Law School Case Brief
Mayor & City Council of Balt. v. Susquehanna River Basin Comm'n - Civil Action WMN-98-3135, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8199 (D. Md. Mar. 30, 2000)
Under the Susquehanna River Basin Compact (Compact), Pub. L. 91-575, 84 Stat. 1509 (1970), the types of projects requiring Susquehanna River Basin Commission review and approval are defined in § 3.10.2 as (i) all projects on or crossing the boundary between any two signatory states; (ii) any project involving the diversion of water; (iii) any project within the boundaries of any signatory state found and determined by the commission or by any agency of a signatory party having functions, powers, and duties in the planning, conservation, development, management, or control of water resources to have a significant effect on water resources within another signatory state; and (iv) Any project which has been included by the commission, after hearing, as provided in Compact Article 14, §14.1, as a part of the commission's comprehensive plan for the development of the water resources of the basin, or which would have a significant effect upon the plan.
The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, Maryland withdrew 250 million gallons per day (mgd) of water from the Conowingo Pool, a reservoir created by the damming of the Susquehanna River. The Susquehanna River Basin Commission announced that it would conduct a hearing on the potential impact of future withdrawals or diversions of water from the Susquehanna by the City of Baltimore to meet the City's municipal water needs. In that hearing, the Commission issued a Determination requiring the City to seek review and approval from the Commission before withdrawing water. The City filed a declaratory judgment action, asking the Court to declare that the Determination is null and void because it has an absolute and unqualified right to withdraw 250 mgd from the Conowingo Pool, a right which is preeminent over the rights of all other users of the Basin's waters and not subject to any regulation by the Commission.
Did the City of Baltimore have a right to withdraw water from the Conowingo Pool without regulation?
The court granted defendant's summary judgment finding defendant was acting within its authority in issuing its determination and in requiring plaintiff to submit projects that would impact the water basin for defendant's review before undertaking them.
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