May 9, 2023

Mojave Pistachios Gains Ground on Challenge to Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s Pumping Allocations

In the most recent development, the Fourth Appellate District, Court of Appeal compelled the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) to show cause for why Mojave Pistachios’ petition for writ of mandate to challenge the IWVGA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) should not be granted.

This permission of the writ of mandate is one part of the legal struggle between Mojave and IWVGA that started in 2020 when Mojave filed suit against the IWVGA to oppose IWVGA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP), which gave Mojave zero groundwater allocation.

Western Growers has written a letter of support of Mojave Pistachios’ petition stating, “We believe that the trial court order in this case is contrary to SGMA and undermines the longstanding rights of landowners.” This letter was written to encourage the court to issue the order to show cause in support of the writ petition. The issuance is a notable success given that less than 5% of civil writs are granted and almost none on a demurer ruling.

Groundwater sustainability agencies must be consistent with California groundwater rights law. This decision, if allowed to stand, sets a dangerous precedent by disrupting long-standing common law as it pertains to groundwater rights.  GSPs are expressly deemed to not determine or alter common-law groundwater rights pursuant to state law (Water Code section 10720.5(b).

Read the press release here.