SAN FRANCISCO — Six environmental groups on Dec. 2 sued two cabinet secretaries and four executive brand agencies alleging that they violated the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S. Code. ch. 5, subch. I § 500 et seq., and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 16 U.S. Code, § 1531 et seq., by changing federal biological opinions for political reasons and in ways that will harm endangered river fish in northern California (Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, et al. v. Wilbur Ross, et al., No. 19-7897, N.D. Calif.).
LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Court of Appeals on Dec. 3 reversed a lower court order that would have resulted in a permit for a water pumping station for Nestle Waters Northern America Inc.’s water bottling operation near Evart, Mich. (Nestle Waters North America, Inc. v. Township of Osceola, No. 341881, Mich. App., 2019 Mich. App. LEXIS 7659).
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The Center for Biological Diversity, the Maricopa Audubon Society and the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club on Dec. 3 filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the U.S. Defense Department, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for withdrawing too much water for a fort from the San Pedro River basin and endangering protected species in and around the river basin.
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — A U.S. Supreme Court special master on Dec.3 recommended that the high court deny a motion by so-called pre-federal claimants to intervene in an interstate water lawsuit by Texas against New Mexico and Colorado (Texas v. New Mexico, et al., No. 141, Original, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 9 denied a request for certiorari by two fishing groups over a ruling in favor of an Indian tribe and others that California and Oregon lost their authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to issue water quality certificates for dams awaiting federal license renewal when requests for certification were not fulfilled by the states within one year (California Trout, et al. v. Hoopa Valley Tribe, et al., No. 19-257, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 14 affirmed a Federal Claims Court ruling that federally reserved tribal water rights and compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) did not result in the unconstitutional taking of water from Oregon and California farmers in 2001 when irrigation water deliveries were halted (Lonny E. Baley, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 18-1323 and 18-1325, Fed. Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 33930).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nation’s water quality will suffer drastically if states waive their authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to issue water quality certificates for dams awaiting federal license renewal whenever requests for certification are not fulfilled in a year, as a federal circuit court ruled, two fishing groups argue in a Nov. 6 reply in support of their U.S. Supreme Court petition (California Trout, et al. v. Hoopa Valley Tribe, et al., No. 19-257, U.S. Sup.).
BOSTON — A Massachusetts Land Court judge on Oct. 11 ruled that two towns’ claims to surface water from a pond under an 1884 law were extinguished when the state passed a superseding water management law in 1985 (Town of Concord v. Littleton Water Department, et al., No. 18 Misc. 000596, Mass. Land Ct., 2019 Mass. LCR LEXIS 197).
New developments in the following multiplaintiff, interstate or notable water rights cases are marked in boldface type.
MEDFORD, Ore. — An Oregon federal magistrate judge on Nov. 6 granted a motion by two native American tribes to intervene in two lawsuits involving U.S. Bureau of Reclamation changes to the Klamath water project for the limited purpose of filing a motion to dismiss the cases (Klamath Irrigation District, et al. v. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, et al., Nos. 19-451 and 19-531, D. Ore., Medford Div., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192741).
CARSON CITY, Nev. — The Nevada Supreme Court on Nov. 5 heard arguments about whether the state engineer had authority to deny the drilling of new domestic wells in Pahrump, Nev. (Tim Wilson, P.E., et al. v. Pahrump Fair Water, LLC, et al., No. 77722, Nev. Sup.).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A U.S. Supreme Court special master on Nov. 7 heard arguments in Florida’s interstate water lawsuit against Georgia (Florida v. Georgia, No. 142, Original, U.S. Sup.).
BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Supreme Court on Oct. 28 unanimously affirmed a trial court ruling that the claims by two parties to water rights on a third party’s property are barred by res judicata because they were part of a water basin adjudication (First Security Corporation v. Belle Ranch, LLC, et al., Nos. 46144 and 46147, Idaho Sup., 2019 Ida. LEXIS 193).
Within two days of the publication of the Trump administration’s repeal of the Clean Water Rule, at least two federal lawsuits were filed against the United States to stop the rule or to have pre-rule regulations declared illegal.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Oct. 22 published the Trump administration’s “Repeal Rule” for the 2015 Clean Water Rule finalized under the Obama administration (“Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ — Recodification of Pre-Existing Rules,” 84 Fed. Reg. 56626, Oct. 22, 2019).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 24 referred to a panel both the merits of a Clean Water Rule interlocutory appeal and whether it is moot in light of the latest replacement rule (Oklahoma, ex rel. Mike Hunter, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 19-5055, 10th Cir.).
BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Two environmental groups that intervened as defendants in a Clean Water Rule case on Nov. 4 told a Georgia federal court that it should hold in abeyance motions by the defendant federal plaintiffs, plaintiff states and industry intervenors to declare the case moot in light of the so-called repeal rule (Georgia, et al. v. Andrew R. Wheeler, et al., No. 15-79, S.D. Ga., Brunswick Div.).
INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana county water utility and a town on Oct. 22 told a federal court that they have settled their lawsuit alleging that the town violated the utility’s federal water service right by providing water service to a large commercial development (Brown County Water Utility, Inc. v. Town of Nashville, Indiana, et al., No. 17-2134, S.D. Ind., Indianapolis Div.).
REDDING, Calif. — The California Attorney General’s Office on Nov. 7 settled a lawsuit alleging that the Westlands Water District violated state law by taking the lead in a controversial project to raise the height of the Shasta Dam (California v. Westlands Water District, et al., No. 192487, Calif. Super., Shasta Co.).
HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Supreme Court on Oct. 15 affirmed a district court ruling that a water rights holder has no private right to enforce the Montana Water Use Act, Mont. Code Ann. § 85-2-114 (Lyman Creek, LLC v. City of Bozeman, No. DA 19-0112, Mont. Sup., 2019 Mont. LEXIS 604).