Water Rights

News & Analysis as of

Pacific Northwest Water Wars

It may come as a surprise that people fight over water in soggy Oregon and Washington. To be sure, we have not experienced the same level of conflict over competing water needs as our neighbors in the southwest, but in fact...more

State of Alaska Continues Slow Progress in Adjudicating Instream Flow Water Rights

The State of Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) continued its slow and steady progress to issue the first instream flow water right to a non-governmental organization with a February 18, 2015 notice requesting...more

California Environmental Law & Policy Update - February 2015 #2

Environmental and Policy Focus: State Water Board launches investigation into claims of senior water rights - Allen Matkins - Feb 9: On February 4, 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board issued an order seeking...more

State Water Board Launches Investigation Into Claims of Senior Water Rights

Action Required - Parties identified on Attachment A of the State Water Board's Order must provide the requested information no later than March 6, 2015, or face potential enforcement actions. ...more

State Board Issues Notice of Potential Curtailment of Surface Water Rights Diversions

Recent Rainfall Not Enough to Stop Drought Emergency Measures - Despite some rainfall and the temporary lifting of certain 2014 surface water curtailment notices during the fall, the drought emergency in California...more

Brownstein’s Annual Water Rights Compliance Checklist for 2015

This checklist provides a summary of state water right reporting requirements and applicable deadlines for users of surface or groundwater in California. If you have questions about the information contained in this...more

High Court Denies Petition by Parties with Reclamation Contracts Seeking to Avoid ESA Consultation

On November 17, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari filed by Glenn Colusa Irrigation District and others seeking to overturn a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit...more

California Environmental Law and Policy Update - August 2014 #4

Environmental and Policy Focus - State Lands Commission files suit to overturn S.F.'s Prop. B: SFGate.com - Jul 15: The State Lands Commission filed suit Tuesday to overturn San Francisco's voter-approved limits on...more

Alaska Department of Natural Resources Seeks Comment on Precedent-Setting Instream Flow Water Right

Instream flow rights can be controversial among consumptive water users because they decrease the legally available supply of water for other uses that may arise in the future. Conversely, instream flow rights are often...more

Recent Ninth Circuit ESA Decision May Be Headed to the U.S. Supreme Court

On July 14, Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District (GCID) filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking review of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District v. Natural Resources...more

Fifth District Upholds CEQA Exemptions For Ongoing Pre-CEQA Projects And Continued Operation of Existing Facilities To Reject...

In a July 3, 2014 published decision more notable for the practical importance of the water rights involved than the CEQA law applied, the Fifth District Court of Appeal rejected the CEQA challenges of various environmental...more

Rural Nevada Anti-Fracking Group Seeks to Enjoin Oil and Gas Lease Sale

Reese River Basin Citizens Against Fracking filed a complaint in federal court on June 27, seeking to enjoin the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from holding an oil and gas lease sale. The rural group is...more

State Water Board Approves Emergency Regulations Regarding Curtailment Orders

On July 2, the State Water Resources Control Board (“Water Board”) approved emergency regulations authorizing it to issue immediately enforceable curtailment orders to holders of surface water rights in California. ...more

First District Court of Appeal Holds State Water Board May Restrict Beneficial Water Use by Senior Water Rights Holders, Relying...

Most Californians are well aware of the restrictions currently being placed on water use throughout the state. The ongoing drought and dwindling water supplies in California are dramatically affecting those with rights to...more

The Water Values Podcast - How Can We Resolve Water Conflicts?  [Video]

How Can We Resolve Water Conflicts? With Professor Neil Grigg, River Master of the Pecos River Professor Neil Grigg of Colorado State University and the River Master of the Pecos River joins The Water Values Podcast this...more

Broad Duty To Consult Is New Norm Under ESA In 9th Circ.

Recently, the Ninth Circuit sitting en banc issued a landmark decision regarding the consultation provisions of the Endangered Species Act. The consultation provisions require any federal agency that authorizes, funds or...more

En Banc Ninth Circuit Holds ESA Consultation Requirement Applies to Renewal of Long-Term Water Contracts

In a unanimous decision, eleven active judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the duty to consult under section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when a federal agency action...more

Square Pegs in Round Holes

The Western states face two reciprocating and overarching problems in water resources policy. First, water is an increasingly scarce resource facing sharply competitive needs. Climate change is projected to put even more...more

Associated Press “Investigation” Confirms Safety of Gas Drilling

Despite claims to the contrary, the recently released AP “investigation” proves that drilling for natural gas or oil has an excellent safety record. Moreover, it’s getting better, especially in Pennsylvania. Let’s first...more

Washington State Supreme Court Issues Landmark Ruling: “Overriding Considerations Of The Public Interest” Do Not Justify...

On October 3, 2013, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v. Wash. Dept. of Ecology (No. 87672-0, Wash. Oct. 3, 2013) that the Department of Ecology exceeded its authority by applying...more

Hydraulic Fracking and the Battle Over Beneficial Water Use in California: The Next Phase of Fracking Litigation in California

The competition between agriculture, energy, domestic and environmental interests for water in California is fierce and is about to become more contentious. In a “wet year,” the demand for water from these interests may...more

Pa. Litigation Update

This summer was anything but a sleepy period for decisions from Pennsylvania courts on issues important to the oil and gas industry. Here are summaries of four cases issued in July and August - one from the Third Circuit...more

Florida to Sue Georgia Over Impact To Apalachicola Bay

Earlier this month, the State of Florida announced it will be filing a lawsuit in September in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to limit Georgia’s consumption of water from the Chattahoochee and Flint River Basins through an...more

Quench My Thirst: Water Rights in the Context of Water Treatment Technologies

Introduction - •35,000 wells hydraulically fractured in the U.S.Annually •Over one million wells have been hydraulically fractured since its introduction in the 1940s •90% of all wells drilled in the U.S....more

The Farm and FY14 Energy and Water Development Bills – ML Strategies Weekly Energy and Environmental Update

Immigration, student loans, the budget, and the Farm bill, are the top four issues that Congress will consider before the August recess. That being said, President Obama’s recent climate change strategy release ensures that...more

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