Environmental Law & Policy Alert – Update from Somach Simmons & Dunn

April 17, 2023

Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta Water Districts to Receive Appellate Attorneys’ Fees as Private Attorneys’ General after Successfully Prosecuting the State Water Resources Control Board’s Curtailment Overreach in 2015

On April 4, 2023, the Santa Clara County Superior Court ordered the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) to reimburse a group of California irrigation districts and water agencies (Districts) for substantial appellate attorneys’ fees incurred defending California water rights holders as private attorneys’ general against the State Board’s illegal curtailment actions in 2015 (Appellate Attorneys’ Fees Order). The Appellate Attorneys’ Fees Order is the most recent chapter in the chronicle of the California Curtailment Cases, initially filed seven years ago and coordinated for trial in the Santa Clara County Superior Court. The Districts slated to recoup attorneys’ fees for successfully defeating challenges by the State Board on appeal include Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, Banta Carbona Irrigation District, Central Delta Water Agency, Patterson Irrigation District, San Joaquin Tributaries Authority, South Delta Water Agency, and South San Joaquin Irrigation District. Although the final calculation of appellate attorneys’ fees is pending, the final award is estimated to be in excess of $735,000 … Read More

Written by Theresa C. Barfield, Alyson E. Ackerman, and Ellen M. Moskal