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Water Rights

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
  • Waste Water Change Petitions
  • Adjudications
  • Enforcement Defense
  • Water Supply Agreements
  • Water Rates/Charges/Assessments

Representative Matters

  • Species, Wetlands and Clean Water Act Defense. A member of our team defended a private party that built an impoundment in Ukiah without necessary permits, with allegations by state and federal agencies of violations of the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act Section 404, Fish and Game Code 1603, and water diversion violations. He negotiated a settlement that required  payment of $30,000, down from the government’s initial demand of $1.5 million, and procurement of after-the-fact permits to allow the structure to remain.
  • Stormwater/Endangered Species Act Litigation. Meyers Nave represents 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.