San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority v. Haugrud, No. 14-17493 (9th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
This case involves a challenge to the Bureau of Reclamation's (BOR) release of Trinity River water from the Lewiston Dam, above and beyond the amount designated in the applicable water release schedule. The Water Contractors filed an amended complaint, alleging that the Federal Defendants violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 16 U.S.C. 1531; the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321; the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) section 3411(a) and 43 U.S.C. 383; and CVPIA section 3406(b)(23). The district court granted summary judgment for the Federal Defendants. The court concluded that the broad language of the Act of August 12, 1955 (the 1955 Act) authorized BOR to implement the 2013 flow augmentation release—an appropriate measure—to protect fish downstream from the Lewiston Dam, which includes the lower Klamath River; subsequent legislation did not clearly alter or limit the expansive scope of the authority granted by the 1955 Act; and because the BOR acted within its statutory authority, the court reversed as to this issue. The court concluded that, because the BOR intended to aid the lower Klamath River (and not the Trinity River) in implementing the 2013 flow augmentation release, the release did not violate section 3406(b)(23). The court also concluded that the Water Contractors have failed to establish standing to pursue a claim under the ESA. Finally, the BOR neither violated California water law nor the Reclamation Act in implementing the 2013 flow augmentation release, and thus the BOR did not violate section 3411(a). Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part.