Rosamond Community Services District (“RCSD”) recently approved the adoption of a resolution of necessity and filed a case to acquire water rights from agricultural land by eminent domain. After the adoption of the Resolution of Necessity, Antelope Valley Water Master granted the RCSD with a 999 acre-foot permanent water pumping allotment, in addition to a one-time pumping allotment of 5,000 acre-feet. These allotments significantly changed RCSD’s water acquisition needs and eliminated the need for eminent domain to be used.

While it is not uncommon for a public entity to abandon eminent domain proceedings, an abandonment could come at a substantial cost to a public agency. In the case of a full abandonment, the agency is required to pay all the owner's litigation expenses, including attorneys' fees, costs, and expert fees. (See Code of Civil Procedure section 1268.610.) In the case of a partial abandonment, the owner is entitled to only those litigation expenses that would not have been incurred but for the partial abandonment.

This matter serves as a reminder that while it is always possible for the acquisition needs of public entities to shift, it’s important for public agencies to keep in mind the potential high cost of abandoning an eminent domain action.