Water rights issues can arise when businesses expand, propose a new use of land or water, or ensure their viability by obtaining, enhancing and preserving access to groundwater and surface water. In this dynamic and often contentious environment it’s essential to understand the competing interests and reconcile the requirements and policies into strategies that achieve business objectives.
Our Water Resources team combines decades of industry and regulatory experience with proactive and practical solutions to challenges by local, state, tribal and federal stakeholders. While our clients represent a diversity of industries, we have particular depth in agribusiness, timber, manufacturing and natural resources development. We help with permitting and advocacy during project review and approval by state water resource agencies, environmental regulators, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other governmental agencies. When water rights are held by an Indian tribe or tribal entity under federal laws and treaties, we negotiate agreements to secure water use rights and provide for mitigation if the project affects tribal interests.
We’re nationally recognized leaders in establishing and defending water rights, as well as enhancing the reliability of water supplies. Our reputation and success in high-profile water resource and access projects led to our being invited to help draft legislation that now shapes water rights policies throughout the western U.S. We enjoy constructive working relationships with government agencies, elected officials, tribal leaders and environmental groups and are adept at identifying the common ground needed to achieve your goals.
- Transactions involving purchases and sales of water rights
- Water rights due diligence and opinions
- Water rights disputes in administrative and judicial forums
- Representation of claimants in groundwater and surface water adjudications, including administrative and judicial proceedings
- Analysis and resolution of conflicts between water users
- Changes to existing water right uses, points of diversion and places of use
- Instream water right applications
- Water supply planning
- Development of recycled water supplies
- Infrastructure planning and permitting
- Project finance
- Compliance with state and federal environmental protection requirements
- Formation and management of irrigation districts, water improvement districts and various other special districts that manage and deliver water
- Preparation of registration and other regulatory compliance statements
- Counseling and advocacy involving water rate proceedings by state and local agencies
- Negotiations with and for Indian tribes and tribal entities
- Wetlands and shoreline permitting
The dynamic conditions surrounding water supply and access are creating opportunities for new business ventures. Our corporate transaction, intellectual property and construction attorneys help with development of new water supplies from recycled water and desalination plants, and building the necessary infrastructure for the treatment, distribution and storage of these emerging resources.
Knowing that water resource transactions can be challenged by environmental organizations, neighborhood groups or project competitors, we develop an administrative or transaction record to withstand dispute or litigation. Should litigation proceed, we enlist a team with extensive water law litigation experience including: instream water rights that seek to balance competing water flow needs; cases deriving from the intersection of water law principles with other state and federal laws, like the Endangered Species Act; and cases involving conflicts between water users whose operations compete for the same limited water supplies. We represent plaintiffs, intervenors and defendants at the administrative agency level and through all state and federal judicial levels of appeal.