Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of Indians v. Nevada

Jul 30: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 11-16470, 11-16475 & 11-16482. Appealed from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada. The Appeals Court explains and summarizes that, "Almost from the time that explorers John C. Frémont and Kit Carson first came upon the Truckee River and Pyramid Lake, disputes have arisen about water rights. In this latest chapter in a hundred-year litigation history, see Nevada v. United States, 463 U.S. 110, 113 (1983) (summarizing history), we consider whether diverting water to wetlands in order to sustain wildlife habitat constitutes 'irrigation.' We conclude that, within the meaning of the federal court decree governing water rights in the Newlands Reclamation Project, it does not, and we affirm the judgment of the district court."
    In this localized dispute over water rights controlled by the so-called "Alpine Decree", the Appeals Court concludes, ". . .we agree with the district court that the State Engineer's approval of the applications to transfer the non-consumptive use portion of the Applicants' water rights violated Administrative Provision VII of the Alpine Decree because the applications seek a change in the manner of use to a non-irrigation purpose. While we recognize the salutary purpose to which the Applicants wish to apply water at Carson Lake and Pasture, they may not do so in contravention of the express limitation on transfers of water rights articulated in the Alpine Decree. In sum, the district court correctly concluded that diversion of water for waterfowl habitat is not 'irrigation' within the meaning of the Alpine decree. We affirm the judgment of the district court."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Water, #CA9]

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