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Goodin MacBride Prevents Large Groundwater Draw from “Critically Overdrafted” Groundwater Basin

In a case raising issues under both the California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”) as well as the California Public Utilities Code, the firm successfully defended a desert water company in its efforts to resist providing service to a planned fertilizer (lime) plant in its service area.

The plant would have required over a million gallons of potable water a month from the water company which relies on wells in the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin for its supply of potable water. In 2016, the Department of Water Resources designated that groundwater basin as “critically overdrawn”.

The owners of the proposed plant insisted that notwithstanding the state of the aquifer in Indian Wells Valley, the water company’s tariffs and the Public Utilities Code permitted them to demand the sought supply from the water company. When the water company refused, the plant owners instituted a formal complaint proceeding at the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) in 2018. The multi-year proceeding came to an end in April of 2020 when the CPUC granted the firm’s motion to dismiss the complaint.

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