In a class action suit brought by landowners against the Bureau of Reclamation involving contracts authorizing landowners to use stored groundwater, dismissal on the merits is affirmed where: 1) the word "term" in the plaintiffs' contract refers to the designated 10-year term set forth in the contracts and does not include any periods of renewal following that initial 10-year term; 2) plaintiffs' contracts are not long-term contracts within the meaning of the 1939 Act, 43 U.S.C. section 485h-3 and are therefore not entitled to the benefits accorded to such contracts under section 485h-1; 3) plaintiffs' argument that their contracts are "repayment contracts" is rejected as it is contrary to section 9(e); and 4) plaintiffs are not entitled to the statutory benefits accorded to repayment contracts and long term 9(e) contracts under the 1939 and 1956 Acts, and because those benefits turn on whether the plaintiffs' contracts include a principal repayment obligation or have a contract term greater than 10 years, it is sufficient to note that the Reclamation Reform Act and the pre-1986 excess land limitations do not change the fact that the plaintiffs hold short-term 9(e) contracts.
Appeal from: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington
Decided September 2, 2009
For Appellant: Ronald Ady, Christensen Law Group, L.P., of Salt Lake City, UtahFor Appellees: Allen M. Brabender, Trial Attorney, Environment and Natural Resources Division, United States Department of Justice, of Washington, DC