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August 27, 2015

Court Denies Water Agencies’ Restraining Order Request

Yesterday, the United States Eastern District Court of California ruled against two water districts that requested a temporary restraining order to prevent 88,000 acre-feet of water from being flushed into the Pacific Ocean. The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA) and Westlands Water District (WWD) filed the request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) following an announcement by the Bureau of Reclamation to release water from Trinity Reservoir to protect Klamath River salmon.

Similar to a ruling he made last year, the judge denied the TRO saying he thought it was unlikely the agencies would win their case, an essential element to granting a restraining order, and added the protection of the salmon outweighed the needs of farmers.

During the four years of this drought, more than 200,000 acre-feet of water have been released to the ocean for fishery purposes. The 88,000 acre- feet being released this year (28 billion gallons) is enough to provide water to more than 175 families for one year.    

Five water agencies, including SLDMWA and WWD, issued a press release bemoaning the ruling saying in part, “At a time when record fallowing of agricultural land is on the rise, community wells are drying up, and more than 95 percent of the State is experiencing drought conditions, today’s decision is one more disappointment from achieving a reasonable balance for all Californians who depend upon a reliable water supply.”