State Water Resources Control Board and the California Department of Water Resources Weigh in on Area of Origin Debate

On June 5, 2012, the State Water Resources Control Board (“SWRCB”) and the California Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) filed a brief as amici curiae in support of affirmance of the district court in the pending Ninth Circuit appeal of Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority v. U.S. Department of Interior, et al., Case No. 11-17199.

As we previously reported (here, here, and here), the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California ruled in August 2011 that water users in the Sacramento Valley have no preferential right to delivery of Central Valley Project water under California’s so-called “area of origin” laws.

In the amicus curiae brief, DWR and the SWRCB make the following concluding remarks:

It is undisputed that the Tehama-Colusa agreed to a water delivery contract with the Bureau that imposed a pro-rata shortage provision and did not recognize any preference based on California’s Area-of-Origin Statute.  It is also undisputed that Appellant did not try to obtain a water right from the SWRCB, even if Appellant believes it had an Area-of-Origin priority by virtue of its contract with the Bureau. These facts alone are sufficient to affirm the district court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of the United States.

Appellant Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority must file its final appellate brief in Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority v. U.S. Department of Interior, et al., by June 28, 2012.  Oral argument will be scheduled following the completion of briefing.

If you have any questions concerning this topic, please contact Daniel J. O'Hanlon, Hanspeter Walter, or Rebecca R. Akroyd from our office, or the KMTG attorney with whom you normally consult.