TWIN FALLS, Idaho — An Idaho state court judge on Oct. 26 scheduled a commencement hearing on Jan. 21 for the state’s petition to commence an adjudication of water rights in the Clark Fork-Pond Oreille river basin water system (In Re: The General Adjudication of Rights to the Use of Water from the Clark Fork-Pond Oreille River Basin Water System, No. 69576, Idaho Dist., 5th Dist., Twin Falls Co.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s Sacramento County on Oct. 2 told the Third District Court of Appeal that it should reverse summary judgment against the county in its effort to force the California Department of Water Resources to obtain county well drilling permits for the state’s Delta Conveyance Project (formerly the California WaterFix) (Sacramento v. California Department of Water Resources, No. C092087, Calif. App., 3rd Dist., 2020 CA App. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 5612).
SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Water Resources Department on Oct. 20 filed a notice of appeal of an Oct. 13 circuit court order barring the department from using or releasing stored water from Upper Klamath Lake without determining whether releases are permitted by users with existing water rights of record or with determined claims to use the stored water (Klamath Irrigation District v. Oregon Water Resources Department, et al., No. CA A174754, Ore. App.).
EL PASO, Texas — In a 2-1 ruling, a Texas state appeals court on Oct. 30 denied mandamus relief for a tank farm against a trial court ruling allowing a groundwater exploration company to drill seven test holes on the tank farm (In re Plains Pipeline, L.P., No. 08-19-00224-CV, Texas App., 8th Dist., El Paso, 2020 Tex. App. LEXIS 8546).
LOS ANGELES — The California Supreme Court on Oct. 28 denied farmer Michael Abatti’s petition to review an appellate court ruling that farmers served by the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) have an interest in the district’s water rights but don’t have water rights themselves (Michael Abatti, et al. v. Imperial Irrigation District, No. S2664093, Calif. Sup.).
LONDON, Ky. — A special master on Nov. 5 told the U.S. Supreme Court that an aquifer under both Tennessee and Mississippi is an interstate resource and recommended that the high court dismiss Mississippi’s lawsuit against Tennessee with leave to file an amended complaint seeking equitable apportionment of the groundwater (Mississippi v. Tennessee, et al., No. 143, Orig., U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 2 granted a conditional motion by Texas for review of a river master’s 2020 determination of water credits for New Mexico (Texas v. New Mexico, No. 65, Orig., U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 26 ruled that the United States had not waived its sovereign immunity under the McCarran Amendment in litigation involving groundwater rights in California’s Santa Maria Valley (San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 19-16655, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 33650).
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Oct. 6 reversed summary judgment in a case involving a water permit for a fracking operation, finding that notifying neighbors whose land abuts a source lake by publishing a notice in a low-circulation newspaper is constitutionally inadequate for due process (Betty Sue Adams Purcell, et al. v. Todd A. Parker, et al., No. 118328, Okla. Sup., 2020 Okla. LEXIS 92).
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court on Oct. 15 reversed a trial court’s determination that a water company’s pumping from a well interfered with two neighboring wells, finding that the trial court’s findings were insufficient (Robert B. Arave, et al. v. Pineview West Water Company, No. 20180067, Utah Sup., 2020 Utah LEXIS 181).
LOS ANGELES — California’s Imperial Irrigation District (IID) on Sept. 14 told the state Supreme Court that it should not grant review of an appellate court ruling that farmers served by the district have an interest in its water rights but don’t have water rights themselves (Michael Abatti, et al. v. Imperial Irrigation District, No. S264093, Calif. Sup.).
LOS ANGELES — An advocacy group on Sept. 9 told a California appeals court that it is not opposing a tax or fee but is instead challenging the legal propriety of an authorization of bonded indebtedness by water agencies to eventually fund a multibillion-dollar water project formerly known as the California WaterFix (Food and Water Watch and Center for Food Safety v. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, et al., No. B297553, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., 2020 CA App. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 5224).
SALEM, Ore. — Forty-five Oregon water rights holders on Sept. 22 petitioned the state Supreme Court for a peremptory or alternative writ of mandamus directing a court to comply with state civil and evidentiary law in its adjudication of the Klamath River Basin (In Re Waters of the Klamath River Basin, No. S067998, Ore. Sup.).
CARSON CITY, Nev. — In a split decision, the Nevada Supreme Court on Sept. 17 ruled that the public trust doctrine as implemented in the state's comprehensive water statutes does not permit the reallocation of water rights that have already been adjudicated and settled under the doctrine of prior appropriation (Mineral County, et al. v. Lyon County, et al., No. 75917, Nev. Sup., 2020 Nev. LEXIS 56).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Metropolitan) on Sept. 11 notified a California trial court that it will appeal the court’s $44.37 million judgment in Metropolitan’s water supply charge litigation with the San Diego Water Authority (San Diego) (San Diego County Water Authority v. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, et al., No. CPF-10-610830, Calif. Super., San Francisco Co.).
New developments in the following multiplaintiff, interstate or notable water rights cases are marked in boldface type.
RENO, Nev. — A Nevada federal judge on Oct. 1 issued guidance on the types of water compensation the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District (TCID) is liable for to settle its 20-year debt for wrongful diversion of water from the Truckee River (United States v. Truckee-Carson Irrigation District, et al., No. 95-757, D. Nev., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181643).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Texas Solicitor General Kyle D. Hawkins on Oct. 5 faced questions by the eight U.S. Supreme Court justices during a virtual hearing about why the court should find that a court-appointed river master's decision on giving New Mexico credits for evaporated reservoir water violated the Rio Grande Compact among the two states and was contrary to the formulas laid out in the river master's manual (Texas v. New Mexico, et al., No. 141, Original, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 5 said in its first orders list of the new term that arguments in an interstate water dispute between Florida and Georgia “are set for oral argument in due course” (Florida v. Georgia, No. 142, Original, U.S. Sup.).
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A Montana federal judge on Sept. 25 declared that William Perry Pendley has unlawfully served as acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the past 425 days and wants a list of what actions by Pendley need to be set aside (Steve Bullock, et al. v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 20-62, D. Mont., Great Falls Div., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177029).