Latest Water War Round Goes to Southern California

Farmers and owners of large tracts of Sacramento Valley land in California lost the latest round its battle to stop export of water to Southern California in a decision Monday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  The court said federal agencies, sued by the Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority, are not required to award priority water rights to Central Valley Project contractors.

The Canal Authority, which is composed of 16 water agency members, sued claiming the Bureau of Land Management’s water shortage allocations failed to adhere to protections provided in the state water code.

The appeals court said the contracts with members of the Canal Authority included the terms for allocating water resources during droughts or periods of water shortage.  The Canal Authority agreed to the terms and have to live by them.

The judges found the bureau’s apportioning of the water was not arbitrary or an abuse of its discretion.

The Canal Authority wanted a ruling limiting the export of water south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta until the Canal Authority and its members received 100 percent of the water supply in their contracts.

During the drought year in 2009, the state declared a water emergency and the Canal Authorities received just 40 percent of their allocations and those south of the Delta received just 10 percent.

Judges Johnnie Rawlinson, Stephen Trott and visiting Judge Frederick Block of the Eastern Dist. of New York, joined in the decision.

Case:  Tehama-ColusaCanal Auth. v. U.S. Dept. of Interior, No. 11-17199