Abatti is seeking to overturn a previous appellate court ruling that asserts Imperial Irrigation District is the “sole owner” of water rights in the Valley, and farmers do “not (have) an appurtenant water right” but rather are entitled merely to “water service” that is subject to modification by the district at its discretion.
“The petition in this case is built on a house of cards,” according to the IID’s filing. “Petitioners’ entire argument is premised on the notion that this court in Bryant vs. Yellen not only held that landowners in the Imperial Valley in California have a federally protected right to water from the public irrigation district, but held that landowners have a federally protected and irrevocable right to a particular allocation of water.
“In fact, Bryant held neither,” the filing continues. “The only federally protected water right Bryant recognized is the water right perfected by the irrigation district itself. And while Bryant recognized that the landowners have a state-law right to water service, the Court expressly resolved the case on the premise that ‘no individual farm in the District has a permanent right to any specific proportion of the water held in trust by the District.’”
IID’s deadline to file in the matter was Wednesday, May 26.