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Government shutdown delays Desert Water Agency court hearing

October 1st, 2013 | by Barrett Newkirk | Comments

A court hearing involving Desert Water Agency and the federal government is indefinitely on hold because of the government shutdown that began overnight Monday.

The hearing had been scheduled for Oct. 11 in a Los Angeles courtroom, but the U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday requested it be postponed because many of its attorneys aren’t coming to work until the impasse over the shutdown is resolved, DWA spokeswoman Katie Ruark said.

“We’re not going to try and stop (the delay) from happening. I don’t think we even could,” Ruark said.

No new date has been set, she said. The hearing, when it eventually happens, will give attorneys for DWA and government a chance to address a judge concerning the government’s request that the water agency’s lawsuit over new federal regulations be dismissed.

DWA fears it could be out as much as $7 million, or roughly one-third of its operating budget, over rules that took effect in January about taxes and fees paid by private developments on American Indian land. The agency filed its lawsuit against the U.S. Interior Department in March.

A decision the day of the hearing is possible, although DWA attorney Mike Riddel said Tuesday it’s probably more likely that a ruling would come later.

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