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West Side Irrigation District v. California State Water Resources Control Board

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20147
Nos. 34-2015-80002121, (Super. Ct. Cal., 08/03/2015)

A California court held that revised "curtailment letters" that the state water board sent to irrigation districts and water appropriators in the Central Valley no longer violate due process, and therefore denied the districts' motions for a preliminary injunction. The court previously ruled that the letters, which ordered the districts to stop diverting water from California's rivers and streams, were coercive in nature and went beyond the "informational" purpose the board claimed. But the revised letters no longer require recipients to cease diverting water or to sign a curtailment certification form under penalty of perjury. The revised letters do notify the recipient that the board has information indicating that there is insufficient water available for their water right priority, but such a determination, in and of itself, does not violate due process principles. The revised letters make no assessment of the recipient's legal status in light of such a determination and no longer command the recipient to take any action. And while the court agreed with the irrigation districts that it would have been more prudent to rescind the original curtailment letters in full and issue a new informational notice, it is not for the court to dictate how the board should exercise its discretion.