’s 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) (Environmental Law Foundation, et al. v. State Water Resources Control Board, et al., No. C083239, Calif. App., 3rd Dist., 2018 Cal. App. LEXIS 775).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 17 affirmed dismissal of a South Dakota Native American tribe’s water takings claims against the United States, agreeing with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims that the tribe had not pleaded that it was not getting the water it is entitled to and has suffered no injury (Crow Creek Sioux Tribe v. United States, Fed. Cir., No. 17-2340, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2300).
TACOMA, Wash. — The city of Port Angeles, Wash., on Aug. 14 voluntarily dismissed its lawsuit alleging that the United States breached a dam-removal law and memorandum of understanding by failing to address water quality problems that the city said were interfering with its water right (Port Angeles v. United States, et al., No. 18-5603, W.D. Wash., Tacoma).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 15 reversed a district court’s ruling in a New Mexico water adjudication and remanded the case for entry of an order dismissing about 800 objections to a settlement (New Mexico, ex rel. State Engineer, et al. v. Nansy Carson, et al., No. 17-2147, 10th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 22609).
CHARLESTON, S.C. — A South Carolina federal judge on Aug. 16 issued a nationwide injunction against the Trump administration’s “Suspension Rule” that purportedly delays implementation of the Clean Water Rule until 2020 while a new rule is written (South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, et al. v. E. Scott Pruitt, et al., No. 18-330, D. S.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138595).