WASHINGTON, D.C. — The chairman of the Blackfeet Nation and the secretary of the Interior on June 12 signed documents implementing the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act of 2016 and the Blackfeet Tribe-Montana-United States Water Compact.
New developments in the following multiplaintiff, interstate or notable water rights cases are marked in boldface type.
CINCINNATI — Tennessee, the city of Memphis and its water department on June 1 filed a motion with a U.S. Supreme Court special master for summary judgment in Mississippi’s interstate groundwater dispute, saying that since Mississippi has renounced a claim for equitable apportionment of water, the aquifer at issue is plainly an interstate aquifer serving several states and not just Mississippi (Mississippi v. Tennessee, et al., No. 143, Original, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Klamath Tribes on May 23 sued three U.S. agencies, alleging that their operation of the Klamath Irrigation Project is endangering two fish species that are crucial to the tribe’s survival and culture (The Klamath Tribes v. United States Bureau of Reclamation, et al., No. 18-3078, N.D. Calif.).
CINCINNATI — Two environmental groups on June 4 asked an Ohio federal court to reconsider allowing them to intervene in a Clean Water Rule case, noting that since the court denied their original motion in 2015, the United States has reversed its position and no longer represents the groups’ support of the rule (Ohio, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 15-2476, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Div.).
BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A Georgia federal judge on June 8 enjoined the 2015 Clean Water Rule from enforcement in 11 states, finding that the states are likely to succeed on their claims that the rule violates the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and that the states could suffer irreparable damage without an injunction (State of Georgia, et al. v. Scott Pruitt, et al., No. 15-79, S.D. Ga., Brunswick Div., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97223).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 22 ruled that a Nevada federal court erred in ruling that a Nevada county lacked standing to intervene for modification of the 1936 Walker River Decree but stayed the case while it asked the Nevada Supreme Court if the public trust doctrine applies to water rights adjudicated under the doctrine of prior appropriation (Mono County, et al. v. Walker River Irrigation District, et al., No. 15-16342, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 13301 and 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 13277).
FRESNO, Calif. — With the parties unable to agree on how to proceed, a California federal judge on June 7 stepped in and vacated federal decisions supporting a federal water transfer program (AquAlliance, et al. v. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, et al., No. 15-754, E.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96235).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 11 affirmed — due to one recusal and an equally divided court — that the state of Washington must correct hundreds of fish-blocking road culverts because they are in violation of more than 150-year-old treaties guaranteeing fishing rights to Native Americans (Washington v. United States, et al., No. 17-269, U.S. Sup.).
NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on May 29 denied a motion by the United States to transfer a Clean Water Rule case to a Texas federal court, where defendants say a similar case has been pending since 2015 (New York, et al. v. E. Scott Pruitt, et al., No. 18-1030, Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 18-1048, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88832).
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) on June 6 said it and two other conservation groups reached a settlement with the U.S. Forest Service to settle the groups’ appeal challenging a 30-year-old permit allowing Nestle Corp. to take water from the San Bernardino National Forest (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. U.S. Forest Services, et al., No. 16-56717, 9th Cir.).
LOS ANGELES — The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWDSC) on June 6 said it will vote again on July 10 on upping its contribution to the California WaterFix project from $4.3 billion to $10.8 billion after a two watchdog groups alleged that the board’s April vote violated California’s open meetings law because some members privately discussed the vote before casting ballots.
SANTA FE, N.M. — A New Mexico federal magistrate judge on June 1 recommended that the court grant judgment to the United States and New Mexico in an ongoing water rights adjudication case after a related water and utility district failed to respond to a motion for judgment (United States v. A&R Products, et al., No. 01-72, D. N.M., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92939).
UVALDE, Texas — A Texas groundwater district on May 22 asked a state court for summary judgment against an aquifer authority, arguing that whatever circumstances the aquifer finds itself in, it lacks the authority to change rules that affect water to the district (Uvalde County Underground Water Conservation District, et al. v. Edwards Aquifer Authority, No. 2018-01-31972, Texas Dist., Uvalde Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A California congressman on May 15 released a draft of the 2019 interior and environment funding bill that includes a section that would prohibit judicial review of California’s WaterFix project.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — A divided South Carolina Supreme Court on May 30 reconsidered plaintiffs’ argument that the state’s water policy for agricultural users violates the public trust doctrine but again found that the plaintiffs lack standing because the harm to public trust has not occurred and is speculative (James Jefferson Jowers Sr., et al. v. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, No. 2016-000428, S.C. Sup.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Six environmental groups on May 25 sued California’s Delta Stewardship Council, alleging that it ignored a 2016 court ruling and approved amendments to the so-called Delta Plan to facilitate twin tunnels for the state’s WaterFix project (Friends of the River, et al. v. Delta Stewardship Council, et al., No. n/a, Calif. Super., Sacramento Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — New Mexico on May 23 filed answers and counterclaims in the U.S. Supreme Court to Texas’ and the United States’ claim that New Mexico is violating the Rio Grande Compact by siphoning water below the Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico (Texas v. New Mexico, et al., No. 141, Original, U.S. Sup.).
ATLANTA — A Georgia federal judge overseeing a lawsuit over use of water in the Allatoona Lake Reservoir on May 23 stayed the case until May 30 after the parties told him that although “the prospects for settlement are not clear,” they planned to meet with a mediator on May 23 (Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 17-400, N.D. Ga., Atlanta Div.).
CINCINNATI — Three states on May 21 asked an Ohio federal court to issue an injunction against the 2015 Clean Water Rule, irrespective of the fact that the current administration has postponed the effective date of the rule and is engaged in the rule-making process for a replacement (Ohio, et al. v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 15-2467, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Div.).