A decision favorable to Crestview and other Settling Parties was filed by Judge Anderle on July 7 after the third and final phase of the trial in the suit to adjudicate the relative quantities of water Crestview and all others are entitled to pump from the Las Posas Aquifer.
Crestview will be entitled to pump 717 acre-feet per year if the Operating Yield of the Las Posas Basin, as determined by Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency (“FCGMA”), is 40,000 acre-feet. If the Operating Yield in a particular year is less, all pumpers’ rights will be curtailed by the same percentage for that year.
FCGMA will be the “Watermaster” for administering the judgment, including the Watermaster Rules in Appendix A, and all applicable laws. The court will retain jurisdiction indefinitely over all FCGMA decisions.
The decision has implications for Crestview’s proposed Well #8, which is being partially funded by Calleguas Municipal Water District as part of its Las Posas Aquifer Storage and Recovery Project (“ASR”). The court approved the parties’ agreement to form an ASR Study Group of cooperative experts to propose to the court a comprehensive Project Operations Plan. That plan is expected to define what constitutes an emergency that requires Crestview to pump groundwater to Callaguas for its out-of-basin customers, while protecting others drawing from the Las Posas Aquifer. Meanwhile, the ASR is allowed to continue to operate “consistent with current FCGMA approvals.”
This suit was filed March 27, 2018 by a group of agricultural users who wanted FCGMA to increase their pumping shares relative to domestic and commercial users and to compel FCGMA to be more responsive to “stakeholders” in its deliberations. Because they are the actual owners of the water rights, all landowners overlying the Las Posas Groundwater Basin were given notice by mail in early 2019, and all could have been defendants, each with their own lawyers. However, it was worked out that all residential and other small users not having their own wells were represented by their water suppliers, in our case by Crestview Mutual Water Co.
The purpose of the Phase 3 trial, held in May and June, was to determine if the court should adopt the judgment proposed by the Settling Parties, which include all but two water companies, all public agencies, and the largest group of agricultural users. A small group of Objecting Parties (all of whom are agricultural) tried and failed to persuade the court to reject or modify the proposed judgment. For background on this adjudication proceeding, go here and here.
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