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.
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).