Writings and observations

Water Digest – March 13

Water rights weekly report for January 9. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on March 7 held that federal implied reserved groundwater rights can be claimed by an Indian Tribe – in this case, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. In Agua Caliente Band v. Coachella Valley Water District, the court said “the Tribe has a reserved right to groundwater underlying its reservation as a result of the purpose for which the reservation was established.”

The Nebraska Supreme Court on March 10 held that the Republican River Compact is in effect federal law and therefore supersedes state water right law – and thereby denying a water right claim from within the state. In Greg Hill v. Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, the Nebraska high court said “We find that the Compact, as federal law, supersedes the appropriators’ property interests. We further find that the DNR does not have a duty to regulate ground water; thus, a failure by the DNR to regulate ground water pumping that affects the Basin does not give rise to a cause of action for inverse condemnation.”

The Black Hills Energy electric utility on March 7 formally gave the city of Pueblo, Colorado, and its utility Pueblo Water, its local rights on the Arkansas River, and the diversion infrastructure and equipment needed to access it.

A new film airing on the National Geographic channel on March 14, “Water & Power: A California Heist”, reviews groundwater use in the state and, as a public television channel said. “looks at how heedless groundwater tapping and secret deals over water rights put California’s water supply in peril.”

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