Description: Lawsuit seeking seeking declarations regarding the application of federal law to certain reclamation and irrigation projects.
Clark v. Haaland
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 09/28/2022 Memorandum Opinion and Order Download Motions to dismiss granted. Federal Court Said Sovereign Immunity Barred New Mexico Water Users’ Action. The federal district court for the District of New Mexico dismissed residential water users’ lawsuit seeking federal court intervention to correct state court rulings that the plaintiffs contended were at odds with federal water law. The complaint’s allegations included that adjudication of claims to interstate rivers must consider factors that include climate change. The court granted the state, federal, and Navajo Nation defendants’ motions to dismiss based on sovereign immunity. 04/27/2022 Order Download Plaintiff San Juan Water Users Association dismissed without prejudice. 11/12/2021 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Suit Filed in New Mexico Federal Court Sought to Require Consideration of Global Warming in Interstate River Adjudications. New Mexico residents and an association of acequias, which are also known as “community ditches,” filed a lawsuit in federal court in New Mexico against federal, Navajo Nation, and state defendants seeking declarations regarding the application of federal law to certain reclamation and irrigation projects. The plaintiffs alleged that certain state court rulings had “overthrow[n] the first principles of federal water law, so they must be corrected by the federal courts.” Included in the relief sought by the plaintiffs were declarations that the Navajo Dam and Navajo Indian Irrigation Project (NIIP) are Bureau of Reclamation projects subject to the Reclamation Act of 1902, and to Section 8 of the Reclamation Act—which enacts a federal policy of water conservation—in particular. The plaintiffs also sought declarations that the Navajo Dam and NIIP are subject to the “practicably irrigable acreage standard”—which is the application of the beneficial use requirement to irrigation projects—and that when adjudicating claims to an interstate river, courts must consider factors that include global warming. The plaintiffs alleged that a state court judge previously “refused to consider the dire and growing shortages of water in the Colorado River system caused by global warming and prolonged drought.”