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Water Blog

  • 16
  • October
  • 2015

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Texas Supreme Court Denies Review of a Water Well Damage Dispute

On September 25, the Supreme Court of Texas denied a petition for review filed by Canadian River Municipal Water Authority. Canadian argued that property owner Hayhook Ltd. could not file suit to enforce a settlement agreement between the parties, and sought reversal of a ruling by the Seventh Court of Appeals that held that governmental immunity cannot be invoked to evade enforcement of a settlement agreement that covers claims for which immunity had been waived. 

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  • 14
  • October
  • 2015

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Federal Judicial Panel Rules against Consolidating Challenges to the WOTUS Rule

After the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers issued their final rule defining the “waters of the United States” (“WOTUS rule”) under the Clean Water Act, nine separate suits were filed in seven district courts nationwide. These suits allege that the WOTUS rule is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution, the Clean Water Act, the Administrative Procedural Act, and other federal laws.

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  • 24
  • September
  • 2015

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Long-Awaited Resolution of the Conflict over the Marvin Nichols Reservoir (Possibly)

On September 9, 2015, the Texas Water Development Board (“TWDB” or the “Board”) voted unanimously that an “interregional conflict” existed between the Region C Regional Water Planning Area (“Region C”) and Region D Regional Water Planning Area (“Region D”) initially proposed regional water plans (“IPPs”) for 2016, triggering third-party mediation, which the Board ordered to begin on or before October 5, 2015. 

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Accommodating Another Wrinkle in Texas Water Law? – Coyote Lake Ranch LLC v. Lubbock

On October 14, 2015, the Texas Supreme Court is set to hear a water rights case that could shake up water law in Texas. The Texas high court has agreed to hear Coyote Lake Ranch LLC v. Lubbock, a case in which the plaintiff‑ranch argues that the accommodation doctrine should apply to restrict the City of Lubbock from drilling 80 water wells on the property because it would unreasonably disrupt its existing ranching activities.

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Colorado's Interbasin Compact Committee Releases "Seven Points" for Negotiating New Transmountain Diversions: A New Paradigm or Potential Impediment to Mega Projects?

A long-standing controversy in Colorado involves the diversion of water supplies from the Colorado River System for use by cities and farms on the Front Range. The second draft of Colorado’s Water Plan, released last month, includes a revised “conceptual framework” for future negotiations over development of new transmountain diversions (TMDs).

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Texas Legislature Authorizes New Public-Private Partnership Center

Legislation passed by the Texas Legislature may catalyze more private investment in water infrastructure across the Lone Star State. House Bill 2475, signed into law by Governor Abbott on June 19, establishes a new “center for alternative finance and procurement” that will assist government entities in selecting public-private partnership projects for nearly any type of public infrastructure. The law will take effect on September 1, 2015.

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Supreme Court Grants Review in Interstate Groundwater Dispute

Water wars will return to the Supreme Court next term, this time in a lawsuit brought by the State of Mississippi against the State of Tennessee. On Monday, June 29, the Court agreed to review a claim by Mississippi that the City of Memphis and its water utility, backed by the state of Tennessee, are illegally pumping water from the Sparta-Memphis Aquifer on Mississippi’s side of the state line.

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Sixth Circuit Extends Permit Shield Test to General Permits

On January 27, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held in Sierra Club v. ICG Hazard that the defendant’s compliance with the terms of its Clean Water Act (CWA) general permit “shielded” the company from citizen suit enforcement. It is the first case to extend the so-called Piney Run test for permit shield applicability to general permits, rather than individual permits.

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  • 22
  • January
  • 2015

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Despite Reluctance in Some Regions, EPA Eager to Use State Revolving Loan Funds for Nonpoint Sources of Water Pollution

Since 1988, only $4.3 billion, or just over 4 percent, of total Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds (CWSRF) has been used to address nonpoint sources of water pollution, such as stormwater runoff from urban areas. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is eager for states and municipalities to take advantage of these funds for such projects. 

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  • 21
  • November
  • 2014

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Ninth Circuit Narrows CWA “Shield” for Non-Stormwater Discharges

On October 31, 2014, the Ninth Circuit declined to rehear Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) v. Aurora Energy Services, LLC. The Ninth Circuit decided that case on September 3, 2014, holding that the district court erred when it found that the Multi-Sector General Permit (“MSGP”) for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity “shielded” Aurora from liability for non-stormwater coal discharges.

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  • 26
  • September
  • 2014

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New Studies Show No Link Between Hydraulic Fracturing and Groundwater Contamination

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found no evidence that fracturing shale causes groundwater contamination. A team of researchers from Ohio State University, Duke University, and the University of Rochester analyzed hydrocarbon and noble gas isotopes in groundwater near the Marcellus and Barnett shale formations to trace the source of 133 reported cases of contamination.

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