Supreme Court dismisses irrigation district’s appeal

    For the second time, the Frenchman Cambridge Irrigation District (FCID) lost a lawsuit challenging the integrated management plans (IMPs) adopted by the Republican River Basin natural resources districts.
    On Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court dismissed FCID’s appeal of a district court decision in November 2016 which also dismissed the case.
    The irrigation district filed suit in January 2016 against the basin NRDs, the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (DNR), its director and the state Attorney General.
    After the case was dismissed in Furnas County Court last November, FCID appealed the decision to the Nebraska Supreme Court.
    Furnas County District Judge James Doyle IV ruled the court had subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case. However, he dismissed it for FCID’s failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.
    The state challenged two issues on the Supreme Court appeal—whether FCID even had standing to bring the suit initially; and whether the district court had subject matter jurisdiction in the case.
    The high court ruled FCID did not have standing on which to bring suit. Since that was enough to dismiss the case again, the high court did not rule on subject matter jurisdiction issue.
    To have standing, FCID must clearly demonstrate it suffered an injury from the IMPs, the high court said.
    FCID challenged that the IMPs adopted by the NRDs in December 2015, and approved by DNR, would reduce the amount of water available for its operation.
    The level of groundwater pumping reduction in the new IMPs was lowered. Previous IMPs set the pumping reduction at 25 percent. The new IMPs stated pumping only had to be reduced by 20 percent.
    FCID alleged this would reduce its water supply. That would force them to modify their budget and operations and seek relief with the Bureau of Reclamation for breaching its contracts.
    The high court said “alleged harm does not occur unless the IMP’s actually decrease the water supply.”

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