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Oct 14, 2013 7:36 PM by Lindsay MacLeod, KSBY News

U.S. Supreme Court won't review Santa Maria groundwater basin plan

The United States Supreme Court will not review a challenge to the Santa Maria groundwater basin plan. This ends a 16 year dispute over the issue and ensures long-term water supply for the city and other parts of the Central Coast.

Some landowners were upset when the California Supreme Court refused to hear the case last year, so they petitioned to the U.S. Supreme Court.

An attorney with the case says there was an issue over how water would be allocated from the Twitchell Reclamation project, which is a key reservoir in the area.

The court's refusal to hear the case means the city has a right to the water allocated to it from a trial in the lower court. They also have the right to use groundwater if there is a shortage.

The Santa Maria Groundwater Basin is the principal source of water for thousands of residents and landowners.

The issue started back in 1997 when the Santa Maria Valley Water Conservation District filed a lawsuit.

Several years later, a Superior Court judge upheld the city's right to pump water from the local aquifer. They created a supervised management plan to address the concern that there would be water shortages because of the increasing population. Some farmers and landowners refused to sign the plan and filed an appeal. They claimed cities and public agencies had very limited rights to the water in the Santa Maria Valley.

On November 21, the 6th District Court of Appeal upheld a lower court's decision to have a management plan in City of Santa Maria v. Richard E. Adam.

The Supreme Court announced Monday they will not hear the petition of that case.

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