The Tribune reports that the Santa Maria water litigation is winding down, and that the judge could issue a tentative ruling within the next month. Once that ruling is out, I will post it in its entirety on this blog, and attempt to give some sense to its holding and reasoning. It will be very interesting to see how the judge has viewed, evaluated and interpreted the evidence, as will be reflected in his tentative and final rulings. Stay tuned:
A judge heard closing arguments Friday in an eight-year-old lawsuit over water rights in the South County.
At least a tentative ruling should come within a month, said Henry Weinstock, who has represented Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Oceano and Pismo Beach in the lawsuit.
About 70 landowners most from the Santa Maria Valley and a few from southern San Luis Obispo County – chose to go to trial.
An estimated 1,000 other parties in the lawsuit including landowners and several cities and agencies that distribute water to customers signed a settlement.
The judge is expected in June to decide whether the remaining landowners should sign the existing settlement.
If his ruling matches the settlement terms, he could force the remaining landowners to sign it.
The landowners who elected to go to trial rather than settle as did the vast majority of the parties to this litigation have a great deal at stake in the final outcome. There could be some intense disappointment in the final result. After spending nearly 20 years as a litigator, it is the rare court case that is resolved through the final litigation process where all parties are pleased with the final ruling. Time will tell.