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Victory in Santa Maria Groundwater Adjudication

Los Angeles, CA (February 12, 2008) - Conflicts over water rights in California continue to heat up and are likely to remain on the rise as this precious resource becomes increasingly limited. Fortunately, one battle that began over 10 years ago has finally ended. On January 25th, 2008 the Santa Maria Valley groundwater adjudication Judgment was signed by Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Jack Komar. Earning a complete victory in the case are the four "Northern Cities" - Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach, Grover Beach and the Oceano Community Services District - all represented by Nossaman’s Water Law Practice Group. The final judgment in the case has now been posted to the court’s website and can be found using the following link, Santa Maria groundwater adjudication final judgment.

"Although the four Northern Cities were dragged into this litigation by a group of aggressive landowners in the Santa Maria Valley and Nipomo Mesa, our cities have emerged victorious," said Nossaman attorney Henry Weinstock. "First, we defeated the landowners' claims that their water rights are superior to our Cities' rights; Judge Komar dismissed all of the non-settling landowners' causes of action asserted against our cities and the other purveyors - causes of action which sought quiet title relief, injunctions, damages, declarations of their superior water rights, and their water storage claims. Second, we prevailed on our cross-claims against them, obtaining declaratory relief of our Cities' superior rights and a physical solution."

The case began with more than 1,000 involved parties, 750 of whom agreed to a settlement in July 2005. An estimated 70 landowners fought the settlement agreement. According to the judgment, "the Northern Cities have a prior and paramount right to produce 7,300 acre-feet of water per year from the Northern Cities Area of the Basin; and the Non-Stipulating Parties [the landowners who refused to settle] have no overlying, appropriative, or other right to produce any water supplies in the Northern Cities Area of the Basin."

As is typical in groundwater adjudications, Judge Komar is retaining "continuing jurisdiction" to enforce the Settlement Stipulation, including the groundwater monitoring and reporting programs, to protect the basin from future harm and to resolve future disputes.

Please use the following link for more information on Nossaman’s involvement in the Santa Maria groundwater adjudication.

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