SANTA FE, N.M. — The New Mexico Court of Appeals on April 13 affirmed a special master’s stream adjudication ruling that gave property owners a groundwater irrigation right and a domestic water right but denied them a claimed historic right to surface water from the Rio Grande (New Mexico, ex rel. State Engineer v. Steven E. Faykus, et al., No. A-1-CA-36848, N.M. App., 2020 N.M. Unpub. LEXIS 119).
SPOKANE, Wash. — A Washington state appeals court on May 5 said a water rights holder applying to change the location of it water usage must recalculate its annual consumptive quantity, a decision that reverses a trial court and reinstates a ruling by the Pollution Control Hearings Board (Loyal Pig, LLC v. Department of Ecology, No. 36525-5-III, Wash. App., Div. 3; 2020 Wash. App. LEXIS 1262).
LANSING, Mich. — A Michigan administrative law judge on April 24 issued a proposal for decision that the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) approve a bottled water pumping permit application filed by Nestle Waters North America consistent with a permit issued in 2018 (In the Matter of: Petitions of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, et al., No. 18-011549, Mich. Off. Admin. Hrngs. & Rules).
SAN FRANCISCO — A coalition of 17 east and west coast states and other plaintiffs on May 1 filed a declaratory judgment action against the Trump administration’s latest attempt at instituting a new clean water rule, seeking injunctive relief under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. ch. 5, subch. I § 500 et seq. (State of California, et al. v. Andrew R. Wheeler, et al., No. 20-3055, N.D. Calif.).
DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court on April 20 affirmed a state water court’s approval of a change-of-use application by a water company, concluding that water the company diverts into a basin is imported water that use does not injure the rights of a downstream user (Santa Maria Reservoir Co. v. Jim Warner, No. 2020 CO 27, Colo. Sup., 2020 Colo. LEXIS 357).
FRESNO, Calif. — A California federal judge on April 7 denied a motion by six environmental organizations to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent three federal agencies from using rewritten biological opinions (BiOps) that the plaintiffs say will lower stream and river water levels to the detriment of endangered fish species (Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, et al. v. Wilbur Ross, et al., No. 20-431, E.D. Calif.).
New developments in the following multiplaintiff, interstate or notable water rights cases are marked in boldface type.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The state of Florida on April 13 filed exceptions to a U.S. Supreme Court special master’s recommendation about the state’s groundwater dispute with Georgia, saying the new special master “rewrote this case from the ground up” (State of Florida v. State of Georgia, No. 142 Original, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on April 3 postponed oral arguments on a motion to review a river master’s final determination in an interstate water dispute between Texas and New Mexico (Texas v. New Mexico, et al., No. 141, Original, U.S. Sup.).
HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Supreme Court on April 7 affirmed that a water rights holder abandoned one right due to nonuse but remanded a ruling for a second, separate right because a high court majority found that a water court judge misapprehended testimony about how much irrigation was done with the second right (Twin Creeks Farm & Ranch, LLC v. Petrolia Irrigation District, et al., No. DA 19-0076, Mont. Sup., 2020 MT 90).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A group of California farmers and ranchers on March 13 petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, arguing that a Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that federally guaranteed water rights for Native American tribes “upends” water law in the western United States where state law and the federal McCarren Amendment have traditionally governed water law (Lonny E. Baley, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 19-1134, U.S. Sup.).
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — A U.S. Supreme Court special master on March 31 dismissed counterclaims against the United States in a water allocation dispute between Texas and New Mexico as being barred by sovereign immunity (Texas v. New Mexico, et al., No. 141, Original, U.S. Sup.).
ELY, Nev. — A Nevada state court judge on March 9 denied a motion by the state engineer to rescind a 2013 court order and reinstate a water award to the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) and related rulings (White Pine County, et al. v. Tim Wilson, P.E., et al., No. Cv-1204049, Nev. Dist., White Pine Co.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California appeals court on April 10 ruled that a trial court erred in finding that the Delta Stewardship Council violated the Delta Reform Act by failing to adopt “performance measure targets” to meet the law’s objectives (Delta Stewardship Council Cases, Nos. C082944 and C086199, Calif. App., 3rd Dist., 2020 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2279).
CARSON CITY, Nev. — The Nevada Supreme Court on March 27 reversed a $50,025 attorney fee award in a water rights case, finding that the successful plaintiff waited too long to seek fees (Tim Wilson, P.E., et al. v. Rodney St. Clair, No. 77651, Nev. Sup., 2020 Nev. Unpub. LEXIS 340).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Court of Federal Claims on March 25 said Fresno, Calif., and 17 irrigation districts can pursue their claims that the United States breached a water contract in 2014 by curtailing water deliveries, but dismissed their claims of unconstitutional taking (Fresno v. United States, No. 16-1276L, Fed. Clms., 2020 U.S. Claims LEXIS 444).
SALEM, Ore. — An Oregon state court judge on March 10 granted partial summary judgment to a couple who sued the Oregon Water Resources Department for restricting their groundwater rights in favor of surface water rights (Troy Brooks, et al. v. Thomas Byler, et al., No. 19CV27798, Ore. Cir., Marion Co.).
LOS ANGELES — A California appellate panel in an April 3 unpublished opinion ruled that groups raised their concerns over the environmental impact that a residential development would have on the Santa Clara River in “an insufficient manner to satisfy settled exhaustion principles” and, therefore, denied their petition for a writ of mandate (Friends of the Santa Clara River, et al. v. Los Angeles, et al., No. B296547, Calif. App., 2nd Dept., Div. 5, 2020 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2129).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California federal judge on March 24 dismissed with prejudice an eight-year-old due process lawsuit by a couple who claimed that county officials criminally prosecuted one of them over an irrigation ditch on their property and then acted improperly by delaying their application to amend their water license (Irvine H. Leen, et al. v. Harold M. Thomas, et al., No. 12-1627, E.D. Pa., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51078).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on March 23 granted the U.S. solicitor general leave to participate in April 21 oral arguments on a motion to review a river master’s final determination in an interstate water dispute among Texas, New Mexico and Colorado (Texas v. New Mexico, et al., No. 141, Original, U.S. Sup.).