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2004 Drinking Water and Wastewater Legal Issues

 

December, 2004

Navajo Nation Council OKs settlement to end decades-old water rights lawsuit in the San Juan Basin of northwestern New Mexico

The settlement agreement establishes the Navajos' rights to more than 600,000 acre-feet of water, about 56 percent of the available depletion water on the San Juan Basin. An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons. In return, the Navajos would give up 44 percent of their water right claim in the basin. New Mexico State Engineer John D'Antonio said earlier this month that the agreement also would protect non-Navajo water right owners. The settlement is the result of closed-door negotiations between the engineer's office and the tribe, whose reservation spans parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. AP/Arizona Republic_ 12/31/04 (logon required)

Judge approves settlement between Missouri and EPA to clean up state's waters

The ruling was the outcome of a lawsuit filed by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment against the Environmental Protection Agency. The settlement was approved by Federal District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey. It could affect 22,000 miles of rivers and streams and more than 300,000 acres of lakes. The biggest impact will involve about $305 million in upgraded sewage treatment plants. Springfield, Missouri, News-Leader_ 12/29/04

Precedent-setting federal water rights settlement goes against endangered species
The federal government agreed to pay four California water districts $16.7 million for water the government diverted a decade ago to help two rare fish in California's Central Valley. The settlement came after a federal judge in Washington, D.C., awarded $26 million to the water districts a year ago. The debate over appealing that decision or settling the case grew into a larger debate over the Endangered Species Act and privacy rights. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 12/21/04

Canadian man jailed for role in E.Coli water scandal that killed seven in the small Ontario town of Walkerton

Stan Koebel, a former manager of the Walkerton Public Utilities Commission was sentenced to a year in prison for his role in the outbreak of E. coli 4-1/2 years ago that killed seven people and made thousands of others ill. His brother, Frank, a water foreman with the commission, was sentenced to nine months' house arrest. The Koebels pleaded guilty last month to endangering public safety through improperly monitoring and treating Walkerton's water supply. According to a government inquiry, the outbreak occurred after heavy rainfall washed cattle manure into a well that was insufficiently chlorinated. Reuters_ 12/20/04

Chesapeake, Virginia ran up $2.4 million legal bill to successfully stop harmful tap water law suits

Lawsuits accused city officials of failing to warn pregnant women about trihalomethanes, or THMs, a harmful byproduct of chlorine mixed with organic matter. According to documents released by the city, all but $300,000 went to pay two law firms: Williams Mullen, which has offices in Virginia Beach, and Breeden, Salb, Beasley & Duvall of Norfolk. The firms began defending the city four years ago against hundreds of individual civil suits that collectively were seeking an estimated $1.8 billion from the city. The cases never made it to trial. Last month, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that Chesapeake was immune from such lawsuits. Virginia Pilot/AP/Hampton Roads Daily Press_ 12/10/04

  

California appellate court upholds San Diego's curbs on water runoff pollution

The regulations are some of the nation's most stringent. The ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal rejected arguments offered by the San Diego Building Industry Association, which contended that urban runoff restrictions adopted in 2001 exceeded the state's authority under the federal Clean Water Act. The ruling clears the way for the state's eight other regional water-quality boards to adopt the same tough regulations and likely will affect similar cases pending in the courts. San Diego Union-Tribune_ 12/8/04

California growers may win water vs. fish dispute; U.S. near deal with San Joaquin Valley water districts

The Bush administration is close to settling a legal dispute with California farmers that could cost the government millions and make it more difficult for federal authorities to protect endangered species, according to legal analysts and some state and federal officials.Justice Department officials are working to reach an agreement with five San Joaquin Valley water districts that would affirm a federal judge's 2001 decision that federal authorities' efforts to conserve water for two imperiled kinds of fish violated farmers' private property rights. The ruling, the first of its kind, would set an important precedent and could make it costly for federal officials to take protective actions under the Endangered Species Act. Washington Post/San Francisco Chronicle_ 12/8/04

Holland America Line Cruise Ships agrees to guilty plea for illegally dumping untreated sewage into Alasaka harbor

Holland America, a unit of No. 1 cruise operator Carnival Corp., illegally discharged 20,000 gallons of untreated sewage in the Juneau harbor two years ago, federal officials said. Holland America agreed to pay a $200,000 fine, to donate $500,000 to a nonprofit environmental foundation and to spend $1.3 million to establish a new environmental compliance plan, said U.S. Attorney Tim Burgess and Rear Admiral James Olson of the U.S. Coast Guard's Alaska district. The company did not offer comment. The fine is the first since stricter ship sewage water treatment rules were adopted four years ago. Reuters_ 12/7/04

EPA seeks penalties against DuPont Co. over new tests on Teflon chemical that contaminated West Virginia drinking water

The Environmental Protection Agency says DePont withheld some lab results for the chemical

perfluorooctanoic acid and its salts, known as PFOA or C-8, in blood samples taken in July from 12 people living near DuPont's Washington Works Facility near Parkersburg, W.Va. Penalties against DuPont of up to $32,500 per day, from August 28 through October 12, are being sought "for failing to report this substantial risk information under the Toxic Substances Control Act," EPA officials said. The case next goes to EPA's administrative law judges. DuPont said it does not believe the blood monitoring data is reportable under the law cited by EPA. The company said "the exposure levels ... do not represent a health concern" and no adverse health effects were observed. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 12/6/04

November, 2004

Dispute over ownership of the riverbed of Montana's Tongue River pits Northern Cheyenne against state and coal-bed methane mining firm

For the Northern Cheyenne, it's about defending a special resource and the border of their reservation. For energy development firm Fidelity Exploration & Production Co., it's about business. And for Montana's governor, it's about protecting the state's financial interests and assets, which she insists include the bed of the Tongue River.  AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 11/29/04

Judge approves $70 million medical study of up to 80,000 in West Virginia and Ohio who drank water contaminated with C8

DuPont Co., which will pay for the study, used the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid to produce Teflon at a West Virginia plant on the Ohio River. Blood tests will be conducted on customers of area water districts, former customers of those suppliers, and residents with private wells. DuPont denies any wrongdoing but decided to enter into the agreement because of the time and expense of litigation, said Laurence Jannsen, an attorney for the Wilmington, Del.-based company. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 11/23/04

Officials at New York City's water agency accused of silencing workers

A court-appointed monitor told a federal judge that officials of New York City's Department of Environmental Protection, which runs the city's vast water supply system, recently tried to impede investigations of possible violations of federal health, safety and environmental laws. The monitor, A. Patrick Nucciarone, a former federal prosecutor who specialized in environmental cases, was appointed by the court in 2001 after the agency pleaded guilty to violating federal environmental laws.  New York Times_ 11/19/04 (logon required)

Former Sacramento, California water official Dewight Frances Kramer, 80, gets four-month prison term for income tax fraud

The 80-year-old former general manager of the Sacramento-area Northridge Water District also was fined $15,000 and will serve four months of home confinement in addition to the federal prison sentence. He pleaded guilty in February under an agreement in which he testified last month against his former assistant, Jerry Allan Ness, 62. Kramer admitted conspiring with Ness to hide $516,332 in taxable income earned by themselves and other employees between January 1999 and December 2002, by listing pay for sick leave, vacations, bonuses, salary advances and credit card purchases as other than income. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 11/12/04

California Supreme Court reinstates $4.5 million award to state water association manager who lost his job after questioning millions of dollars in insurance contracts

The San Francisco-based court ruled unanimously in favor of Jerry Stockett, who formerly managed the Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority. The Citrus Heights-based consortium represents about half the state's public water agencies. In his lawsuit, Stockett said he was fired without explanation in 1995, not long after he complained that members of the authority's executive committee and its insurance broker, William G. Malone, were buying insurance without determining whether they got the best deal. AP/Las Vegas Sun_ 11/2/04

Federal monitor's reports chronicle violations and mishaps by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, charged with protecting the safety of the city's drinking water

The reports offer a revealing chronicle of violations, mishaps, oversights, and even low comedy by the agency and assert that even after its 2001 conviction on water contamination charges, the department failed to properly document hazardous waste disposal, delayed cleaning up chemical spills and moved slowly to improve safety at a Bronx reservoir where an employee was sucked into a drainpipe and killed. While these lapses are troubling, federal officials said, the city's water has been found to be safe. In a separate investigation, federal prosecutors announced last month that they were looking into whether the city had misrepresented the lead levels in its drinking water. New York Times_ 11/1/04 (logon required)

American States Water Company announces its subsidiary Southern California Water Company is dismissed from the final two Sacramento, California water quality cases

The court dismissed the cases on the basis that the plaintiffs failed to present any evidence that the water utilities, including SCW, provided water contaminated in excess of, or in violation of, federal and/or state drinking water standards. SCW has long asserted that it meets and exceeds the requirements to provide water within the standards established by the health authorities, and will continue to meet or exceed those standards. SCW is regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission, including the rates it is allowed to charge, and the quality of the water it delivers. Through its subsidiaries, AWR provides water service to 1 out of 30 Californians.  Press Release_ 10/27/04

Second former Sacramento, California water district official pleads guilty

Jerry Allen Ness, 62, the former assistant general manager for Sacramento's Northridge Water District pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion and mail fraud in the midst of his jury trial. He agreed to accept no less than 21 months in prison, and that his sentence will be increased for obstructing justice due to the nature of his testimony during the trial. Former general manager Dewight Frances Kramer pleaded guilty in February to income tax fraud, and faces up to five years in prison at his Nov. 12 sentencing. Ness and Kramer were accused of hiding $516,332 in taxable income earned by themselves and other employees during by listing pay for sick leave, vacations, bonuses, salary advances and credit card purchases as other than income.  AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 10/25/04

Even with legal issues resolved, Kansas continues to face big legal costs in its battles for Arkansas and Republican river water

Expenses from two decades of fighting are approaching $20 million--most from a lawsuit against Colorado--and Attorney General Phill Kline's office plans to ask legislators for an additional $1.2 million next year. Kansas officials may not like it, but they understand that as a downstream state, they can't drop the long legal battle. Kansas City Star_ 10/10/04 (logon required)

Environmental coalition sues to have federal Environmental Protection Agency enforce the Clean Water Act in Florida instead of state

Enforcement of the federal act has been delegated to Florida's Department of Environmental Protection for about a decade, and conservation groups allege DEP has done a poor job. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee by the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Linda Young, a Florida-based clean-water activist. Lakeland, Florida Ledger_ 10/6/04

Kansas and Colorado take their Arkansas River water dispute to the U.S. Supreme Court

Kansas sued in 1984 claiming that Colorado was withholding too much water from the Arkansas River as it flowed into Kansas. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Kansas in 1995. Still at issue is how much Colorado owes for taking the water, and how the compact should be enforced in the future. Colorado says it only should have to pay Kansas $29 million. Kansas wants $53 million. Topeka, Kansas 13 News_ 10/4/04

September, 2004

Wabash National Corp. pleads guilty to polluting Tennessee river; fined $400,000

The Indiana-based firm that manufactures trailers for the trucking industry pleaded guilty to federal charges of dumping more than 120,000 gallons of a "caustic solution" into a Scott County river. Two children suffered chemical burns on their feet and ankles as a result, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Morris. Wabash officials contended the dumping was unintentional. Knoxville News Sentinel_ 9/29/04 (logon required)

City-County water fight in Orange County, California, getting nastier
Yorba Linda Water District officials said they have filed a $23.5-million lawsuit against the county water agency over a dispute that stems from a 34-year-old agreement. The city says it has spent more than $17 million to supply water to an area where the county is obligated to provide free water. Los Angeles Times_ 9/25/04 (logon required)

Wisconsin to sue Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and 30 other agencies for dumping sewage unless problem is fixed

Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager alleges the systems violated their state water pollution control permits and caused a public nuisance. Lautenschlager said MMSD and most of the communities violated their permit by allowing about 500 million gallons of sewage to overflow from their sanitary sewers into area waterways. AP/Post-Crescent_ 9/18/04


Neighbors of a Lisle, Illinois metal plant get $16 million in poisoned water well settlement

U.S. District Court Judge Harry D. Leinenweber approved the agreement, which will settle claims lodged by residents surrounding the Lockformer metal fabricating plant site. Residents sued claiming trichloroethylene, or TCE, was spilled from the plant, which tainted or threatened to contaminate wells of hundreds of homes in unincorporated neighborhoods near the Ellsworth Industrial Park in Lisle. Chicago-Sun Times_ 9/15/04

DuPont to pay up to $343 million to settle Teflon drinking water pollution suit

Parkersburg, West Virginia-area residents sued the company over release into the water supply of a chemical used to manufacture Teflon, the widely-used nonstick coating for cookware. Under the settlement, the No. 2 U.S. chemicals maker will pay $85 million to communities in the area of the company's Washington Works plant. Attorneys' fees and expenses totaled an additional $22.6 million and as much as $235 million for a medical monitoring program if an independent panel finds a link between the chemical, perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and human health. DuPont would be relieved of financial burdens for personal injury claims and for water-treatment technologies if no link is found. New York Times_ 9/10/04 (logon required)

Texas water holders in the Rio Grande Valley ask Congress for support in $500 million claim against Mexico

The claim, filed Aug. 27 by 17 Valley irrigation districts, 29 individual water-rights owners and the North Alamo Water Supply Corp., seeks economic compensation for reported damages from 1992 to 2002 when Mexico missed making water payments to the U.S. Brownsville Herald_ 9/9/04

Colorado-Kansas water case headed to Supreme Court
Arguments in the long-running water dispute between Colorado and Kansas will be heard by the Supreme Court next month.  Colorado will argue at the Oct. 4 hearing that it should only have to pay Kansas $29 million for violating the Arkansas River Compact. Kansas wants $53 million.  Kansas City Star (log on required)_9/3/04

Investigation of East Cleveland, Ohio, mayor prompted many other U.S. probes: Federal prosecutors
Prosecutors said federal agents have begun probes in Chicago, Detroit, Houston, New Orleans and in California and elsewhere, seeking public corruption that involves possible contract rigging. According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, charges in those cities could include extortion, money laundering, wire fraud and using telephones to promote corrupt payments. East Cleveland mayor Emmanuel Onunwor is on trial for racketeering, bribery, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, tax fraud annd lying in a bankruptcy case. The businesses that had the contract to run the city Water Department gave $60,000 to an intermediary in 2002, according to the indictment. CH2M Hill and a subsidiary, Operations Management International, did the work at the time. Cleveland Plain Dealer_ 8/23/04 (logon required)

Arizona judge hears suit accusing water firms in two deaths
Almost two years after two boys died after inhaling water contaminated by a deadly microorganism, an Arizona Superior Court judge heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by the families against local water suppliers. Plaintiffs argue the companies provided unchlorinated and contaminated water, operated a flawed water system and delivered a defective product. Arizona Republic _8/21/04 (log on required)


Connecticut subsidiary of Tyco Internatonal pays $14.4 million in penalties and pleads guilty to discharging untreated wastewater from two plants

Tyco Electronics Printed Circuit Group pleaded guilty earlier to 12 felony charges of violating the Clean Water Act at its Manchester and Stafford Springs plants. The company was fined $6 million and agreed to spend another $4 million on environmental programs. Tyco Electronics Printed Circuit Group had been the subject of a lengthy federal environmental probe. Three former employees have pleaded guilty to Clean Water Act violations for covering up the wastewater discharge near its now-closed plant in Manchester. They await sentencing. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 8/17/04

After decades of legal conflict, San Bernardino, California wrings $69 million from the Army to clean up plumes of groundwater contamination from a World War II prisoner-of-war camp

A separate $6.5 million was awarded to the Environmental Protection Agency in connection with the same case. More than 25 percent of the municipal water supply for San Bernardino's more than 180,000 residents has been affected by water contamination. The contamination was not discovered until 1980, when the presence of chlorinated solvents, tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene, was revealed, the EPA said. The contamination is believed to be from Camp Ono, a camp for Italian prisoners of war in World War II. San Bernardino Sun_ 8/13/04

Exxon Mobil Corp. subsidiary to pay $5.5 million for oil spills in Utah that polluted Navajo water supplies

Mobil Exploration and Producing U.S. Inc. will pay a $515,000 penalty and spend about $4.7 million to reduce oil spills at its field operations. The government sued Mobil in March 1998, claiming that 83 spills during the 1990s at the company's oil fields on lands leased from the Navajo Nation,reached tributaries of the San Juan River, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. Reuters_ 8/3/04

Drinking-water TCE contamination settlement to cost Illinois company $2 million

Lockformer Co., accused of spilling a toxic solvent into the ground around its Lisle plant for more than 20 years, has agreed to pay as much as $2 million to provide safe drinking water to 154 families living nearby. The settlement requires Lockformer to bear the cost of extending municipal water mains to homes in two unincorporated subdivisions where groundwater was tainted by the solvent trichloroethylene, say Illinois and DuPage County officials who filed a 2001 civil lawsuit in DuPage County against the company. The lawsuit, and others filed on behalf of residents living near the plant, contended that between 1970 and 1992, the TCE repeatedly spilled into the ground from Lockformer's 500-gallon rooftop tank. Chicago Sun-Times_ 7/30/04

Six northeast states sue over EPA's new rules for water use by power plants, saying they fail to protect water

Rhode Island is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. The states claim the EPA has relaxed the need for power plants to install "best technologies" on the amount of water they take in from waterways, such as oceans, bays and rivers. They've asked the court to review the Phase II rules, published July 9 in the Federal Register, and want the EPA to halt the rule from going into effect until the petition has been resolved. The other states involved are Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.  AP/Newsday_ 7/26/04


World Bank blacklists Canada's Acres International for corruption on Lesotho dam project

Acres, bought in June by design firm Hatch of Mississauga, Ontario, will be barred from receiving any new bank-financed contracts for the next three years. The bank's move does not affect existing contracts with Acres, which includes projects in the West Bank and Gaza, Ghana, Ethiopia and Tanzania worth around $2.3 million. The project, the result of an agreement signed in 1986 with South Africa, will redirect Lesotho's abundant water resources to South Africa's industrial heartland in Gauteng province through an elaborate network of dams.  Reuters_ 7/23/04

Irrigation District's right to sell water questioned
A California state water official may have thrown the Nevada County Irrigation District (NID) into a quandary by questioning whether NID has the rights to sell water from its proposed $12 million Banner/Cascade Pipeline Project. State Water Resources Control Board official Katherine Mrowka said she is concerned about NID's proposed sale of 16,500 new acre feet per year of water from the project. The 16,500 acre feet are first used by Pacific Gas & Electric for power production and then dumped into NID's system. Her staff contends a water right for hydroelectric power generation cannot be used again for new consumption purposes unless another right is established. She also questioned if there would be better uses for the water than selling it to area ranches for irrigation.   The Union _7/21/04


California Supreme Court won't hear San Diego County Water Authority's appeal in "preferential" water rights case; Decision ends suit against southern California's powerful Metropolitan Water District
Water Authority officials have said for decades that Metropolitan's "preferential rights" system threatens San Diego County residents because it guarantees the county a much smaller "right" to Metropolitan's water supply than it routinely buys each year. As a result, the Water Authority spent nearly a decade pursuing an agreement, completed last year, to buy billions of gallons of water from Imperial Valley farmers. Water Authority officials say that deal will greatly reduce the county's reliance on Metropolitan's water supply for the next 45 to 75 years. North County Times_ 7/15/04
San Diego County Water Authority press release_ 7/14/04

 

2001 Baltimore, Maryland tunnel disaster spawns civil suits
Hartford Casualty Insurance Co., the Connecticut-based insurer for the Baltimore Orioles, is attempting to recover more than $1 million in damages after a train derailment and tunnel fire forced city officials to cancel three home games in July 2001. They argue one cause of the crash was negligent city inspection and maintenance of municipal water lines in and around the tunnel. The city contends the water lines were damaged by the crash and are not a cause of the accident that ignited a chemical fire that shut down the city for several days. The extreme heat in the tunnel wreaked havoc on Baltimore's water supply system in the area, causing cast iron water mains and pipes to burst, disrupting water service and flooding area businesses. Newsday_ 7/14/04

Federal appeals court OKs boost to Trinity River

The Trinity is a major artery in California's Central Valley Project's system of dams, tunnels, canals and reservoirs that supply 200 water districts for 30 million people. The court approved a 1984 congressional plan to increase flows into the Trinity River to restore fish habitat, reducing water to California farmers and hydroelectric plants. Most of the water in the Trinity, which originates in the Trinity Alps and flows west into the Klamath River, has been diverted for decades to serve a fast-growing population.   AP/Oakland Tribune_ 7/14/04

Small Maine group seeks to halt Nestle spring water pumping plan
A one-page, handwritten document filed in Somerset County Superior Court asks for an injunction against further development of Nestle Waters North America's 80 million gallon pumping station and that the Land Use Regulation Commission permit for the station be withdrawn. Opponents of the station say it was approved without proper public hearings and that Nestle should pay taxpayers for the water. Nestle said the bottled water industry is too competitive to pay more than its current taxes and fees.   Morning Sentinel_ 7/13/04

Major groundwater vs. surface water-rights dispute sends largest Nebraska irrigation district to court to appeal state agency's decision
At issue is a complaint by the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District that groundwater irrigators upstream from Lake McConaughy are illegally diverting water that otherwise would flow into the state's largest reservoir, eventually reaching the district's irrigation customers. The state says it can't regulate groundwater, only surface water. Omaha World-Herald_ 7/7/04

Krier Foods Inc. president to pay $200,000 for Wisconsin water pollution charges
Bernard Bruce Krier was fined because the company's soft drink and juice plant transported wastewater to nearby dairy farms amd discharged it into the farms' manure holding ponds or lagoons.  Milwaukee Business Journal_ 7/6/04

 

June, 2004
Texas Supreme Court rules Tarrant Regional Water District must pay ranchers $33.5 million for damage cause by flooding downstream from the Richland-Chambers Reservoir

Critics of the ruling say it could cost water customers across the state millions of dollars.
The Supreme Court said the release of water from the reservoir causes recurrent flooding that washes out levees, roads and a privately owned bridge, making 11,000 acres of the ranch downstream useless.  Fort Worth Star-Telegram_ 6/26/04

Florida's Tampa Bay Water sues Hydranautics Inc. of Oceanside, California over failure of Tampa Bay's desalination plant to work the way it should

The water agency also is suing two insurance companies that posted a nearly $24 million performance bond to guarantee that the desalination plant would run properly. Hydranautics, in a suit of its own, says other companies involved in the construction are responsible for fixing the problems. Tampa Bay Water provides water to 2 million customers in three central Florida counties, the agency's Web site stated. North County News_ 6/23/04

Disgraced ex-Vivendi CEO Jean-Marie Messier, no longer Master of the World
The man who once dubbed himself J6M -- "Jean Marie-Messier, me myself master of the world" -- and transformed a dowdy water utility into a media empire at a cost of $50 billion, turned himself over to police as they carry out an insider trading probe. The humiliation of Messier, 48, a profligate dealmaker who created the media giant that had at its heart Hollywood's Universal Studios and also presided over the then-biggest loss in French corporate history, reads like a morality tale of the consequences of overarching ambition.  Reuters_ 6/22/04


Bankrupt California company agrees to pay $4.3 million for dumping toxic waste in river: U.S. attorney would have gone after its soul too, but says it didn't have one
The Keysor-Century Corporation, which made materials used in plastic products, filed for bankruptcy two years ago -- which a prosecutor said was brought on at least in part by investigations into its polluting. The Environmental Protection Agency found the company released toxic wastewater into the Santa Clara River, emitted high levels of cancer-causing pollutants, and falsified reports to state and federal agencies. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 6/17/04


Water companies, not  the state Department of Water Resources, are responsible for setting conservation rules, Arizona Supreme Court says
The case began in 1990, when the private Arizona Water Co. challenged the Department of Water Resources' management plan. The state agency restricted water allotments to the companies based on the populations they served without taking responsibility to see that the individual "end users," that is businesses and homeowners, did their part in conserving water. Arizona Republic_ 6/15/04

May, 2004

Former Kansas lieutenant governor accused by state authorities of misleading investors in bottled water venture
Dave Owen, a financial adviser who also is a former aide and top fund-raiser for U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, is accused of encouraging two associates to sell stock in Tuscany Water Inc. to family and friends, even though the pair were not licensed or registered to sell stock. Owen is contesting the claims. AP/Witchita Eagle_ 5/24/04

Water-filter marketers posing as city utility workers face crackdown in Cooper City, Florida
The city will prosecute companies that hang small bags containing empty plastic bottles and questionnaires on residents' doorknobs. The questions ask if homeowners are satisfied with municipal water quality, leading some residents to believe the city is conducting the survey. The companies then try to sell water filters to the homeowners. The practice is common throughout Broward County. Sun-Sentinel_ 5/23/04


California-American Water Co.'s lawsuit against central coast cities over pumping rights to the Monterey Peninsula's aquifer will be heard by an outside judge

However, the suit to determine control of the Seaside Basin will remain in Monterey County. Retired Kern County Judge Roger Randall will preside over the case to define water rights to the underground basin which, unlike the Carmel River, is not regulated by any state agency. Monterey Herald_ 5/22/04

Interior Secretary Gale Norton to announce settlement of Nez Perce claim to Idaho' Snake River water rights
The Snake River is vital to farms, city water systems, power generation, and returning salmon and steelhead runs throughout southern and central Idaho. It winds 1,056 miles through the state.  AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 5/14/04

Washington state Supreme Court rules county health board can't order water districts to add fluoride
The Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health adopted the fluoridation rule in October 2002, saying it would save millions of dollars in medical costs and prevent children from having dental problems. The Supreme Court ruled that state law specifically gives water districts _ not local health boards _ the authority to decide whether to fluoridate their water. AP/Seattle Times_ 5/13/04

Wal-Mart to pay record $3.1 million fine for federal storm water runoff violations in nine states
The fine is the largest civil penalty ever against a company for federal Clean Water Act storm water runoff violations. Officials said they hoped the settlement with the world's biggest retailer would set an example for smaller companies. The retailer was fined $1 million over similar violations in 2001. Storm water runoff carries high levels of mud, sediment, oil, grease, heavy metals, toxins and other pollutants into storm sewers and ultimately into rivers, wetlands and oceans.  Reuters_ 5/12/04

Montana joins suit seeking rent for dams on state-owned riverbeds
The lawsuit was filed in October by two Bozeman residents against PPL Montana, Avista Corp. and PacifiCorp. The plaintiffs contend that since the companies' dams sit on state property, the companies owe lease payments dating back decades.
AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 5/10/04

Florida grand jury blasts federal and state environment agencies and Pensacola-area water officials for failing to protect the public from contaminated drinking water

The blistering report said the combined failure by the Escambia County Utilities Authority as well as state and federal regulators meant thousands of residents were unaware that more than half of the county's public water wells were laced with harmful contaminants including radium, dry cleaning chemicals, pesticides or petroleum products for an untold number of years. The 43-page report, which focuses on the mid- to late 1990s, paints a grim picture that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Utilities Authority were not adequately concerned with their responsibilities for public health, safety and welfare nor the consequences of their decisions. The report makes 24 recommendations ranging from criminalizing the dereliction of duty by public officers to evaluating whether the Utilities Authority should exist at all. Pensacola News Journal_ 5/5/04

U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear appeal of Washington state case allowing federal water diversion for protection of endangered fish
The Supreme Court, without comment, let stand a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that was a setback for groups seeking to limit federal control over state waters. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 5/3/04

April, 2004

Tyco to Pay $6 Million Fine for Water Violations
Tyco International Ltd.'s printed circuit group faces a $6 million fine related to violations of the federal clean water act. Violations involved improper sampling and reporting of wastewater. Reuters_4/29/04


Salt River Project asks judge to stop more than a dozen Verde Valley landowners from taking water from the Verde River

Drought and illegal use could leave Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe and other cities that rely on the river for drinking water at risk of running short, utility says. The battle over the Verde is part of a mammoth court case that marked its 30th anniversary April 26. The case will eventually settle tens of thousands of individual water rights claims on the Verde, Salt and Gila rivers, ending disputes that, in some instances, date to the 19th century. Arizona Republic_ 4/28/04

The Washakie Rural Water District in Wyoming reaches settlement with BRS Engineering Inc. over errors on a major water pipeline
The 90-mile, $15 million project is behind schedule and $5 million over budget. Billings Gazette_ 4/25/04


Pennichuck Corp. files $5 million lawsuit against Nashua, New Hampshire charging the city is violating the company's civil rights by attempting to take its three waterworks subsidiaries by eminent domain
The lawsuit is the third the company has filed since the beginning of this year in related to the city's efforts to municipalize its three waterworks subsidiaries, Pennichuck Water Works Inc., Pennichuck East Utility Inc., and Pittsfield Aqueduct Co. Boston Globe_ 4/25/04


Virginia Supreme Court to decide if women who blame miscarriages on THMs-contaminated drinking water can sue city of Chesapeake
The women also allege city officials misled the public about the threat. The high court will decide such issues as whether sovereign immunity protects the city from the suits; the validity of a claim of fraud against the city; and whether the alleged victims waited too long to sue.THMs form when chlorine mixes with organic materials such as algae and leaf particles, which are abundant in Chesapeake’s Northwest River, one of the primary sources of drinking water in the city. Virginia Pilot_ 4/24/04

Rapides Parish, Louisiana water district won't accept $5,400 offered by the mayor of the town of Ball to settle its investigation of an unauthorized water line to his property
The board expects to hold a private session when its investigation concludes, to learn whether any board member, district employee or third party contributed to the unauthorized project. AP/Times-Picayune_ 4/24/04 (logon required)

Indiana town sues to break water/sewer contract with private company that serves 15,000 households and businesses
The community of Lawrence alleges that then-Mayor Thomas Schneider should have sought competitive proposals from companies seeking to operate the utility; that Lawrence Utilities LLC has denied the city reasonable access to its books and records; and that Lawrence Utilities LLC is charging excessive rates. Indianapolis Star_ 4/24/04

North Carolina towns hire lawyers to protect water rights from encroachment by other water districts

They're worried about a proposed joint venture by Broad River Water Authority (BRWA) and Spartanburg Water System (SWS). The county and three municipal governments are concerned that BRWA and SWS could gain control of local water distribution and water resources, such as the Green and Pacolet rivers. Tryon Daily Bulletin_ 4/22/04

Tyco International subsidiary to pay $10 million fine for dumping wastewater into a Connecticut town sewer
Tyco Electronics Printed Circuit Group has been the subject of a lengthy federal environmental probe. Three former employees have pleaded guilty to Clean Water Act violations for covering up the wastewater discharge near its now-closed plant in Manchester. AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution_ 4/22/04 (logon required)


Federal judge allows Colorado environmental lawsuit over water flow through Black Canyon in the Gunnison National Park to go on

The judge rejected a request by the Interior Department, state of Colorado and several water districts to dismiss the lawsuit. The Colorado Supreme Court will consider the case in May. AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer_ 4/21/04

Central California water districts sue Bureau of Reclamation for $500 million claiming water from New Melones Redervoir never was delivered
In an earlier case, two other water districts successfully argued that the government's use of water to protect endangered species amounted to an unconstitutional taking of private property. In the new lawsuit, the water agencies contend the government took New Melones water to meet the water salinity standards in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  Sacramento Bee_ 4/21/04

Federal judge says the proposed settlement of a 38-year-old water rights lawsuit in northern New Mexico is the best deal that non-Indians are going to get
The proposed settlement requires non-Indians to cap their private wells and hook up to a planned regional water system. AP/KRQE_ 4/19/04

Los Angeles mayor's office probed over contracts; city's water department part of the federal scrutiny
A Los Angeles city official on Thursday confirmed that a federal probe into the city's contracting practices has reached the mayor's office. The Los Angeles Times has reported that the probe centers on allegations of corrupt contracting at Los Angeles World Airports, the Port of Los Angeles and the Department of Water and Power. Reuters_ 4/15/04

Workers at Tennessee's Mount Pleasant wastewater treatment plant may have fabricated water-testing results to appear to be in compliance with federal and state environmental regulations, according to search warrant
No charges have been filed in the matter. According to the warrant, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating allegations of forgery, official misconduct and falsification of records in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. Nashville Tennessean_ 4/14/04

Lebanon, Missouri pays more than $74,000 in fines and will fix wastewater system to settle federal Clean Water Act violations
The city admits no wrongdoing in the decree. Springfield News-Leader_ 4/14/04

California state transportation department settles lawsuit, agrees to install stormwater runoff controls on freeways
Caltrans made the pact in a filing in U.S. District Court after a decade-long battle with two environmental groups, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Santa Monica BayKeeper. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 4/8/04

New Mexico Supreme Court overturns Las Vegas, N.M., water claim
The ruling overturns a 1958 state Supreme Court decision that entitled towns founded in Spanish colonial or Mexican times to take as much water from a river as they need for municipal purposes. AP/KRQE.com_ 4/8/04

Louisiana women confess to embezzling $350,000 from water company
The two employees stole possibly as much as $500,000 over 2 1/2 years at Kentwood Spring Water Co., says Houma Police Chief Pat Boudreaux. AP/NOLA.com 4/4/04

March, 2004

California appeals court upholds right of Los Angeles to get more water during a drought than San Diego
The case centers on the formula used by the Metropolitan Water District to determine water rights. Because real estate in Los Angeles is more expensive, that city has rights to more water than San Diego County. San Diego Union-Tribune 3/26/04

Perchlorate information withheld, suit alleges
The Bush administration is illegally withholding information about the ill effects of ammonium perchlorate, a rocket fuel ingredient that has tainted water supplies in at least 29 states, according to a lawsuit filed in L.A. by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Los Angeles Times 3/25/04

South Florida Water Management District says the lack of a U.S. Supreme Court verdict means that Everglades restoration will remain on track.
The Supreme Court, in an 8-1 ruling, asked the federal court in Miami to obtain more information. The Miccosukee Tribe, which initially filed suit against the water district, contends the district needs a federal permit because it is pumping polluted water into a pristine section of the Everglades. Naples Daily News 3/25/04

Supreme Court dodges major ruling in Everglades pollution case and the power of government to regulate clean waters
The justices told a Florida court to reconsider a pollution dispute involving the Everglades. The ruling extends a six-year fight between the 500-member Miccosukee Indian tribe and a water district the Indians accuse of illegally dumping pollutants into Florida’s Everglades. AP/Naples Daily News 3/24/04

Commissioners OK raids of Florida water department sites
Auditors raided about 10 Hillsborough County Water Department buildings, just minutes after county commissioners approved their investigation. County Administrator Pat Bean told most commissioners Monday she wanted to hire auditors Ernst & Young to review spending on contracts for consulting, painting and construction work. Tampa Bay Tribune 3/24/04

Illinois community's $42 million water project being investigated by Cook County state's attorney
According to published reports, 22 subpoenas have been issued to Melrose Park village officials and others involved with the project to increase Melrose Park's capacity to sell water to seven surrounding towns. Northlake Herald-Journal 3/24/04

Developers sue Florida over water
The powerful group is taking the state to court over a rule that reserves water for nature. The Association of Florida Community Developers argues the so-called water reservations for the environment “will reduce water available for AFCD members,” according to a petition the group filed with the state this week. News-Press 3/20/04

Federal court in Washington, D.C. ruled that citizen suits under the Clean Water Act cannot be used to enforce complaints about odor, noise or other non-water issues.
In a 30-page ruling, Judge Henry Kennedy rejected claims brought by environmental groups over intermittent odors from the Potomac Interceptor sewer line, which runs through Washington, D.C.'s Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park. Press Release 3/12/04

Lawyer: Irrigation use for Animas-La Plata water OK
Animas-La Plata Project water could still be used for agricultural purposes, a project attorney said Wednesday. The claim angered at least one environmentalist group long opposed to the project. The goal of the Animas-La Plata Project is to fulfill Ute and Navajo water claims by diverting water from the Animas River to Ridges Basin Reservoir, which is being built southwest of Durango to store 120,000 acre-feet of water. Durango Herald 3/11/04

Feature: Water case in Florida may ripple into Colorado
In the midst of the West’s lingering drought, a Supreme Court case involving water pumps in the Everglades could put another squeeze on water supplies. Grand Junction Daily Sentinel 3/8/04

Arkansas water authority, ESI agree in principle to settlement
The only engineering firm which has ever worked on the regional water system known as Two Ton has accepted a deal that's been described as a divorce settlement. Morning News 3/6/04

Fired Maryland water utility executives to keep their jobs
The chairwoman of Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission said Wednesday that this week's decision by the office of the state Attorney General essentially reinstates the two fired utility executives. The opinion said the commission failed to give the public notice that the issue would be discussed and then acted in a closed-door meeting. Gazette.net 3/4/04

$1.2 million Louisiana settlement reached over contaminated drinking water
In May 2000, residents living in and around the Walden Point subdivision in Pineville found that their drinking water had been contaminated with sewage. Town Talk 3/3/04

February, 2004

The Lynn, Massachusetts, Water and Sewer Commission fires contractor USFilter over $15 million performance guarantee. Daily Item 2/24/04

Tainted water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina Marine base to be probed. It was supplied to base housing for five years after contaminated wells were discovered.  Washington Post/Arizona Republic 2/20/04

Arizona utility regulator files to take over seven water companies. Owner had long list of violations, including unreliable service, state says. Arizona Daily Sun 2/20/04

Dewight Francis Kramer Sr., former general manager of two scandal-plagued California water districts, pleads guilty to IRS fraud charges. He agrees to cooperate in investigation of other water district officials. Sacramento Bee 2/20/04

Veteran Texas precinct worker arrested following irregularities in water board voting. AP/Mercury News 2/12/04

Tampa Bay, Florida water officials to pay desalination plant builder Covanta $5 million to go. Plant beset by problems. Another company will be hired to fix and run it. AP/Bradenton Herald 2/10/04

Florida grand jury investigating radium and other pollutants in the aquifer that supplies drinking water to the Pensacola Bay area has its term extened to May 1. It was supposed to finish Sunday. Pensacola News Journal 2/9/04

California water-rights ruling could threaten federal protection for endangered species. AP/San Francisco Chronicle 2/8/04

Chicago's water department delays promotion of a top employe--who also is a cousin of the mayor. Officials look at his possible role in trucking scandal. Chicago Sun Times 2/7/04

January, 2004

New Mexico to establish water rights courts. Without courts, current backlog in water rights cases could take 600 years to resolve, official estimated. New Mexico Business Weekly 1/29/04

Pasadena, California sues NASA, US Army for $2 million over alleged perchlorate contaminated water wells. NBC 4-TV 1/26/04

Three Leeds, Alabama Water Board members charged with felonies for using city employes and equipment for personal gain. No impact on operation of the Water Works, says general manager. AP/Times Daily 1/23/04

What was Congress thinking? Atlanta argues in federal court that Lake Lanier was built to supply city with water. Not true, reply Florida and Alabama. Atlanta Journal-Constitution 1/21/04

Federal judge to rule on legality of water agreement between Atlanta and Corps. of Engineers. Florida and Alabama oppose the pact. Atlanta Journal Constitution 1/19/04
Florida, Alabama, Georgia water-sharing fight goes to federal court today. At issue is how much water from Lake Lanier can be used by Atlanta. AP/Miami Herald 1/19/04

U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in Florida Everglades water pump case. Decision could change the reach of the Clean Water Act. NY Times 1/14/04

Owners of defunct Montana plant to pay $18 million for illegally storing phosphorous waste. AP/San Francisco Chronicle 1/14/04

South Florida Water Management District's statement on arguments to U.S. Supreme Court on Everglades water pumping. Press Release/Yahoo 1/14/04

California water districts hail $26 million federal court award. U.S. to reimburse for water used to protect endangered species. Press Release/Business Wire 1/12/04

Parmalat founder Tanzi fingers Capitalia bank head. Firm bought beverage and mineral water assets in 2002 at price Tanzi said was "considerably above their actual value." AFP/Channelnewsasia.com 1/12/04

U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments this week in landmark Everglades water case. Can a water district move polluted water without treating it? Twenty four states are lined up on either side of issue. Miami Herald 1/11/04

Indiana group files federal suit seeking well testing in town where utility is accused of polluting groundwater. Coal waste was dumped on top of town's aquifer, they allege. Northwest Indiana Times 1/9/04

Rohm and Haas chemical company deposits $9.4 million to buy Moss Point, Mississippi a water filter system. Payment part of major pollution fine. Pascagoula Mississippi Press 1/7/04
Former owners of Phoenix, Arizona golf club pay $3 million in contaminated water death. Case led to changes nationwide in how water and ice are handled on golf courses. Norwalk virus was the culprit. Arizona Republic 1/7/04

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