Law360 Quotes Wes Miliband on Validity of Fees Imposed on Well Operators

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“…[T]he court expressly deferred whether and to what extent Prop 218 applies to fees or charges inevitably levied by local agencies serving as Groundwater Sustainability Agencies under [the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act].” —Attorney Wes Miliband in Law360
Water attorney Wes Miliband was quoted in Law360 in an article titled “4 Environmental Rulings That Flew Under The Radar In 2017.” The article discusses several little-reported environmental law rulings made by federal and state court judges—in matters relating to climate change, water issues, local pesticide ordinances, and fees charged on groundwater well operators in California by local conservation groups.

In the last case reported on and the only one dealing with California, a California city had argued that the fees it pays to a local groundwater conservation district are not proportionate to the benefits it receives from the district’s conservation activities. The state high court said that the fees are not “fees” as defined under Proposition 218 (passed by California voters in 1996), which holds that charges for a property-related service may not exceed the proportional cost of the service.

Miliband said the decision left unanswered the question of whether the proposition applies to fees levied by agencies responsible for pending development and implementation of groundwater sustainability plans in many of the state’s basins and sub-basins. Miliband concluded that legislation, litigation or some combination will ensue with ongoing implementation of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Read “4 Environmental Rulings That Flew Under The Radar In 2017,” published January 5, 2018. (Subscription required.)

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