[env-trinity] Chico ER: U.S. Ninth Circuit Court denies canal claim

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Tue Jul 16 14:39:18 PDT 2013


U.S. Ninth Circuit Court denies canal claim
Daily News
Posted: 07/15/2013 08:47:45 AM PDT
RED BLUFF — The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a blow July 1 to the Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority in
its efforts to have the Bureau of Reclamation respect area of origin protections for local water contractors.
The Court of Appeals affirmed a decision by the Eastern District Court that ruled in favor of the US Department of the
Interior in a case stemming from the Bureau of Reclamation reducing water deliveries to TCCA members in recent
drought years.
TCCA General Manager Jeff Sutton said the decision was disappointing and that the ruling breaks promises authority
members were given regarding local resources when the Central Valley Project was enacted.
"We'll continue to suffer shortages during times when they're still exporting water outside," Sutton said.
The TCCA board is reviewing the decision.
The Bureau of Reclamation reduced water deliveries to the TCCA's 16 water agency members during the drought
years of 2008 and 2009.
Deliveries were reduced to 40 percent of contract supplies for agricultural water and 75 percent for municipal and
industrial water in those years.
Water was also cut to users south of the Delta.
In its suit, the TCCA argued area of origin protections in the California Water Code required the Bureau of Reclamation
to fulfill local distribution before exporting water outside the water basin.
The courts' decision said those rights along with priority distribution were not included in a series of contracts
beginning in the 1960s between TCCA members and
the Bureau of Reclamation.
Those contracts had been renewed in 1995 and
During negotiations, the Bureau steadfastly rebuffed
efforts to include terms that would provide priority in
shortage periods, Judge Johnnie Rawlinson wrote in
the court's opinion.
When the Canal Authority and its members signed
the renewal contracts, there was absolutely no
misunderstanding of the Bureau's position regarding
area of origin protection, priority rights or shortage
Rawlinson's decision says area of origin statues help
determine the total quantity of water available for
allocation, but in no way controls how the water
should be allocated by the Bureau of Reclamation
once acquired.
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