Monday, February 6, 2012

Judge Stays Enforcement of Russian River Frost Control Regulation

According to newspaper reports (here and here), a Mendocino County Superior Court Judge has granted a grape grower’s request to stay the Russian River Frost Control Regulation until the legality of the Regulation is determined. KMTG staff contacted the Court Clerk’s office to obtain a copy of the Court's order and was advised that Judge Ann Moorman has taken the stay request under submission and will provide the parties with a written order. Judge Moorman presides over the civil lawsuit filed by Rudolph Light, a Redwood Valley grape grower, challenging the legality of the Frost Control Regulation adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board (Board) late last year.

As we previously reported, the Frost Control Regulation seeks to regulate the diversion of water from the Russian River stream system for the purposes of frost protection, by requiring diverters to develop a detailed Water Demand Management Program (WDMP). Under the Regulation, diverters who use water for frost protection, such as grape growers, were required to submit a WDMP to the Board by February 1st, which must be approved by the Board before water could be diverted for frost protection. The purpose of the Regulation is to monitor and coordinate frost protection water diversions so that peaks in water demand can be mitigated, to avoid the stranding of salmonids resulting from rapid declines in stream flow.

Last week's news reports indicate that Judge Moorman decided to postpone the enforcement of the Frost Control Regulation until the court rules on the legality of the challenged Regulation. A stay would mean that Russian River farmers will not be required to comply with the new Regulation while the lawsuit challenging the legality of the Regulation remains pending.

For more information regarding this matter, please contact Elizabeth Leeper or the KMTG attorney with whom you normally consult.

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