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Casitas Municipal Water District v. United States

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20361
Nos. 05–168L, (Fed. Cl., 12/05/2011)

The Federal Claims Court dismissed a water district's claim that certain operating restrictions on a water project imposed by the National Marine Fisheries Service under the ESA to protect endangered steelhead trout is a physical taking entitling it to compensation under the Fifth Amendment. The restrictions require the district to reroute a portion of water it had diverted for its own use through a fish passageway and return the water to the river channel. Although the government has interfered with the district's ability to divert water—and has done so since the opening of the fish passage facility necessitated by the steelheads' ESA listing—it remains to be seen whether the government's actions will subsequently interfere with the water district's beneficial use of its water. Absent such a present, compensable injury, the takings claim is simply not ripe.