Appellate Court Upholds Restrictions on Water Appropriations For Irrigation Purposes.

In 2009, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a biological opinion which concluded that irrigation projects in the Central Valley jeopardized protected salmon and steelhead.  The federal government imposed severe water diversion constraints as a result of the biological opinion.    The trial court, in 2011, held that the biological opinion was unlawful for being arbitrary and capricious, and ordered the NMFS to reconsider its findings.  In addition, the trial court reduced the planned release of 190,000 acre-feet of water from the subject water to other rivers for purposes of protecting salmon and steelhead to 20,000 acre-feet.  On further review, the appellate court reversed, determining that the Endangered Species Act did not require the government agencies to detail how the restrictions on irrigation would help the salmon and steelhead.  San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, et al. v. Locke, No. 12-15144, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 24351 (9th Cir. Dec. 22, 2014).