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AquAlliance v. Bureau of Reclamation

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20067
Nos. 1:14-cv-01018, (D.C. Cir., 05/09/2017)

The D.C. Circuit held that the federal government is not required to reveal the location of water wells under an exemption to FOIA. A environmental group dedicated to protecting the Northern California ecosystem and watersheds filed FOIA requests seeking copies of all documents related to water transfers that occurred in 2013 and 2014. The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) responded to the requests after the threat of a lawsuit but redacted information relating to water-well construction, completion, depth, and location. The environmental group filed suit in district court to compel BOR to reveal the redacted information. The district court found for BOR. The appellate court agreed, holding that FOIA Exemption 9 permits withholding “geological and geophysical information...concerning wells" and the depth and location of water wells would be such information. The judgment was affirmed.