Written by The Business Journal Staff
The 18 plaintiffs — all Friant Division water contractors — allege that in that year there was sufficient San Joaquin River water in storage at Millerton Lake to make deliveries, but the agency elected not to provide contractors an allocation.
“This decision resulted in significant losses of annual and permanent crops and the removal of orchards, substantial groundwater depletion, and emergency measures taken to serve the farms and urban areas that rely on water supplied under Friant Division water contracts,” according to a news release from the contractors, which include the Chowchilla Water District, Exeter Irrigation District, Lower Tule River Irrigation District and the Orange Cove Irrigation District.
Craig Parton, an attorney representing the group, said Reclamation’s action was unprecedented in its 70-plus years of operation.
“We view this litigation as part of a process to ensure that in future years the federal government appropriately meets its legal and contractual obligations to all of its contractors — within the Friant Division and others alike,” Parton said in a statement.
The water contractors are making a claim — filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington D.C. — for the fair market value of Friant Division water not delivered.