In 2002, the three Michigan Ottawa tribes sued Great Spring Waters & Governor Engler over the State’s granting of rights to take millions of gallons of water from mid-Michigan’s water table — a sweetheart deal if there ever was one. The tribes sued under the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, but there was no cause of action and the district court dismissed the action. The tribes did not appeal.
Here is the motion to dismiss: Motion to Dismiss
Here is the reply brief: Reply Brief
Here is the order dismissing the case: Opinion
The tribes chose not to bring claims based on the treaty rights they had established in United States v. Michigan. At some point, we expect tribes to bring treaty claims in the environmental protection context — see our MSU Law Review paper.
There has been a fair amount of scholarly commentary on the case, such as this student note in the Columbia Law Review and this paper in the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law.