Madera Canal Lawsuit Allowed
May 1, 2001
A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court agreed with farmers in Madera County, Calif., that even the government must sometimes pay for damage caused by water projects. Owners of the 1,000-acre Central Green Pistachio Orchard contended the Madera Canal water proved a definite liability when, allegedly, because of shoddy canal construction and maintenance, the canal leaked in ways that hurt the trees. "Water," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote, "can be either a liability or an asset."