SALEM, Ore. — An Oregon state court judge on July 30 ordered the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) to stop releasing stored water from Upper Klamath Lake Reservoir without determining that the release is for a permitted purpose by users with an established right, license or permit (Klamath Irrigation District v. Oregon Water Resources Department, et al., No. 20-cv-179922, Ore. Cir., Marion Co.).
HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Supreme Court on Aug. 4 ruled that a deed covenant for a subdivision cannot be read to restrain exercise of a water right (Elk Grove Development Company v. Four Corners County Water and Sewer District, et al., No. DA 19-0599, Mont. Sup., 2020 Mont. LEXIS 2156).
OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Supreme Court on Aug. 6 ruled that the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has authority under state law to set minimum instream flows for rivers and streams and that the state properly promulgated a rule setting a summertime minimum instream flow rate for the Spokane River (Center for Environmental Law and Policy, et al. v. Washington, et al., No. 97684-8, Wash. Sup., 2020 Wash. LEXIS 434).
TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington man's fourth bite at the apple in challenging an Indian tribe's use of a lake in a national park ended in a loss like the first three when a federal judge in the state on July 29 dismissed his taking claims against the tribe and the United States for lack of jurisdiction due to sovereign immunity (Thomas G. Landreth v. United States, et al., No. 20-5333, W.D. Wash., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134571).
SAN DIEGO — California's Fourth District Court of Appeal on July 16 said an irrigation district has an equitable and beneficial interest in its water rights that consist of a right to water service and the discretion to distribute water equitably to all water users (Michael Abatti, et al. v. Imperial Irrigation District, No. D072850, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 1, 2020 Cal. App. LEXIS 663).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A California federal judge on July 8 said that although the deadline for a Native American tribe to amend its complaint against two water districts has passed, it can amend its remaining claim concerning underground pore space and can assert new grounds for the tribe’s standing (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District, et al., No. 13-883, C.D. Calif.).
OAKLAND, Calif. — A news organization and one of its reporters on July 2 filed a complaint asking a California federal court to find that the U.S. Department of Interior has violated the federal Freedom of Information Act and to order the agency to immediately release records about a “secret” 2018 meeting between one of its representatives and California water officials regarding California water issues (The Center for Investigative Reporting, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, No. 20-4427, N.D. Calif., Oakland Div.).
FARGO, N.D. — A North Dakota federal magistrate judge on June 24 granted an unopposed motion by 11 states to extend a stay of their case challenging the 2015 Clean Water Rule in case the Trump Administration’s 2020 Rule is vacated and the 2015 Rule reinstated (State of North Dakota, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 15-59, D. N.D.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Five environmental groups on June 25 asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to declare that the 2020 Clean Water Rule is arbitrary and capricious and in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S. Code. ch. 5, subch. I § 500 et seq. (Environmental Integrity Project, et al. v. Andrew Wheeler, et al., No. 20-1743, D. D.C.).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 26 granted an unopposed motion to expedite the United States’ appeal of a preliminary injunction against the 2020 Clean Water Rule as it applies to Colorado (Colorado v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 20-1238, 10th Cir.).
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Court of Appeals on June 11 affirmed a trial court ruling that the buyer of a water share from a water company is a “protected purchaser” and that the lower court did not err in ruling against a developer who sought to void the share when it bought the accompanying property (Black Diamond Financial LLC v. Big Cottonwood Pine Tree Water Company, et al., No. 20190237-CA, Utah App., 2020 Utah App. LEXIS 93).
FRESNO, Calif. — A California federal judge on June 24 denied a motion by six environmental groups for a preliminary injunction preventing three federal agencies from using revised biological opinions (BiOps) to decide how to operate two water projects in and around the Shasta Dam (Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, et al. v. Wilbur Ross, et al., No. 20-431, E.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111732).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The United States on June 23 opposed a motion by a cattlemen’s association to issue an injunction against the 2020 Clean Water Rule, saying the new rule is well-reasoned and hews to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Clean Water Act (New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 19-988, D. N.M.).
Seven Native American tribes on June 22 sued the United States in two federal courts, seeking to reinstate the 2015 Clean Water Rule (Navajo Nation v. Andrew Wheeler, et al., No. 20-602, D. N.M, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 20-266, D. Ariz., Tucson).
SEATTLE — Four environmental groups in a June 22 complaint ask a Washington federal court to vacate the 2020 Clean Water Rule and to reinstate the 2015 Clean Water Rule (Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 20-950, W.D. Wash., Seattle).
New developments in the following multiplaintiff, interstate or notable water rights cases are marked in boldface type.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A U.S. Supreme Court special master on June 25 appointed retired federal Judge Oliver W. Wanger to serve as mediator in an interstate water dispute between Texas and New Mexico and Colorado (Texas v. New Mexico, et al., No. 141, Original, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States on July 6 told the U.S. Supreme Court that it supports a special master's recommendation not to grant Florida's request for equitable apportionment of water underlying it and neighboring Georgia (Florida v. Georgia, No. 142, Original, U.S. Sup.).
SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Court of Appeals on June 10 affirmed a trial court ruling that a hydroelectric water right had not converted to an in-stream water right after a power plant stopped making electricity (WaterWatch of Oregon v. Water Resources Department, et al., No. 279, Ore. App., 2018 Ore. App. LEXIS 1652).
SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal judge on June 19 denied a motion by 17 states, the District of Columbia, New York City and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality for a nationwide injunction preventing the Trump administration’s 2020 Clean Water Rule from going into effect on June 22 (California, et al. v. Andrew Wheeler, et al., No. 10-3005, N.D. Calif.).