Overview

Elizabeth Ewens is a water resources attorney who practices in Stoel Rives’ Environment, Land Use & Natural Resources group, where she emphasizes the preservation and defense of water rights, water right management and regulation, and the representation of parties in water and environmental litigation including comprehensive groundwater adjudications. Elizabeth has represented public water suppliers, Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, State Water Project (SWP), Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors, and private individuals and entities in complex water resources litigation in the western U.S. involving both surface and groundwater rights. Her practice also includes the representation of clients in state and federal administrative, trial court, and appellate proceedings, as well as in complex mediations and dispute resolution proceedings to achieve negotiated solutions to complex water and environmental issues.

Education

University of California, Davis, J.D., 1994

University of California, Berkeley, B.A., History/English Minor, 1991

Admissions

California

United States District Courts for the District of Colorado, District of Nevada, and Northern and Eastern Districts of California

United States Courts of Appeals for the Ninth and Tenth Circuits

United States Supreme Court

United States Court of Federal Claims

Experience

  • Represents a Groundwater Sustainability Agency in multiple groundwater adjudications and related lawsuits challenging the agency’s Groundwater Sustainability Plans and implementing regulatory and management actions under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).
  • Represents public agencies in multiple phases of complex groundwater litigation and obtained a jury verdict in favor of her clients to secure the public water supplier’s prescriptive groundwater rights during periods of groundwater shortage.
  • Successfully defended private ranching companies’ water rights in a comprehensive surface water adjudication, including securing a favorable state Supreme Court ruling confirming the clients’ rights to the use of water on public lands.
  • Advised public and private entities concerning the implementation of and compliance with SGMA.
  • Served as counsel to major irrigation district, in addition to individual irrigators and ranchers, in cases involving water rights adjudications and transfers, and in the defense of historic water rights.
  • Representation of SWP contractors in litigation and associated complex mediation proceedings involving California’s area of origin laws and SWP contracts.
  • Served as a neutral mediator and facilitated a successful negotiated settlement of a water rights dispute between private landowners.
  • Representation of energy companies in litigation, resulting in a comprehensive settlement agreement, regarding the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) Water Quality Control Policy on the Use of Coastal and Estuarine Waters for Power Plant Cooling. (OTC Policy)
  • Served as outside general corporate counsel to private entities in a broad range of corporate and environmental matters.

Published Decisions

  • Joyce Livestock v. United States, 144 Idaho l (2007)
  • LU Ranching v. United States, 144 Idaho 89 (2007)

Insights

Insights & Presentations

  • Co-author, “California State Water Resources Control Board Modifies Annual Water Diversion and Use Reporting Deadlines for 2022 and Updates on Drought Curtailment Orders,” Stoel Rives Water Law Alert, March 10, 2022
  • Presenter, “SGMA Through the Lens of Recent Groundwater Adjudications,” 2021 Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) CLE Virtual Workshop Series, October 13, 2021
  • Presenter, “SGMA Driven Adjudications,” CalCIMA Education Conference: Environmental Series, February 23, 2021
  • Co-author, “State Water Board Staff Releases Staff Preliminary Draft Statewide Construction Stormwater General Permit and Announces Virtual Workshops,” Stoel Rives Environmental Law blog, December 1, 2020
  • Co-author, “California Wineries Take Note, Part Two: State Water Board Notices Stakeholder Meeting Regarding Winery General Order Fees,” Stoel Rives Environmental Law blog, July 20, 2020
  • Co-author, “California Wineries Take Note: State Water Board Releases Draft General Order for Winery Process Water for Public Comment,” Stoel Rives Environmental Law blog, July 15, 2020
  • Co-author, “State Water Agencies Expect Water Use Reporting to Continue as Normal as California Shelters in Place,” Stoel Rives Environmental Law blog, March 31, 2020

Recognition

  • Included in The Best Lawyers in America® (Natural Resources Law), 2023–present
  • Listed among Northern California Super Lawyers® (Energy & Natural Resources, Environmental), 2023
  • Listed in Sacramento Magazine’s Top Lawyers, 2023
  • Named to the Daily Journal’s “Top Women Lawyers” list, 2023

Affiliations

Professional

  • American Bar Association
    • Water Resources Conference Planning Committee, former Chair
    • Water Resources Committee, Vice Chair, 2006–present
    • Water Resources Conference Planning Committee, Member, 2004–present
    • AHA Water Resources Conference, former Vice Chair and Co-Chair
    • Sponsorship, Former Vice Chair (Special Appointment)
    • Year in Review, Vice Chair, Editor, 2010–present
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