Land Use / Water Litigation

E. Bauer came to us with a tangle of new jurisdictional ground water use fees and payments. With negotiation with SGMA we were able to resolve his duplicate payment structures.

Case Summary:

  • Client was stakeholder in what is sure to be the first of many groundwater rights adjudications in drought-ridden Southern California under Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
  • Negotiated favorable arrangement for client caught between local and state-level groundwater rights agencies and regulations to avoid double payments.

Land Use Litigation/Water Law

When Ed Bauer came to us, he had found himself in the crosshairs of conflicting local and state authorities regarding water rights. Mr. Bauer was a local citrus farmer in the Anza-Borrego basin where, as part of a groundwater adjudication under the relatively-new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”), he was subject to an entirely new regime of payments and fees for pumping groundwater to support his farm. 

In addition to the payments and fees he was incurring, because of a jurisdictional quirk, he was also on the hook for payment of water fees to the State Water Resources Control Board. Essentially paying double for the right to pump groundwater on his property to his citrus farm. 

Our team at Gupta Evans & Ayres took on the case and began navigating the complex statutory landscape of SGMA and its competing water statutes. With time and intense negotiation, we were able to negotiate an agreement with the local water authorities where any fees paid to the State would be offset against any fees owed to the local water authorities. 

With the burden of double payment lifted, Mr. Bauer was able to return to farming his citrus groves in Anza-Borrego.