United States v. State of California, Civ. No. S-3014.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
Citation403 F. Supp. 874
Decision Date09 October 1975
Docket NumberCiv. No. S-3014.
PartiesThe UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. The STATE OF CALIFORNIA et al., Defendants.

403 F. Supp. 874

The UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff,
v.
The STATE OF CALIFORNIA et al., Defendants.

Civ. No. S-3014.

United States District Court, E. D. California.

October 9, 1975.


403 F. Supp. 875
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
403 F. Supp. 876
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
403 F. Supp. 877
John H. Germeraad, Douglas N. King, U. S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., Richard Nichols, Asst. U. S. Atty., Sacramento, Cal., for plaintiff

Evelle J. Younger, State Atty. Gen., and Richard C. Jacobs, Roderick E. Walston, San Francisco, Cal., for defendants.

OPINION

MacBRIDE, Chief Judge.

At the turn of the century, a burgeoning nation was in the midst of Western expansion. Hampering this expansion, however, was the simple geographical fact that great areas within the Western states and territories encompassed arid and semiarid lands. By the enactment of the Reclamation Act of 1902, Title 43 U.S.C. ? 371 et seq., Congress concluded that much of these arid and semiarid lands could be made habitable and fruitful by the construction of federally-funded irrigation works.

Now, 73 years, dozens of projects, and billions of dollars later, this court is asked to enter "the delicate area of federal-state relations in the irrigation field,"1 and resolve the question whether a state may impose terms and conditions on the federal government's acquisition of water for reclamation projects.

The United States initiated suit in this court on October 15, 1973, against the State of California, the State Water Resources Control Board, and its members. Jurisdiction was grounded under Title 28 U.S.C. ? 1345, conferring original jurisdiction to the district courts over all civil actions, suits or proceedings commenced by the United States. The amended complaint of the United States seeks declaratory relief pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. ? 2201 as follows:

(1) Declaratory judgment that the United States can appropriate unappropriated water necessary for use in any federal reclamation project within the State of California, without the necessity of applying to the California State Water Resources Control Board;

(2) Declaratory judgment that when the United States chooses as a matter of comity to submit applications to the California State Water Resources Control Board, that Board must grant such applications if unappropriated waters are available;

(3) Declaratory judgment that when the United States chooses as a matter of comity to submit applications to the California State Water Resources Control Board, that Board cannot impose any terms or conditions in permits issued pursuant to such applications in contravention of federal law or which are not specifically authorized and required by federal laws, federal regulations, or federal administrative directives;

(4) Declaratory judgment that Decision 1422,2 an April 4, 1973, decision of the California State Water Resources Control Board, is void in all respects where that decision conflicts with or contravenes federal law or requires action not specifically authorized and required by federal laws, federal regulations, or federal administrative directives.

403 F. Supp. 878

By its answer, California3 raises the following legal issues in response:

(1) The United States is required to comply with all terms and conditions imposed by California on permits issued to the United States Bureau of Reclamation to appropriate water for reclamation purposes in California, pursuant to Section 8 of the Reclamation Act of 1902, 43 U.S.C. ? 383, 32 Stat. 390;4

(2) The United States is required to comply with all terms and conditions imposed by California on permits issued to the United States Bureau of Reclamation to appropriate water for reclamation purposes in California, pursuant to recent environmental legislation passed by Congress, including the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 U.S.C. ? 4321, 83 Stat. 852, and the National Environmental Quality Improvement Act of 1970, 42 U.S.C. ? 4371, 84 Stat. 114;

(3) The United States, by accepting assignments for permit applications and by submitting its own permit applications, has agreed to comply with California law in appropriating water for reclamation purposes in California;

(4) The United States has accepted the benefits of the permits issued by California since 1938, and is thus estopped to deny the truthfulness of the statement that it must comply with all terms and conditions imposed by California's permits;

(5) The United States failed to file mandamus action or to seek judicial review in California of Decision 1422 in accordance with California law, and thus the doctrine of res judicata bars the United States from alleging the invalidity of Decision 1422.

On September 3, 1974, California moved for summary judgment pursuant to FRCP 56 and for judgment on the pleadings in accordance with FRCP 12(c). By these motions, California contends that there is no genuine dispute of any material fact and that the case is purely one of interpretation of federal and California law. The case is here now for disposition on these motions.5 To fully understand the posture of this case and the nature of the questions presented herein, it is necessary to review its immediate history.

HISTORY OF THE CASE

Following the enactment of the Reclamation Act of 1902, Congress from time to time has authorized specific reclamation projects by way of special reclamation acts. One such special project which was eventually authorized by Congress was the Central Valley Project hereafter CVP which envisioned the coordinated development of the Sacramento

403 F. Supp. 879
and San Joaquin Rivers and their tributaries through a system of physical works to regulate and distribute water needed for agricultural, industrial, and municipal uses in the Central Valley of California. The CVP was authorized by the State of California through the Central Valley Project Act of 1933, Cal.Stats. Ch. 1042. California thereafter sought and secured federal assistance through the Rivers and Harbors Act of August 30, 1935, P.L. 74-409, 49 Stat. 1028, 1038; the Act of June 22, 1936, P.L. 74-739, 49 Stat. 1597; and the Rivers and Harbors Act of August 26, 1937, P.L. 75-392, 50 Stat. 844, 850. The Act of October 17, 1940, 54 Stat. 1198 provided in pertinent part as follows
". . . that the entire Central Valley Project, California, . . ., is hereby reauthorized and declared to be for the purposes of improving navigation, regulating the flow of the San Joaquin River and the Sacramento River, controlling floods, providing for storage and for the delivery of the stored waters thereof, for construction under the provisions of the Federal reclamation laws of such distribution systems as the Secretary of the Interior deems necessary in connection with lands for which said stored waters are to be delivered, for the reclamation of arid and semiarid lands and lands of Indian reservations, and other beneficial uses, and for the generation and sale of electric energy as a means of financially aiding and assisting such undertakings and in order to permit the full utilization of the works constructed to accomplish the aforesaid purposes. . . ."

Construction of CVP was begun in 1937 and the initial units of CVP were placed into full coordinated operation in 1951. Speaking of the scope of the project, the Supreme Court of the United States noted in the case of Ivanhoe Irrigation District v. McCracken, 357 U.S. 275, 78 S.Ct. 1174, 2 L.Ed.2d 1313 (1958):

"Central Valley is the largest single undertaking yet embarked upon under the federal reclamation program. It was born in the minds of far-seeing Californians in their endeavor to bring to that State's parched acres a water supply sufficiently permanent to transform them into veritable gardens for the benefit of mankind. Failing in its efforts to finance such a large undertaking, California almost a quarter of a century ago petitioned the United States to join in the enterprise. The Congress approved and adopted the project, pursuant to repeated requests of the State, and thus far has expended nearly a half billion dollars." 357 U.S. at 280, 78 S.Ct. at 1178.

Over the years, water uses increased in the Central Valley and Congress continued to authorize additional units and funds for CVP. One such unit, and the subject matter of the instant case, was the New Melones Project. The New Melones Project was originally authorized by the Flood Control Act of December 22, 1944, P.L. 78-534, 58 Stat. 887, and reauthorized by the Flood Control Act of October 23, 1962, P.L. 87-874, 76 Stat. 1180, 1191. The Flood Control Act of 1962 reads in part as follows:

". . . That upon completion of construction of the dam and power-plant by the Corps of Engineers, the project shall become an integral part of the Central Valley project and be operated and maintained by the Secretary of the Interior pursuant to the Federal reclamation laws . . .."

The New Melones Project provides for a dam on the Stanislaus River, approximately 35 miles northeast of Modesto, California, to create a reservoir with a gross storage capacity of about 2,400,000 acre-feet,6 for flood control, irrigation, municipal, industrial, domestic,

403 F. Supp. 880
power, recreation, water quality control, and fish and wildlife purposes. The New Melones Project provides also for the construction of a 300,000 kilowatt capacity hydro-electric powerplant immediately below the dam

The United States, through the Bureau of Reclamation, Department of the Interior hereafter the Bureau, had regularly applied to the California State Water Resources Control Board hereafter the Board, and its predecessor, in accordance with California law, for permits authorizing appropriations of water. Similarly, the United States, through the Bureau, sought to obtain permits to appropriate unappropriated water from the Stanislaus River for development of the New Melones Project. To this end the Bureau filed with the Board...

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12 practice notes
  • County of Trinity v. Andrus, No. S-77-343-PCW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • October 13, 1977
    ...subject to terms and conditions relating to the control, development, or operation of the project. United States v. State of California, 403 F.Supp. 874, 902-903 (E.D.Cal.1973), aff'd 558 F.2d 1347 (9 Cir. 1977). Thus, when the United States applies to the California State Water Resources C......
  • California v. United States, No. 77-285
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • July 3, 1978
    ...for an appropriation permit, but that the State must issue the permit without condition if there is sufficient unappropriated water. 403 F.Supp. 874 (1975). The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed, but held that § 8 of the Reclamation Act of 1902, 32 Stat. 390, as codified, 43 U......
  • U.S. v. Bell, No. 5
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • August 25, 1986
    ...modification of federal water rights on the basis of state water application procedures. See, e.g., United States v. California, 403 F.Supp. 874 However, in the present case the United States consented to the jurisdiction of the Colorado water courts when it filed the water applications and......
  • Town of Springfield, Vt. v. McCarren, Civ. A. No. 82-157.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. District of Vermont
    • October 15, 1982
    ...is not encrusted with the rigid finality that characterizes the precept in judicial proceedings."). Cf. United States v. California, 403 F.Supp. 874, 900-01 (E.D.Cal.1975), aff'd, 558 F.2d 1347 (9th Cir. 1977), rev'd on other grounds, 438 U.S. 645, 98 S.Ct. 2985, 57 L.Ed.2d 1018 Where a sta......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
12 cases
  • County of Trinity v. Andrus, No. S-77-343-PCW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • October 13, 1977
    ...subject to terms and conditions relating to the control, development, or operation of the project. United States v. State of California, 403 F.Supp. 874, 902-903 (E.D.Cal.1973), aff'd 558 F.2d 1347 (9 Cir. 1977). Thus, when the United States applies to the California State Water Resources C......
  • U.S. v. Bell, No. 5
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • August 25, 1986
    ...modification of federal water rights on the basis of state water application procedures. See, e.g., United States v. California, 403 F.Supp. 874 However, in the present case the United States consented to the jurisdiction of the Colorado water courts when it filed the water applications and......
  • Town of Springfield, Vt. v. McCarren, Civ. A. No. 82-157.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. District of Vermont
    • October 15, 1982
    ...is not encrusted with the rigid finality that characterizes the precept in judicial proceedings."). Cf. United States v. California, 403 F.Supp. 874, 900-01 (E.D.Cal.1975), aff'd, 558 F.2d 1347 (9th Cir. 1977), rev'd on other grounds, 438 U.S. 645, 98 S.Ct. 2985, 57 L.Ed.2d 1018 Where a sta......
  • California v. United States, No. 77-285
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • July 3, 1978
    ...for an appropriation permit, but that the State must issue the permit without condition if there is sufficient unappropriated water. 403 F.Supp. 874 (1975). The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed, but held that § 8 of the Reclamation Act of 1902, 32 Stat. 390, as codified, 43 U......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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