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Water Law

Meyers Nave’s attorneys advise and defend clients on all aspects of the Clean Water Act, including 404 wetlands permitting and issues concerning the scope of “waters of the United States.” We help clients obtain and comply with CWA permits and administrative orders, and defend them in administrative appeals, regulatory enforcement actions, and state and federal litigation, including citizen suits, as both plaintiffs and defendants. One of our attorneys argued the first CWA case ever reviewed by the California Supreme Court. We advise on water supply assessments and verifications, and management, planning and control of resources (i.e., stormwater, wastewater, recycled water). Our advice on water rights issues includes the acquisition, transfer and protection of rights. We help clients respond to enforcement actions and competing claims to treated wastewater.

Our expertise includes:

  • Water Rights Acquisition and Defense
  • Groundwater Rights/Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
  • Water Transfers
  • Wastewater Change Petitions
  • Adjudications
  • Enforcement Defense
  • Water Supply Agreements
  • Water Rates, Charges, Assessments

Stormwater Permits
We advise on the reporting obligations for stormwater permits in California: municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permits, the California Industrial General Storm Water Permit (IGP), and the California Construction General Storm Water Permit (CGP). In relation to these permits, we (1) prosecute test claims before the Commission on State Mandates, seeking
reimbursement for compliance costs, (2) defend against allegations that stormwater discharges contributed to soil and groundwater contamination, (3) advise on the development of stormwater pollution prevention plans (SWPPPs), (4) retain and supervise consultants to develop and revise compliance documents and (5) help develop legal and technical responses to allegations that sampling results from an industrial facility exceed “benchmarks.”

Contaminated Site Groundwater Issues
Meyers Nave attorneys have experience with many types of contaminated sites with groundwater issues, from landfills to wastewater facilities to former lumber mills and industrial facilities, and in particular with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. We have litigated liability issues for groundwater contamination damages and cleanup under state and federal statutes as well as common law theories. Our expertise includes NPDES/WDR permitting, Basin Plans/TMDLs, “waters of the United States” jurisdiction, stormwater groundwater contamination/toxic tort defense, citizen suit defense, enforcement defense, wetlands/404 (permitting, delineations, species-related, 404(b) development, enforcement defense, mitigation, banking), streambed alteration permits, Safe Drinking Water Act, recycled water, Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures Plans (SPCC), Oil Pollution Act, and BCDC.

Representative Matters

  • Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power: CEQA and Water Rights Issues. We have represented the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) in litigation and transactional matters regarding recycled water, environmental permitting compliance and water rights on numerous projects. For example, we are counseling LADWP regarding its project to use 30,000 acre feet annually of recycled water to replenish the San Fernando Basin along with several other projects in the City’s recycled water master plan. We were litigation counsel in a lawsuit related to the Department’s water rights on Mammoth Creek and the Owens River and proposed actions by the Mammoth Community Services District that could affect those rights.
  • C/CAG and Alameda Countywide Clean Water Program: Stormwater
    Unfunded Mandates. We represent the City/County Association of Governments (C/CAG) of San Mateo County and the Alameda Countywide Clean Water Program as amicus curiae in the County of Los Angeles’ appeal pending before the California Supreme Court concerning the right of local agencies to obtain reimbursement for unfunded mandates imposed by the state in regional MS4 permits. We also represent member agencies of those organizations in test claim proceedings before the Commission on State Mandates seeking reimbursement for unfunded storm water mandates.
  • Irvine Ranch Water District v. Orange County Water District: Groundwater Pumping Dispute. We represent three groundwater pumpers in litigation initiated by a competing groundwater producer challenging the Orange County Water District’s administration of an unadjudicated basin. The plaintiff seeks relief that would alter the way recycled water use is considered in determining replenishment assessments on all groundwater producers in the basin to the detriment of most other producers, and also challenges the Orange County Water District’s right to regulate exports of groundwater from the basin. Our three clients support the current method of regulating the basin and intervened to oppose the relief sought by the plaintiff.
  • Town of Windsor: Russian River Water Rights and Agreements. We represent the Town of Windsor in acquiring appropriative water rights and re-negotiating the town’s water supply contract with Sonoma County Water Agency. In our role, we address the complex relationship between reservation water set aside by state filings, existing water supply contracts and endangered species biological opinions that affect in-stream flows.
  • Stormwater/Endangered Species Act Litigation. We represent a coalition of major agricultural interests and water districts in litigation against the City of Stockton and San Joaquin County, alleging the City and County’s stormwater discharges were resulting in limitations on water availability to agriculture and water districts. The seven-year litigation resulted in a settlement agreement that included precedent-setting requirements on the City and County. Monitoring of the agreed-to injunctive measures continues.
  • San Diego County Regional Airport Authority: Sediment Contamination. We represent the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority in negotiations with the Regional Water Quality Control Board regarding investigation of sediment contamination in San Diego Bay. The Regional Board alleges that PCBs and heavy metals were discharged from the Airport’s industrial storm water system into the Bay. The matter is ongoing and requires an understanding of the interplay between state and federal water quality laws, including amendments to the Water Quality Control Plan for Enclosed Bays and Estuaries of California, the Industrial General Storm Water Permit, the surrounding municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) and related permit, and the ongoing adoption of Total Maximum Daily Loads in the San Diego Bay.