Today, 17 Central Valley water agencies and the City of Fresno filed a claim for damages from the federal Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) over water deliveries in 2014. All parties to the claim are water contractors in the Friant Division of the Central Valley Project (CVP). The claim seeks to recover the fair market value of Friant Division water not delivered to the contractors.
In the claim, which was filed in the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., the plaintiffs allege that in 2014 sufficient San Joaquin River water was available in storage in
Millerton Lake to meet the needs of the Friant Division contractors, but Reclamation elected not to provide Friant Division contractors an allocation of water that year. This decision resulted in significant losses of annual and permanent crops and the removal of orchards, substantial groundwater depletion, and emergency measures taken to serve the farms and urban areas that rely on water supplied under Friant Division water contracts.
“Throughout the CVP’s 70-plus years in operation, water in Millerton Lake has always been
made available for the Friant Division —especially in years when stored water was available, like in 2014. This was an unprecedented action by Reclamation that had significant consequences to those dependent on Millerton Lake water,” said Craig Parton, an attorney representing the group.
“The City and Districts in the Friant Division have been working with Reclamation on this matter for the last few years, and ideally the issues raised in this litigation would have been
resolved through those discussions, but were not,” said Parton. “We view this litigation as part of a process to ensure that in future yeaxs the Federal government appropriately meets its legal and contractual obligations to all of its contractors —within the Friant Division and. others alike.”
The plaintiffs are: City of Fresno, Arvin-Edison Water Storage District, Chowchilla Water District, Delano-Earlimart Water District, Exeter Irrigation District, Ivanhoe Irrigation District, Lindmore Irrigation District, Lindsay-Strathmore Irrigation District, Lower Tule River Irrigation District, Orange Cove Irrigation District, Porterville Irrigation District, Saucelito Irrigation District, Shaffer-Wasco Irrigation District, Southern San Joaquin Municipal Utility District, Stone Corral Irrigation District, Tea Pot Dome Water District, Terra Bella Irrigation District, and Tulare Irrigation District.
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