FRESNO, Calif. — A California appeals court on July 9 affirmed that an environmental group’s effort to get a reservoir in Yosemite National Park torn down is preempted by federal law and that the statute’s savings clause does not allow the effort to be rescued by state water law (Restore Hetch Hetchy v. San Francisco, et al., No. F074107, Calif. App., 5th Dist.).
LOS ANGELES — The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWDSC) on July 10 took a new vote to supply $10.8 billion to fully fund the California WaterFix project.
LAS VEGAS — A Nevada federal judge on July 3 denied a motion by a rancher to stay the United States’ collection of a $587,294 judgement for unauthorized grazing of cattle on federal land (United States v. Wayne N. Hage, et al., No. 07-1154, D. Nev., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110689).
PHOENIX — An Arizona state appeals court panel on July 3 said three water users cannot appeal an administrative law judge’s finding that their water rights are not adversely affected by the state’s issuance of water permits to another water user’s group (Paloma Irrigation & Drainage District v. Salt River Valley Water Users’ Association, No. CA-CV-17-0215, Ariz. App., Div. 1, 2018 Ariz. App. Unpub. LEXIS 966).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A special master overseeing a longstanding water rights dispute between Florida and Georgia employed “too strict a standard” when determining that Florida must show by clear and convincing evidence that an appropriate equitable decree is possible, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 27 (Florida v. Georgia, No. 142 Original, U.S. Sup.).
BISMARCK, N.D. — Fifteen business and agricultural associations on June 12 filed an amicus curiae brief in a North Dakota federal court in support of a motion by 14 states for summary judgment against the Clean Water Rule (North Dakota, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 15-59, D. N.D.).
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.).