Best Best & Krieger News Feed Best and Krieger is a Full Service Law Firmen-us15 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0800firmwise Water Law<p>Roderick E. Walston, who is of counsel at Best Best &amp; Krieger, is co-chair of, and a featured panelist at, CLE International&rsquo;s Western Water Law. During this two-day event, experts from around the West and the nation, who are actively shaping the direction of water supply and quality issues, will share their experience and insights into the myriad of complex and legal issues surrounding water in the West.</p> <p>These topics will be addressed:</p> <ul> <li>Perspectives on Federal Water Policy</li> <li>Ethics and Water Law</li> <li>Western Water Law Recap</li> <li>Federal Reserved Water Rights: Overview and Current Status</li> <li>Does the Reserved Rights Doctrine Apply to Groundwater?</li> <li>The Dispute Over the Rio Grande: Texas v. New Mexico</li> <li>California Adopts Groundbreaking Groundwater Legislation</li> <li>Regulation of Groundwater and Surface Water in Arizona</li> <li>How Are Western States Managing Water Supplies</li> <li>Federal Permitting and River Management</li> <li>Climate Change</li> <li>Water and Energy Development in Wyoming</li> <li>Endangered Species Act Issues: Delta Litigation in California</li> <li>Developments on the Clean Water Act</li> </ul> <p>Rod will be speaking on a panel titled &ldquo;Federal Reserved Water Rights&rdquo; on Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015 at 1:45 p.m.</p> <p><strong>When</strong><br /> Thursday, Feb. 19 &ndash; Friday, Feb. 20</p> <p><strong>Where</strong><br /> The Westin San Diego</p> <p>For more information or to register, visit the CLE event page by <a target="_blank" href=";src=Featured&amp;page=Western_Water_Law"><span style="color: #0000ff">clicking here</span></a>.</p>Conferences & Speaking Engagements19 Feb 2015 00:00:00 -0800 Attorneys Successfully Defend City Client from Brown Act and Other Claims<p>In <i>Ontario Mountain Village Association et al v. City of Ontario</i>, Best Best &amp; Krieger LLP attorneys Michelle Ouellette, Richard T. Egger and Sarah Owsowitz successfully defended the legality of an ordinance by the City of Ontario that extended by one-year the expiration dates for all development plans, conditional use permits and variance approvals. The extension was challenged in a lawsuit on the alleged grounds that the City violated the Ralph M. Brown Act and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The plaintiffs also alleged violation of their due process rights.</p> <p>The lawsuit was filed after the City approved extension of the expiration dates in December 2011 &mdash; as it had done several times previously to support development and economic recovery in the City. The plaintiffs claimed the City violated the Brown Act, which guarantees the public&rsquo;s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies, and their due process rights by failing to disclose a legal memorandum. They also alleged the City violated CEQA by not substantiating that the ordinance extending the expiration dates was exempt from environmental review, among other claims.</p> <p>As the trial court had done, the 2nd District Court of Appeal, in an opinion issued Dec. 11, sided with BB&amp;K attorneys and rejected all the plaintiffs&rsquo; claims.</p>Client Successes12 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0800 of Truth: One State, One Water Future<p>BB&amp;K Partner Eric Garner will be the keynote speaker and Partner Kelly Salt will be a panelist at the Association of California Water Agencies 2014 Fall Conference &amp; Exhibition Dec. 2-5.</p> <p>Kelly will be discussing &quot;Fairness and Equity in Recycled Water Rates&quot; on Wed., Dec. 3, from 2 - 3:15 p.m.</p> <p>Eric will present &quot;Groundwater Legislation: History in the Making or Another Dead End?&quot; at the luncheon on Thurs., Dec. 4, from 11:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. Statewide regulation of groundwater is one of the most important &ndash; and controversial &ndash; challenges facing this generation of water managers. That&rsquo;s why the groundwater legislation passed this year is so important, whether you were for it or not. This once-in-a-century statute will change how water is managed in California.</p> For more information or to register, visit the ACWA event page by <a target="_blank" href=""><span style="color: #0000ff">clicking here</span></a>.Conferences & Speaking Engagements02 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0800 2014 Fall Conference & Exhibition<p>BB&amp;K managing partner <b>Eric Garner</b> will serve as the keynote speaker during the Association of California Water Agencies&rsquo; 2014 Fall Conference. Partner <b>Kelly Salt</b> and Of Counsel<b> Joseph </b><strong>Byrne</strong> will participate on two separate panels discussing recycled water rates and water storage in California.</p> <p><b>BB&amp;K Speakers</b></p> <p>Eric Garner will deliver the keynote address on &ldquo;Groundwater Legislation: History in the Making or Another Dead End?&rdquo; from <b>11:45 a.m. &ndash; 1:15 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 4</b>. Eric will explore the impact the passing of the historic California groundwater legislation will have on water management and how to put this vital issue into a practical and historical perspective.</p> <p>Kelly Salt will appear as a panelist discussing &ldquo;Fairness and Equity in Recycled Water Rates&rdquo; from <b>2 -3:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 3</b>. The panel will discuss the various options available for public agencies for developing fair and equitable recycled water rates, and the impacts of Proposition 218 on implementing such rates.</p> <p>Joseph Byrne will sit on the Statewide Issue Forum &ldquo;Making Every Drop Count: The Future of Water Storage in California&rdquo; from <b>3:45 &ndash; 5 p.m. on Wednesday, December 3</b>. The forum will discuss new storage projects and how the state can make sure these projects maximize available resources.</p> <p><b>When:</b><br /> Tuesday, Dec. 2 - Thursday, &nbsp;Dec. 4</p> <p><b>Where: </b><br /> Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel<br /> 1 Market Place<br /> San Diego, CA 92101</p>Conferences & Speaking Engagements02 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0800 100 Law Firms with the Most Environmental Partners<p>Best Best &amp; Krieger ranked No. 32 on <i>Law360&rsquo;s</i> list of The 100 Law Firms with the Most Environmental Partners with 15 environmental partners. The list is for U.S.-based firms with partners who practice globally. <br /> <br /> The rankings were determined by the number of partners based on a survey of 300 U.S.-based law firms, including 198 of the largest 200 firms in the country. The partners have to spend at least 75 percent of their time on matters related to environmental law practice.</p> To see the full list on <i>Law360</i>, <a target="_blank" href=""><span style="color: #0000ff">click here</span></a>.BB&K In The News01 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0800, Pendulum, Swing: California's Historic Drought and Unprecedented Responses<p style="text-align: left"><b><u>Introduction</u></b></p> <p style="text-align: left">Most know by now that California is facing one of its driest years in recorded history. Yet droughts are not new to California, and to put things in context we can be thankful that current drought conditions are only as bad as they are.&nbsp;The &ldquo;dustbowl drought&rdquo; of the 1920s and 1930s nearly crippled the state. And even that could have been worse: tree-ring data show that centuries ago California and other western states were gripped by mega-droughts spanning 20 to 50 years.</p> <p style="text-align: left">Water is said to be our most critical natural resource (try going without it for a couple days).&nbsp;Ironically, however, it is something most Californians have taken for granted.&nbsp;But that dynamic is now beginning to change.&nbsp;Water education is catching up and catching on, and the conundrum we face with increasing demand and shrinking supply is practically impossible to ignore.&nbsp;Recent projections show the statewide population growing by almost 10 million over the next 20 years, to a total of 45 million.&nbsp;But the supply curve is going the other way.&nbsp;Over the last 10 years, various legal and regulatory decisions have substantially decreased the amount of water available from the State&rsquo;s largest water supply projects, the State Water Project (SWP), the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), and the Colorado River.</p> <p style="text-align: left">The SWP and CVP combined deliver water to more than 25 million people throughout California and to millions of acres of prime farmland in the Central and San Joaquin Valleys.&nbsp;Both projects require moving water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (the Delta), which has been subject to an increasing set of operating and delivery restrictions to protect in-Delta water users, water quality, and rare and endangered fish species in the Delta. &nbsp;Recent restrictions have resulted from biological opinions issued under the federal Endangered Species Act by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect Delta smelt and anadromous salmon. &nbsp;Delta water supplies are now also the subject of various state and federal court litigation.&nbsp;Supplies from the Colorado River are facing similar pressures. &nbsp;California shares the Colorado River with other states whose reliance on the system has increased as their populations have grown.&nbsp;Whereas California used to rely on &ldquo;surplus&rdquo; water from the Colorado, that surplus is gone, and the state must now live within its annual allotment of 4.4 million acre-feet per year.&nbsp;The Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), California&rsquo;s plan for the allocation, transfer, use, and conservation of its share of Colorado River water, was attacked through state and federal litigation for over a decade.&nbsp;Fortunately, the QSA withstood challenge, but the availability and reliability of Colorado River supplies continue to decline as problems relating to climate change, water quality, endangered species, and legal issues become more prevalent.</p> <p style="text-align: left">Add multi-year drought conditions to the equation, and suddenly everyone is talking about water.&nbsp;And for good reason.&nbsp;The winter and spring seasons of 2012-2013 were below normal and many knew &ldquo;things were going to get bad in California&rdquo; if the state did not have good rain and snowfall numbers in late 2013.&nbsp;But the rain and snow did not come.&nbsp;Indeed, the numbers were so dismally low that the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has declared the 2013-2014 period as the driest year in recorded history.&nbsp;In early 2014, a zero percent allocation was initially declared for the SWP, and the final allocation was bumped to a mere five percent.&nbsp;Vast portions of the CVP will go entirely without deliveries this year.&nbsp;As of early September, Lake Oroville (the largest SWP reservoir) was at 31 percent of capacity and Lake Shasta (the largest CVP reservoir) was at 28 percent of capacity.&nbsp;The San Luis Reservoir, a key south-of-Delta supply and regulating pool for the SWP and CVP, holds only 19 percent of capacity.</p> <p style="text-align: left">Throughout the state, many watersheds and surface water supplies are much drier than normal.&nbsp;Some areas are badly parched and others are literally out of water.&nbsp;In response, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) has taken regulatory action to limit diversions from certain river systems.&nbsp;And with less surface water available, many local agencies, businesses, and individuals are ramping up production from already strained or overdrafted groundwater supplies.&nbsp;For those who rely on groundwater, some have reached the bottom of the well, and there is nothing left to pump.&nbsp;This in turn has brought sweeping legislative reform to California&rsquo;s groundwater management laws.&nbsp;In addition, the drought has prompted aggressive state action to promote recycled water use and increase water conservation.</p> <p style="text-align: left">Current drought conditions have brought California to a crossroads.&nbsp;While opinions vary on which way to go, most agree that clear direction is needed. &nbsp;Big steps are being taken already, thrusting key legal and policy issues into the spotlight.</p> <p style="text-align: left"><b><u>The Governor&rsquo;s Declaration and Proclamation of Drought Emergency</u></b></p> <p style="text-align: left">On January 17, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of drought emergency (the Declaration) in response to record low water levels in California&rsquo;s rivers and reservoirs and an abnormally low snowpack.&nbsp;The Declaration took several extraordinary steps, including the following:</p> <ul> <li style="text-align: left">Directed local urban water suppliers and municipalities to immediately implement local water shortage contingency plans and update urban and agricultural water management plans;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Required DWR to undertake a statewide water conservation program to encourage Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Directed the State Board to expedite the processing of water transfers to enable the efficient use of water;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Instructed DWR and the State Board to accelerate funding for water supply enhancement projects that are capable of breaking ground this year;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Directed the State Board to place state water right holders on notice that they may be required to cease or reduce water diversions;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Required DWR to evaluate changing groundwater levels, land subsidence, and agricultural land fallowing as the drought persists and to provide a public update by April 30, 2014, to identify groundwater basins with water shortages;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Directed the California Department of Food and Agriculture to connect farmers to state and federal programs for assistance during the drought; and</li> <li style="text-align: left">Required the Governor&rsquo;s Drought Task Force to develop a plan to provide emergency food, financial assistance, and unemployment services in communities expected to suffer high levels of unemployment as a result of the drought.</li> </ul> <p style="text-align: left">The Governor&rsquo;s Declaration also exempted the state from compliance with aspects of water quality plans and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when undertaking certain actions necessary to make water immediately available during the drought.&nbsp;For example, the Declaration suspends CEQA from applying to the State Board&rsquo;s approval of petitions requesting water transfers and exchanges between users within the SWP and CVP.&nbsp;It also suspends CEQA from applying to State Board decisions to modify reservoir release requirements or diversion limitations in place to implement a water quality control plan.</p> <p style="text-align: left">On April 25, 2014, the Governor issued a Proclamation of a Continued State of Emergency (the Proclamation) due to persisting record-low water conditions and in anticipation of extended dry months throughout the summer.&nbsp;The Proclamation builds upon the January drought Declaration, and strengthens the state&rsquo;s ability to effectively manage water resources while calling on all Californians to redouble their efforts to conserve water.&nbsp;The Proclamation moved beyond the Declaration by further waiving CEQA compliance for certain actions taken by state agencies. Specifically, the Proclamation suspends CEQA to allow the following:</p> <ul> <li style="text-align: left">Processing of DWR and/or State Board requests to transfer water to areas of need;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Implementation of water reduction plans to reduce potable water usage for outdoor irrigation at recreational facilities and large institutional complexes;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Immediate monitoring of endangered species (such as the Sacramento River&rsquo;s winter-run Chinook salmon) by the Department of Fish and Wildlife;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Implementation of projects by DWR to benefit fish and wildlife impacted by the drought, including certain projects in priority watersheds designed to protect threatened and endangered species;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Implementation of pump-back water deliveries by DWR through SWP facilities on behalf of water districts;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Adoption of statewide general waste discharge requirements by the State Board to facilitate the use of recycled water and reduce demand on potable supplies;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Provision of DWR and State Board assistance to public agencies and private water companies to establish temporary water supply connections;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Implementation of an agricultural assistance program by the California Department of Food and Agriculture; and</li> <li style="text-align: left">Adoption of emergency regulations by the State Board relating to water conservation.</li> </ul> <p style="text-align: left">In addition, the Proclamation suspends CEQA for local agency actions necessary to implement measures recommended by the Department of Public Health to abate acute drinking water shortages, subject to certain conditions.&nbsp;The Proclamation also requires the State Board to direct any urban water suppliers that are not already implementing drought response plans to limit outdoor irrigation and other wasteful water practices, and to request an update from urban water suppliers on the effectiveness of their current actions to reduce water usage.</p> <p style="text-align: left"><b><u>The Groundwater Puzzle</u></b></p> <p style="text-align: left">Although California enacted a statewide surface water law in 1914 requiring permits for appropriative surface water diversions and use, the state has never broadly regulated groundwater.&nbsp;This is unusual because nearly all other states have some form of statewide groundwater regulation.&nbsp;The drought has forced many water users to seek alternative supplies, and in many parts of the state this has involved pumping more native groundwater, or using more water previously stored in a regional or local groundwater banking program. &nbsp;Yet increased production from a basin and/or multiple &ldquo;calls&rdquo; from a groundwater bank can lead to rapid groundwater level declines, competing demands for pumping and conveyance capacity, and water quality concerns. &nbsp;These issues, particularly without an enforceable management structure, can spark disputes between and among landowners, water providers, and other public agencies.</p> <p style="text-align: left">Several features of California groundwater law have contributed to the problem.&nbsp;First, landowner based rights to groundwater (overlying rights) are correlative, meaning in theory that each has a shared priority to make reasonable and beneficial use of the safe yield.&nbsp;However, because correlative rights are unquantified and any needed reductions are based on a standard of reasonableness that varies with the facts and circumstances of each basin, they create great uncertainty among landowners as to which pumpers will need to cut back and how much they will need to cut back when supplies are not sufficient to meet the collective demand.&nbsp;Furthermore, the threat of prescription pits overlying rights against non-overlying rights, such as those held by cities and other public water purveyors.&nbsp;This fosters a system where there is little information on pumping, it is unclear who has to cut back in a shortage, and thus pumpers have an incentive to keep pumping to protect their rights.&nbsp;Often these conditions can lead to overdraft and the many undesirable effects that result from overdraft.&nbsp;Ultimately, litigation is the only way to sort this out.&nbsp;While groundwater adjudications can have the positive effect of providing certainty and an efficient and effective management structure, they are very expensive and typically take a decade or more to resolve.</p> <p style="text-align: left">In early March 2014, the Governor&rsquo;s Office of Planning &amp; Research (OPR) sought stakeholder input on actions to improve groundwater management in California, consistent with the Governor&rsquo;s January 27 California Water Action Plan (Action Plan). &nbsp;A major objective of the Action Plan is to establish a legal framework to expand groundwater storage capacity and improve groundwater management. &nbsp;The Action Plan calls for state legislation to provide local and regional agencies with comprehensive groundwater management authority, and proposes allowing the state to temporarily assume groundwater management responsibility if local agencies fail to achieve &ldquo;sustainable management.&rdquo;&nbsp;OPR initiated a public process and sought written comments on a wide variety of questions relating to the Action Plan and a new approach for statewide groundwater management.</p> <p style="text-align: left">In March and April, OPR organized sustainable groundwater management workshops in Sacramento, facilitated by the California Environmental Protection Agency, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the California Natural Resources Agency.&nbsp;The workshops were attended by a diverse group of water leaders from the legislature, state and local government, agribusiness, water associations, and other interests. The discussions focused on (1) the potential definition of &ldquo;sustainable groundwater management,&rdquo; and how to measure progress and success in that arena; (2) tools, authorities, and incentives to help local agencies manage groundwater; (3) key funding mechanisms, barriers, and solutions; and (4) the state&rsquo;s role in assisting local agencies with groundwater management.&nbsp;In response to OPR&rsquo;s request for written comments,&nbsp;position papers were submitted by the Association of California Water Agencies, California Water Foundation, National Heritage Institute, Planning and Conservation League, Valley Agricultural Water Coalition, and others.</p> <p style="text-align: left">Soon after the close of the OPR workshop and comment process, on April 30, 2014, DWR released a report concluding that groundwater levels throughout the state had reached all-time historic lows and that many areas lacked adequate groundwater monitoring.&nbsp;The key conclusions of DWR&rsquo;s report were as follows:</p> <p style="text-align: left">1.&nbsp;&nbsp;Groundwater levels throughout the state have reached all-time historic lows.</p> <ul> <li style="text-align: left">Groundwater levels have decreased statewide since spring 2013;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Groundwater levels have decreased even more significantly since spring 2010;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Groundwater levels have dropped most significantly in the San Francisco Bay Hydrologic Region, the South Lahontan and South Coast areas, and the San Joaquin Valley;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Nevada, Placer and El Dorado counties have the greatest concentration of well deepening activity;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Thirty-six alluvial groundwater basins in the state serve as the primary water source for their regions and are most likely to incur drought-related shortages; these basins are in the North Coast, Central Coast, Sacramento River, Tulare Lake, and South Coast regions and serve a total population of about 6.18 million.</li> </ul> <p style="text-align: left">2.&nbsp; Areas throughout the state lack adequate groundwater monitoring.</p> <ul> <li style="text-align: left">Groundwater monitoring is critical for maintaining the health of basins, especially in drought conditions;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Only 169 out of 515 alluvial groundwater basins in the state are fully or partially monitored under the California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring (CASGEM) program;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Of the 126 high and medium priority groundwater basins, 40 are not monitored under CASGEM;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Some basins are partially monitored but have data gaps;</li> <li style="text-align: left">The lack of monitoring and absence of groundwater management plans subject these basins to increased stress under drought conditions.</li> </ul> <p style="text-align: left">The DWR report analyzed data from the CASGEM program, the Water Data Library, the draft Bulletin 160 California Water Plan Update 2013, and well drillers&rsquo; logs submitted to DWR. &nbsp;The report also notes that DWR is working with NASA and NOAA to evaluate land subsidence and agricultural land fallowing using satellite monitoring.&nbsp;DWR is required to issue a follow-up report by November 30, 2014, which will address areas where the drought has had significant impacts on groundwater resources.</p> <p style="text-align: left"><b><u>California Groundwater Legislation &ndash; Baby Steps to Full Sprint</u></b></p> <p style="text-align: left">As part of the November 2009 extraordinary legislative session, a new water law was enacted (SBX7-6, Water Code 10920 et seq.) which created the California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring (CASGEM) program.&nbsp;For the first time in state history, SBX7-6 established a requirement for local monitoring agencies to coordinate with DWR to collect and report groundwater elevation data that must be made available to the public.&nbsp;If local agencies do not volunteer or if they otherwise fail to perform the groundwater monitoring functions, DWR is authorized to assume those functions and the local agencies become ineligible for water grants or loans from the state.&nbsp;Many considered SBX7-6 to be the first &ldquo;baby step&rdquo; in what <i>some day</i> might lead to <i>some form</i> of a statewide groundwater management program.&nbsp;Yet few believed the baby would be sprinting like an NFL wide receiver in just a couple of years.</p> <p style="text-align: left">In Spring 2014, around the time OPR was conducting its public workshop and comment process discussed above, two bills swept into the legislative process that proposed to change California groundwater law as we have known it for the last 100 years. &nbsp;Senate Bill 1168 (Pavley; D-Agoura Hills) and Assembly Bill 1739 (Dickinson; D-Sacramento) would require local agencies to develop groundwater sustainability plans and create new enforcement tools for managing groundwater resources.&nbsp;SB 1168 and AB 1739 conveyed the same message:&nbsp;the state&rsquo;s current groundwater management system is broken.</p> <p style="text-align: left">In late August, after various amendments, and a last minute gut-and-amend to Senate Bill 1319 (Pavley, D-Agoura Hills), the Legislature passed SB 1168, AB 1739, and SB 1319 as a package to establish the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.&nbsp;The legislation was signed by the Governor on September 16, 2014.</p> <p style="text-align: left"><b><u>Summary and Key Components of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act</u></b></p> <p style="text-align: left">The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (the Act) declares that groundwater is a critical natural resource for the state and must be sustainably managed.&nbsp;The Act defines &ldquo;sustainable groundwater management&rdquo; as the management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be maintained during a 50-year planning and implementation horizon without causing &ldquo;undesirable results,&rdquo; such as &ldquo;significant and unreasonable&rdquo; lowering of water levels, reduction in storage capacity, seawater intrusion, degraded water quality, land subsidence, or depletions of interconnected surface water.&nbsp;The Act also states that sustainable management best occurs at the local level, but provides authority for state management when local agencies are unwilling or unable to implement the new requirements.&nbsp;For purposes of the Act, groundwater does not include subsurface water that flows in known and definite channels, which in large part is already subject to the permitting jurisdiction of the State Board.</p> <p style="text-align: left"><u>Application</u></p> <p style="text-align: left">The Act requires DWR to categorize each groundwater basin in the state, as identified and defined in DWR&rsquo;s Bulletin 118, as high, medium, low, or very low priority by January 31, 2015.&nbsp;All basins designated as high or medium priority <i>and</i> also designated in Bulletin 118 as being subject to critical conditions of overdraft must be managed under a groundwater sustainability plan or plans in accordance with the Act by January 31, 2020.&nbsp;All basins designated as high or medium priority <i>but not</i> also designated in Bulletin 118 as being subject to critical conditions of overdraft must be managed under the Act by January 31, 2022.&nbsp;Basins designated by DWR as low and very low priority are not subject to the requirements of the Act, but are &ldquo;encouraged&rdquo; to be managed under groundwater sustainability plans.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left">Certain adjudicated areas, and local agencies that conform to the requirements of those adjudications, are expressly exempt from the Act, subject to ongoing reporting requirements. &nbsp;To the extent authorized under federal or tribal law, the Act applies to Indian tribes and the federal government, but the Act provides that federally reserved water rights to groundwater &ldquo;shall be respected in full.&rdquo;&nbsp;The Act authorizes a groundwater sustainability agency to regulate, limit or suspend groundwater extractions from individual wells, but it does not authorize such agencies to make a binding determination of the water rights of any person or entity.</p> <p style="text-align: left"><u>Establishment of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies</u></p> <p style="text-align: left">The Act authorizes any local agency or a combination of local agencies overlying a basin to become a groundwater sustainability agency for that basin.&nbsp;A local agency is defined as a public agency having water supply, water management or land use responsibilities within the basin.&nbsp;Where a combination of local agencies seeks to form a single groundwater sustainability agency, it must be done pursuant to a joint powers agreement or other legal agreement.&nbsp;A water corporation regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission may participate in a groundwater sustainability agency formed by a combination of local agencies, but the local agencies must agree.&nbsp;For some areas of the state, specific agencies that already have been created by statute to manage groundwater are deemed by the Act to be the exclusive groundwater sustainability agencies within their respective boundaries, although such agencies may opt out of that role by providing notice to DWR.&nbsp;In that case, any other local agency or agencies may notify DWR of an election to be the groundwater sustainability agency in accordance with required procedures.</p> <p style="text-align: left">Any local agency or agencies electing to be a groundwater sustainability agency must first hold a noticed public hearing in the county or counties overlying the basin, and must submit a notice of intent to DWR describing the proposed boundaries of the basin (or portion thereof) that the agency or combination of agencies intends to manage.&nbsp;Within 30 days of electing to be or forming a groundwater sustainability agency, the agency must notify DWR, and provide a list of &ldquo;interested persons&rdquo; and an explanation of how their interests will be considered in the development and implementation of the agency&rsquo;s sustainability plan.&nbsp;Under the Act, interested persons include:&nbsp;agricultural water users; domestic well owners; municipal well owners; public water systems; local land use planning agencies; environmental users of groundwater; users of surface water with a hydrologic connection to groundwater; federal agencies; affected California Native American Tribes; disadvantaged communities; and entities monitoring and reporting groundwater elevations under the CASGEM program.</p> <p style="text-align: left"><u>Basin Coverage Under Groundwater Sustainability Plans</u></p> <p style="text-align: left">The Act identifies a clear legislative intent that the entirety of each high and medium priority groundwater basin must be covered by one or more groundwater sustainability plans. &nbsp;In other words, there can be no &ldquo;dead zones&rdquo; or unmanaged areas.&nbsp;In this regard the Act provides that a basin plan may be: (1) a single plan covering the entire basin developed and implemented by one groundwater sustainability agency; (2) a single plan covering the entire basin developed and implemented by multiple groundwater sustainability agencies; or (3) multiple plans implemented by multiple groundwater sustainability agencies and coordinated pursuant to a single coordination agreement that covers the entire basin.&nbsp;If multiple coordinated plans are prepared to cover a basin, the groundwater sustainability agencies must ensure that the plans utilize the same data and methodologies for developing assumptions regarding groundwater elevations, groundwater extractions, surface water supplies, total water use, changes in groundwater storage, water budget, and sustainable yield.</p> <p style="text-align: left">The Act mandates that in less than three years&mdash;by June 30, 2017&mdash;every portion of a high or medium priority basin must be covered by the boundaries of at least one groundwater sustainability agency.&nbsp;If an area within a basin is not within the management area of a groundwater sustainability agency, the county within which the unmanaged area lies is presumed to be the sustainability agency for that area, unless the county opts out of that role by notifying DWR.&nbsp;If an entire basin is not covered by one or more groundwater sustainable agencies by the June 30, 2017 deadline, groundwater extractions in that area become subject to specific reporting requirements, and the State Board may designate the basin as a &ldquo;probationary basin&rdquo; and step in to adopt an interim plan for the basin.</p> <p style="text-align: left"><u>Contents of Groundwater Sustainability Plans</u></p> <p style="text-align: left">Groundwater sustainability plans must include the following components:</p> <ul> <li style="text-align: left">The physical setting and characteristics of the aquifer system underlying the basin;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Measurable objectives, and interim milestones in five-year increments to achieve the sustainability goal in the basin within 20 years of implementation;</li> <li style="text-align: left">A planning and implementation horizon, defined by the Act as a 50-year time period over which a groundwater sustainability agency determines that plans and measures will be implemented in a basin to ensure it is operated within its sustainable yield;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Components relating to the monitoring and management of groundwater levels; groundwater quality, inelastic land surface subsidence, and changes in surface flow and surface water quality that directly affect groundwater levels or quality or are caused by groundwater extraction in the basin; mitigation of overdraft; how recharge areas contribute to basin replenishment; and surface water supplies used or available for groundwater recharge or in lieu use;</li> <li style="text-align: left">A summary of monitoring sites, type of measurements, and frequency of monitoring various factors;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Monitoring protocols designed to detect changes in groundwater levels, groundwater quality, inelastic surface subsidence, and flow and quality of surface waters that directly affect groundwater levels or quality or are caused by groundwater extractions in the basin; and</li> <li style="text-align: left">A description of how applicable county and city general plans have been considered and a description of the various adopted water resource-related plans and programs within the basin and an assessment of how the groundwater sustainability plan may affect such other plans and programs.</li> </ul> <p style="text-align: left">In addition, groundwater sustainability plans shall include basin-specific measures where appropriate, such as:</p> <ul> <li style="text-align: left">Control of saline water intrusion;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Wellhead protection and recharge areas;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Migration of contaminated groundwater;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Well construction, abandonment and destruction programs and policies;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Activities and opportunities for conjunctive use;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Measures addressing cleanup of groundwater contamination, groundwater recharge, diversions to storage, conservation, water recycling, conveyance, and extraction projects;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Efficient water management practices;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Efforts to develop relationships with state and federal regulatory agencies;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Processes to review land use plans and efforts to coordinate with land use planning agencies to assess activities that potentially create risks to groundwater quality or quantity; and</li> <li style="text-align: left">Impacts to groundwater dependent ecosystems.</li> </ul> <p style="text-align: left"><u>Adoption of Groundwater Sustainability Plans and DWR Review</u></p> <p style="text-align: left">Prior to initiating the development of a groundwater sustainability plan, the sustainability agency or agencies must notify the public, DWR, and any city or county located within the area to be covered by the plan about how interested parties may participate in the plan&rsquo;s development and implementation.&nbsp;The sustainability agency must also encourage the active involvement of diverse social, cultural, and economic communities within the groundwater basin prior to and during the development and implementation of the plan.</p> <p style="text-align: left">A groundwater sustainability plan may only be adopted after a public hearing held at least 90 days after notice was provided to any city or county within the area affected by a groundwater sustainability plan.&nbsp;Upon adoption of a plan, the groundwater sustainability agency must submit the plan to DWR for review.&nbsp;DWR must post the plan on its website and provide a 60-day public comment period.&nbsp;In addition, DWR must evaluate and issue an assessment of the plan within two years of submission and may include corrective actions to any perceived deficiencies in the plan.&nbsp;The Act also allows an adopting agency to file a validation action on its plan 180 days after the plan is adopted.</p> <p style="text-align: left"><u>Alternatives to Groundwater Sustainability Plans</u></p> <p style="text-align: left">The Act provides local agencies with alternatives to preparing a new groundwater sustainability plan, but the options are limited to:</p> <ul> <li style="text-align: left">A groundwater management plan prepared in accordance with Water Code 10750 et seq. (AB 3030) or other law authorizing groundwater management;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Management pursuant to an adjudicated action; or</li> <li style="text-align: left">A professional analysis of basin conditions that shows the basin has operated with sustainable yield for a period of at least 10 years.</li> </ul> <p style="text-align: left">An alternative plan must be submitted to DWR no later than January 1, 2017 for an assessment and evaluation by DWR to determine if the alternative satisfies the objectives of the Act.</p> <p style="text-align: left"><u>Powers of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies</u></p> <p style="text-align: left">Groundwater sustainability agencies that adopt sustainability plans will have broad new powers and authorities.&nbsp;The agencies &ldquo;may do anything necessary or proper&rdquo; to carry out the purposes of the Act, which includes the authority to:</p> <ul> <li style="text-align: left">Adopt rules, regulations, ordinances, and resolutions;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Conduct investigations to determine the need for groundwater management, including investigations of surface waters, groundwater, and surface and groundwater rights, and inspections of property or facilities by consent or through an inspection warrant;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Propose, update, and impose fees, and levy groundwater charges;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Require registration of and impose requirements on wells and other groundwater extraction facilities;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Require water measuring devices (i.e., meters) on all groundwater wells within the agency&rsquo;s boundaries;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Acquire, use, and dispose of real and personal property, such as land, rights-of-way, water rights, structures and infrastructure;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Import surface and/or groundwater into the agency, conserve and store water within or outside the agency, and purchase, transfer, deliver or exchange water or water rights of any type with any person to carry out any purposes of the Act;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Transport, reclaim, purify, desalinate, treat, or otherwise manage and control polluted water, wastewater, or other waters for subsequent use;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Control groundwater extractions by regulating, limiting, or suspending extractions from individual groundwater wells or wells in the aggregate;</li> <li style="text-align: left">Authorize temporary and permanent transfers of groundwater extraction allocations within the agency boundaries; and<br /> Enforce violations of the Act or agency rules, regulations, ordinances or resolutions, including the ability to impose civil penalties and bring legal actions.</li> <li style="text-align: left">The Act also provides groundwater sustainability agencies with broad financial powers.&nbsp;For example, sustainable agencies will be authorized to impose a wide variety of fees covering matters such as: permitting; groundwater extractions; preparation, adoption, and amendment of groundwater sustainability plans; investigations; inspections; compliance; enforcement; program administration; reserves; acquisition of lands or other property, facilities or services; and water supply, production, treatment or distribution.</li> </ul> <p style="text-align: left"><u>State Intervention</u></p> <p style="text-align: left">While the Act clearly acknowledges that sustainable groundwater management occurs best at the local level, if local agencies are either unwilling or unable to implement the new requirements of the Act, the state may step in.&nbsp;To this end, the Act provides the State Board with broad discretion to determine that a high or medium priority basin should be designated as a &ldquo;probationary basin&rdquo; and thereby trigger State Board management authority.&nbsp;When state action is required, the Act provides various mechanisms to return local control whenever feasible.</p> <p style="text-align: left"><u>CEQA Implications</u></p> <p style="text-align: left">The Act provides that the preparation and adoption of groundwater sustainability plans is exempt from CEQA, but any project that would implement actions taken pursuant to an adopted plan are <i>not</i> exempt from CEQA.</p> <p style="text-align: left"><b><u>Issues Unresolved by the New Act</u></b></p> <p style="text-align: left">The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will influence and affect other areas of California water law and policy.&nbsp;One key area is the legal intersection of water rights, water supply planning, and land use decision making.&nbsp;The drought creates legal, practical, and policy issues for land use planning. With the economy improving and entitlements and permitting on the rise, developers are seeking to demonstrate that they have sufficient water supplies for new construction. &nbsp;Various documents and analyses, prepared under various laws, are used to show water supply sufficiency for new projects. &nbsp;Examples include Urban Water Management Plans, Water Supply Assessments, Written Verifications, and water supply analyses under CEQA&mdash;all of which can be lightning rods for challenges to proposed development. &nbsp;These analyses generally address whether sufficient water supplies will be available to serve the proposed development and other existing and planned future uses over a 20-year projection during normal, single-dry and multiple dry periods, and whether the uses of surface water, groundwater, and other supplies identified to serve a project are likely to have a significant environmental impact on water resources. &nbsp;Drought conditions typically widen the divide between water resources and development, and often complicate a developer&rsquo;s ability to demonstrate water supply sufficiency under applicable legal standards.</p> <p style="text-align: left">The Act seeks to address this relationship.&nbsp;Yet, whether by design or oversight, the Act only scratches the surface of the inevitable overlap of a &ldquo;groundwater sustainability plan,&rdquo; other water supply sufficiency determinations, and the land use decision-making process.</p> <p style="text-align: left">Current general planning laws declare the importance of having close coordination and consultation between water supply agencies and land use approval agencies to ensure proper water supply planning for projects resulting in increased water demands.&nbsp;(Govt. Code &sect; 65352.5(a)-(b).)&nbsp;For the most part, this coordination process is found in the requirement that a city or county, prior to adopting or substantially amending its general plan, must refer the proposed action to the public water system that serves water to customers within the area covered by the proposal.&nbsp;(Govt. Code &sect; 65352(a)(7).)&nbsp;In turn, the public water system is required to submit the current versions of its Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP), Capital Improvement Plan, and other water-related information to the city or county, including:</p> <ul> <li style="text-align: left">A description of the source(s) of the total water supply currently available to the water provider by water right or contract, taking into account historical data concerning wet, normal, and dry runoff years;</li> <li style="text-align: left">A description of the quantities of surface water and groundwater purveyed by the water provider in each of the previous five years;</li> <li style="text-align: left">A description of all proposed additional sources of water for the water provider, including the estimated quantities and dates by which those additional supplies are expected;</li> <li style="text-align: left">A description of the total number of customers currently served by the water provider according to different categories of water users;</li> <li style="text-align: left">A quantification of the water provider&rsquo;s expected reduction in total water demand for each category of water customer associated with future implementation of water use reduction measures identified in the provider&rsquo;s UWMP; and</li> <li style="text-align: left">Any additional information relevant to determining the adequacy of existing and planned future water supplies to meet existing and planned future demands.&nbsp;(Govt. Code &sect; 65352.5(c).)</li> </ul> <p style="text-align: left">A similar requirement is for cities and counties, when adopting or substantially amending a general plan, to use &ldquo;as a source document&rdquo; any UWMP submitted by the public water provider, presumably for purposes of preparing the CEQA analysis related to the proposed land use action.&nbsp;(Govt. Code &sect; 65302.2.)</p> <p style="text-align: left">The Act amends the Government Code to require that cities and counties also consider any groundwater sustainability plan adopted under the Act that applies to the area affected by the city or county general plan.&nbsp;While this appears to be a sensible requirement, the Act does not address several other related issues.</p> <p style="text-align: left">For example, both UWMPs and the new groundwater sustainability plans are required to include detailed information and analyses regarding basin conditions, management efforts, and the sufficiency of groundwater supplies to serve existing and projected demands.&nbsp;However, different standards apply to these different planning documents, and they often will be prepared by different agencies.&nbsp;Despite the potential for inconsistent information, analyses, conclusions, and timing of preparation, the Act does not amend the UWMP Act to require the findings of a groundwater sustainability plan to be included within, relied upon, or accounted for in preparing an UWMP.&nbsp;Similarly, the Act does not require an agency developing a groundwater sustainability plan to consider the groundwater information, analyses or conclusions contained in a duly adopted UWMP.&nbsp;If the information and analyses of a UWMP and a groundwater sustainability plan are not in perfect harmony, the Act does not address whether a city or county must or should choose one over the other in preparing its general plan.&nbsp;The Act does provide that a groundwater sustainability plan does not supersede the land use decision making of a city or county, but it does not provide guidance on how the city weighs the evidentiary strength of both the UWMP and a sustainability plan.&nbsp;Thus, the potential for conflict and difficulties for cities or counties in charting an analytical path are heightened by the new requirements of the Act.</p> <p style="text-align: left">In a similar vein, the Act does not address the relationship between groundwater sustainability plans and project-level water supply sufficiency determinations made by retail water providers under the Water Supply Assessment (WSA) and Written Verification (WV) statutes.&nbsp;The WSA statute (commonly referred to as &ldquo;SB 610&rdquo;) and CEQA require a city or county undertaking CEQA review for certain projects defined by Water Code section 10912 to request a WSA from the public water system that will provide retail water service to the project.&nbsp;(Water Code &sect; 10910(b); Pub. Res. Code &sect; 21151.9.)&nbsp;The following types of projects trigger the need to prepare a WSA:</p> <ol> <li style="text-align: left">A residential development of more than 500 units;</li> <li style="text-align: left">A business/shopping center with more than 1,000 employees or more than 500,000 square feet of floor space;</li> <li style="text-align: left">A commercial office building with more than 1,000 employees or more than 250,000 square feet of floor space;</li> <li style="text-align: left">A hotel/motel with more than 500 rooms;</li> <li style="text-align: left">An industrial/manufacturing/processing plant or industrial park with more than 1,000 employees, encompassing more than 650,000 square feet of floor space, or occupying more than 40 acres of land (provided, until January 1, 2017, a photovoltaic or wind energy generation facility is not a project that requires a WSA if the facility would demand no more than 75 acre-feet of water annually);</li> <li style="text-align: left">A mixed-use development project that includes one or more of the projects specified in subsections (1) through (5) above;</li> <li style="text-align: left">A project that would demand an amount of water equivalent to, or greater than, the amount of water required by a 500 dwelling unit project; or</li> <li style="text-align: left">For a supplier with 5,000 or fewer connection, a project that will increase the number of connections by 10% or more.&nbsp;(Water Code &sect; 10912(a)-(b); State CEQA Guidelines &sect; 15155.)</li> </ol> <p style="text-align: left">Among other requirements, a WSA must provide comprehensive information and analyses regarding groundwater basin conditions, adjudicatory and/or&nbsp;management efforts regarding groundwater resources, and groundwater sufficiency.&nbsp;(Water Code &sect; 10910(f).)&nbsp;Once prepared and adopted by the public water system, the WSA must be provided to the city or county as the CEQA lead agency and included in the CEQA document being prepared for the proposed project.&nbsp;Based on the WSA and other evidence, the city or county must determine whether total projected water supplies, including groundwater, are sufficient to serve the project in addition to existing planned future uses.&nbsp;(Water Code &sect; 10911(b)-(c).)&nbsp;The WSA can also be used to evaluate a project&rsquo;s potential environmental impacts to groundwater resources under applicable CEQA standards.</p> <p style="text-align: left">The WV statute (commonly referred to as &ldquo;SB 221&rdquo;) requires a city or county to condition its approval of a development agreement or tentative map that includes a &ldquo;subdivision&rdquo; (a proposed residential development of more than 500 units) on the requirement that a sufficient water supply will be available to serve the project.&nbsp;(Govt. Code &sect;&sect; 65867.5; 66473.7.)&nbsp;Proof of a sufficient water supply must be based on a WV prepared by the public water system that will provide retail water service to the project.&nbsp;Like WSAs, a WV must provide comprehensive information and analyses regarding groundwater basin conditions, adjudicatory, and/or&nbsp;management efforts regarding groundwater resources, groundwater rights, and groundwater sufficiency.&nbsp;(Govt. Code &sect; 66473.7(c), (h).)&nbsp;Moreover, the WV statutes expressly provide that information and analyses from an UWMP and/or WSA can be used as evidence in support of the WV.&nbsp;(Govt. Code &sect; 66473.7(c).)</p> <p style="text-align: left">However, the Act does not amend the WSA statute, the WV statute, or CEQA to expressly require that the findings of a groundwater sustainability plan be included within, relied upon, or accounted for in preparing a WSA, WV, or water supply analysis under CEQA.&nbsp;Consequently, a number of questions unanswered by the Act arise:&nbsp;Is a WSA, WV, or CEQA analysis that fails to account for the framework and conclusion of a duly adopted groundwater sustainability plan &nbsp;invalid per se?&nbsp;Conversely, is a WSA, WV, or CEQA analysis that incorporates the findings of a groundwater sustainability plan valid per se for purposes of the information and conclusions regarding groundwater management, groundwater sufficiency, and potential groundwater impacts?&nbsp;If the information, analyses, or conclusions of a WSA, WV, or CEQA analysis are inconsistent with those of an adopted groundwater sustainability plan, how will those inconsistencies be resolved?</p> <p style="text-align: left">On this issue, the Act could signal an important shift in the traditional land use decision-making process.&nbsp;When the WSA and WV statutes were adopted in 2001, both included express provisions that gave cities and counties the final say in whether sufficient water supplies exist to serve a proposed project.&nbsp;(See Water Code &sect; 10911(c); Govt. Code &sect; 66473.7(b)(3), (f).)&nbsp;Those provisions were specifically included to ensure that water agencies would not be empowered with a decision that ultimately could determine whether or not a land use decision is approved.</p> <p style="text-align: left">Under the Act, when a city or county proposes to adopt (or substantially amend) its general plan, a groundwater sustainability agency (which could be the local water supply agency) must provide a report on the &ldquo;<i>anticipated effect</i>&rdquo; of the proposed land use action on the groundwater sustainability plan.&nbsp;In preparing a sustainability plan, the Act requires the plan to &ldquo;take into account&rdquo; the most recent planning assumptions stated in local general plans of jurisdictions overlying the basin.&nbsp;But this does not require a sustainability plan to <i>use</i> the same planning assumptions as the general plans, nor does it provide a mechanism to prevent the two documents from repeatedly chasing and potentially working at odds with each other.&nbsp;Thus, the evidentiary effect of the sustainability agency&rsquo;s report and whether the city or county acting as the lead agency under CEQA must or should agree with the findings of the sustainability agency are not&nbsp;resolved by the Act.&nbsp;On the one hand, the Act states that a sustainability plan shall not be interpreted as superseding the land use authority of cities and counties or their general plans.&nbsp;On the other hand, the Act requires the groundwater sustainability agency to report on the anticipated effect of the general plan proposal on the 50-year sustainability plan.&nbsp;Whether groundwater management agencies could seek to use the Act as a trump card or as leverage in certain land use decisions by cities and counties remains to be seen.</p> <p style="text-align: left">The opposite effect is also possible.&nbsp;Assuming a city or county wants to rely upon and incorporate the findings of a groundwater sustainability plan, it must beware the fruit of a poisonous tree.&nbsp;This potential complication has arisen in connection with the relationship between UWMPs and project-specific water supply analyses.&nbsp;On the one hand, WSAs, WVs, and CEQA analyses can be buttressed by the information and conclusions of a current UWMP.&nbsp;On the other hand, if the legal sufficiency of the UWMP has been challenged or if the UWMP is otherwise deficient, subsequent project-specific analyses can get caught in the crossfire.&nbsp;As the Courts of Appeal have noted:</p> <p style="text-align: left">If an UWMP is inadequate the public and the various governmental entities that rely on the UWMP may be seriously misled by it and, if the wrong set of circumstances occur, the consequences to those who relied on the UWMP, as well as those who share a water supply with them, could be severe.&rdquo;&nbsp;(<i>Sonoma County Water Coalition v. Sonoma County Water Agency</i> (2010) 189 Cal.App.4th 33, 61-62; quoting <i>Friends of the Santa Clara River v. Castaic Lake Water Agency</i> (2004) 123 Cal.App.4th 1, 15.)</p> <p style="text-align: left">Groundwater sustainability plans substantially affect a wide variety of stakeholders, and thus may be controversial.&nbsp;If such a plan is legally challenged, it may cloud the record for purposes of preparing UWMPs, WSAs, WVs, and water supply analyses under CEQA that seek to rely on the challenged plan.</p> <p style="text-align: left"><b><u>Drought Response Actions on Surface Water, Reclaimed Water, and Public Conservation</u></b></p> <p style="text-align: left">In addition to the proposals for regulating groundwater, state agencies have been acting in response to the drought on measures to conserve surface water, promote the use of recycled water, and mandate public conservation efforts.</p> <p style="text-align: left"><u>New Curtailment Orders for Surface Water Diversions</u></p> <p style="text-align: left">Drought conditions are also affecting surface water rights in unprecedented ways.&nbsp;In parallel with the Governor&rsquo;s January 2014 Declaration of drought emergency, on January 17, 2014, the State Board announced that it may issue &ldquo;curtailment notices&rdquo; requiring holders of surface water rights to limit or stop diversions under their water rights permits.&nbsp;The announcement advised water rights holders to seek out alternative water supplies, including groundwater, purchased water, and recycled water.&nbsp;The curtailment process is designed to follow California&rsquo;s &ldquo;first in time, first in right&rdquo; surface water right system.&nbsp;Junior water rights holders are generally those with water rights granted after 1914, which is when the state began regulating and permitting surface water diversions on a statewide level.&nbsp;Senior water rights holders are generally those whose surface water rights existed before 1914 and those with riparian rights who own property adjacent to water courses.&nbsp;Under a curtailment notice, junior water rights holders can be ordered to limit or stop diverting water.&nbsp;Curtailment orders also require the completion of a compliance certification form.</p> <p style="text-align: left">On July 2, 2014, the State Board adopted emergency regulations to provide a more streamlined process to curtail surface water diversions to prevent the unreasonable method of diversion or use of water such that appropriate minimum amounts of water are available for (1) senior water right users, (2) public trust needs for state and federally protected fish, and (3) minimum health and safety needs.</p> <p style="text-align: left">As of this writing, the State Board has issued curtailment notices and orders for post-1914 appropriative water rights in the Mill, Deer, and Antelope Creek watersheds, the Scott River Watershed, the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds, the Russian River watershed, and the Eel River watershed.&nbsp;Those who divert water in violation of a curtailment order or beyond their senior legal rights are subject to administrative fines, cease and desist orders, and court action.&nbsp;Under the emergency regulations, the State Board is authorized to impose fines of $1,000 per day per violation, and $2,500 for each acre-foot diverted or used in excess of a valid water right. &nbsp;(See Water Code &sect;&sect; 1052, 1055.)&nbsp;In addition, failure to comply with a cease and desist order is punishable by a fine of $10,000 per day.&nbsp;(See Water Code &sect;&sect; 1831, 1845.)</p> <div style="text-align: left"><u><br clear="all" /> </u></div> <p style="text-align: left"><u>State Board Efforts to Streamline Recycled Water Use Permits</u></p> <p style="text-align: left">On June 3, 2014, as another response to the Governor&rsquo;s Declaration and Proclamation of continued emergency, the State Board adopted a General Order that enables Regional Water Quality Control Boards to streamline the permitting process for recycled water uses.</p> <p style="text-align: left">The General Order establishes standard conditions for certain uses of recycled water which, according to the State Board, relieves producers, distributors, and users of recycled water from the often lengthy permitting and approval process.&nbsp;The General Order applies to most non-potable uses of treated municipal wastewater found in Title 22 of California&rsquo;s Code of Regulations, such as dust control, agricultural irrigation, landscape irrigation, cooling towers, and other industrial processes.&nbsp;The General Order does not provide permitting coverage for groundwater recharge.</p> <p style="text-align: left">All recycled water use under the General Order must be consistent with applicable Salt and Nutrient Management Plans approved by the Regional Boards, and any violations of the General Order are subject to enforcement action.&nbsp;The State Board indicates that recycled water use under the General Order will help the state meet its water recycling goals in the California Water Action Plan.&nbsp;Pursuant to the Governor&rsquo;s emergency drought declarations, adoption of the General Order was exempt from CEQA review.</p> <p style="text-align: left"><u>Emergency Regulations for Statewide Water Conservation</u></p> <p style="text-align: left">On July 15, 2014, the State Board adopted emergency regulations for water conservation regulations.&nbsp;The regulations apply to individuals, urban water suppliers (a supplier providing water for municipal purposes directly or indirectly to more than 3,000 customers or supplying more than 3,000 acre-feet of water annually), and other distributors of public water that are not defined as urban water suppliers (including publicly and privately owned water suppliers and mutual water companies).</p> <p style="text-align: left">As to individuals, the regulations prohibit the application of water to outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes visible runoff, the use of a hose to wash an automobile except where the hose is equipped with a shut-off nozzle, the application of potable water to driveways and sidewalks, and the use of potable water in non-recirculating decorative water fountains. Violations would be punishable by a fine of up to $500 for each day in which the violation occurs, although local agencies retain their enforcement discretion in enforcing the regulations.</p> <p style="text-align: left">As to urban water suppliers, the regulations require each supplier to implement all requirements and actions of the stage of its water shortage contingency plan that imposes mandatory restrictions on outdoor irrigation of ornamental landscapes or turf with potable water.&nbsp;As an option, urban water suppliers may develop an alternate plan that does not include mandatory restrictions on outdoor irrigation if allocation-based water rate structures, combined with other measures, achieve a level of conservation that would be greater than that achieved by limiting outdoor irrigation to two days per week. &nbsp;For urban water suppliers without a water shortage contingency plan or with an insufficient plan, and for all distributors of public water supplies, the regulations require, within 30 days, the implementation of limits on outdoor irrigation of ornamental landscapes or turf with potable water to no more than two days per week, or other conservation measures to achieve a reduction in water consumption from 2013 levels.</p> <p style="text-align: left">The regulations also require all urban water suppliers to submit a monthly monitoring report to the State Board, indicating the amount of potable water produced (including water provided by a wholesale agency) in the preceding month and an estimate of the gallons of water used per person per day. &nbsp;Further, the initial report must state the number of people served by the urban water supplier.</p> <p style="text-align: left">Depending on local water supply portfolios, the State Board&rsquo;s emergency regulations may require many water providers to declare water shortage emergencies and impose mandatory conservation, rationing or allocation-based water pricing (many already have voluntary measures in place). &nbsp;The authority to impose these restrictions derives from specific provisions of the Water Code, general police powers, and other express powers of special act agencies. &nbsp;Legal challenges may arise as water supply agencies seek to allocate limited supplies and the effects of those efforts begin to manifest.</p> <p style="text-align: left"><b><u>Conclusion</u></b></p> <p style="text-align: left">California&rsquo;s historic drought is eliciting historic and unprecedented responses from the Legislature, the Governor, the State Water Resources Control Board, the courts, and interested parties throughout the state.&nbsp;The drought highlights the reality we face in California, where water demands will continue to increase, while supplies will continue to face both hydrologic and regulatory constraints.&nbsp;This growing tension between demand and supply will bring challenges, opportunities, and a host of consequences.&nbsp;Fasten your seatbelts as California water law speeds into the 21<sup>st</sup> century.</p> <p style="text-align: left; margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><i><font face="Calibri">*This article originally appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of Environmental Law News, a publication of the State Bar of California&rsquo;s Environmental Law Section. Reprinted with permission.</font></i></p> <p style="text-align: left; margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><i><font face="Calibri"><o:p></o:p></font></i></p>BB&K In The News01 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0800 Water Laws to a World of Water Scarcity<p>Best Best &amp; Krieger Managing Partner Eric Garner was one of the invited speakers to the United Nations Environment for Development 1st International Environment Forum for Basin Organizations in Nairobi, Kenya from Nov. 26&ndash;28, 2014. The Forum&nbsp;brought together key stakeholders in the management of freshwater basins from all around the globe, such as ministers of water and the environment, heads of basin organizations and water directors, heads of national delegations to transboundary basin organizations, UN Agencies and other relevant international organizations, financial institutions, MEA Secretariats, civil society and academia.</p> <p>The primary objective of the Forum was to strengthen basin organizations as key building blocks for environmental governance. Basin Organizations are crucial in supporting the implementation of internationally agreed environmental goals and objectives embedded in many Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) as well as in national and basin-wide water management schemes.</p> <p>Eric discussed &ldquo;Adapting Water Laws to a World of Water Scarcity&rdquo; during the Laws and Regulations Theme. The discussion focused primarily on a) effective and adaptive legal and institutional frameworks to address the ever increasing challenges and complexities associated with managing water resources, and b) how basin organizations can positively contribute to the implementation of international water law, multilateral environmental agreements and internationally accepted environmental principles.</p> <p>For more information, please <a target="_blank" href=""><span style="color: #0000ff">click here.</span></a></p>Conferences & Speaking Engagements26 Nov 2014 00:00:00 -0800's Not Easy Being (Legally) Green - Understanding Legal and Practical Issues Related to Green Infrastructure<p>Best Best &amp; Krieger LLP Partner Shawn Hagerty was among the speakers at NACWA&rsquo;s three-day National Clean Water Law Seminar. He was on a panel titled &ldquo;It&rsquo;s Not Easy Being (Legally) Green &ndash; Understanding Legal and Practical Issues Related to Green Infrastructure.&rdquo;</p> <p>The use of green infrastructure (GI) has rapidly become a mainstream, acceptable solution by both the municipal utility community and federal/state regulators to achieve &ndash; in conjunction with gray infrastructure &ndash; key CWA requirements. But what about the legal considerations associated with &ldquo;going green?&rdquo; Utilities must evaluate a number of different legal factors when using green infrastructure - especially on private property - such as zoning and land use regulations, easements with private owners, maintenance agreements, and liability concerns. There was also the issue of what happens if the GI doesn&rsquo;t work the way it is supposed to and permit terms are violated.</p> <p><strong>When</strong><br /> Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014<br /> 11 a.m.</p> <p><strong>Where</strong><br /> The Loews Don CeSar Hotel<br /> St. Pete Beach, Florida</p> <p>For more information, <a target="_blank" href=";view=article&amp;id=2023&amp;Itemid=535"><span style="color: #0000ff">click here</span></a>.</p>Conferences & Speaking Engagements20 Nov 2014 00:00:00 -0800 Works in Conservation: Tools for Rethinking Water, Quantifying Value, and Thriving in our Landscapes<p>Best Best &amp; Krieger is proud to have sponsored and participated in the 69th Annual California Resource Conservation Districts Meeting &amp; Conference. The event was held from Nov. 12 &ndash; 14, 2014 in Ventura, Calif. Highlighting the key conservation issues in Southern California, participants shared ideas on what works in conservation and have the opportunity to advance statewide partnerships.</p> <p><strong>BB&amp;K Speakers</strong></p> <p>Thurs., Nov. 13, 2014<br /> 3 &ndash; 4:15 p.m.<br /> &ldquo;Rethinking Water: Strategies to Build an Equitable, Reliable, and Clean Water Source&rdquo;<br /> <b>Steven Anderson</b> will discuss the recent groundwater legislation.</p> <p>Fri., Nov. 14, 2014<br /> 8:30 &ndash; 9:30 a.m.<br /> &ldquo;Support for New Conservation Properties and Beginning Agricultural Professionals&rdquo;<br /> <b>Steven G. Martin</b> and <b>Ward Simmons</b> will discuss due diligence for conservation properties.</p> <p>Fri., Nov. 14, 2014<br /> 8:30 &ndash; 9:30 a.m.<br /> &ldquo;Creating Healthy CityScapes: Building Partnerships to Address Regional and Specific Urban Conservation Storm Water Management: Working with Cities to Relieve Regulatory Pressure&rdquo;<br /> <b>Shawn Haggerty</b> will discuss municipalities and water quality.</p> <p><strong>Where:</strong><br /> Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach<br /> For more information, please visit the CARCD event page by <a target="_blank" href=""><span style="color: #0000ff">clicking here</span></a>.</p>Conferences & Speaking Engagements13 Nov 2014 00:00:00 -0800 Groundwater Legislation Update: Comments Recommended Regarding Groundwater Basin Prioritization<p>Under the new groundwater legislation, the California Department of Water Resources must establish the initial priority for each groundwater basin in the state no later than Jan. 31. Those basins that are ultimately designated as high or medium priority will be subject to groundwater sustainability plans to be adopted no later than Jan. 31, 2020, in some cases, or Jan. 31, 2022 in others.</p> <p>Preliminary priorities for each groundwater basin, including many sub-basins, have been compiled as part of DWR&rsquo;s California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring (CASGEM) program. The listing of those preliminary priorities can be found <a target="_blank" href=""><span style="color: #0000ff">here</span></a>. Other information about groundwater basins can be found in DWR&rsquo;s <a target="_blank" href=""><span style="color: #0000ff">Bulletin 118</span></a> (&ldquo;California&rsquo;s Groundwater&rdquo;).</p> <p>There is an expectation that most, if not all, of these preliminary priorities will be adopted officially by DWR early next year, barring information coming to light that challenges those preliminary priorities.</p> <p>If public agencies or others wish to dispute the preliminary high, medium, low or very low priority status of groundwater basins upon which they rely, comment letters should be submitted to DWR as soon as possible. In setting those priorities, DWR will examine not only water levels, water quality, extraction patterns, current demand and other technical information, but also the population overlying the basin, projected growth, irrigated acreage and other information.</p> <p>Agencies may also wish to submit comments to DWR regarding groundwater basin boundaries, particularly if there is scientific dispute about the precise location of such boundaries. Under the new legislation, basin boundaries will be set as identified in DWR <a target="_blank" href=""><span style="color: #0000ff">Bulletin 118</span></a> unless a local agency requests that DWR revise boundaries and submits technical and other information supporting a boundary adjustment.</p> <p>Best Best &amp; Krieger attorneys are here to assist with the preparation of comment letters regarding groundwater basin prioritization and boundaries. For further information, please contact the attorney authors of this legal alert listed at right in the <a target="_blank" href=";LPA=492&amp;format=xml"><span style="color: #0000ff">Environmental Law and Natural Resources practice group</span></a> or <a target="_blank" href=""><span style="color: #0000ff">your BB&amp;K attorney</span></a>.</p> <p><i>Disclaimer: BB&amp;K legal alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this communiqu&eacute;.</i></p> <b><i>Best Best &amp; Krieger&rsquo;s Water Rights</i></b><i> practice is a nationally recognized force in water law since James Krieger&rsquo;s significant role in implementing the California State Water Project in the 1960s. As general counsel to water providers, BB&amp;K represents dozens of public agencies that serve water to more than 21 million people, in addition to countless developer, agricultural and manufacturing clients. We regularly advise public agency and private clients on all aspects regarding allocation of scarce water supplies.</i>Legal Alerts12 Nov 2014 00:00:00 -0800 Pass Proposition 1 - Water Supply and Infrastructure Bond: Is Your Agency's Water Project Eligible for Funds?<p>On Tuesday, California voters passed Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, which allocates $7.5 billion for a water quality, supply and infrastructure improvement program to help fund certain water projects.</p> <p>In an effort to address California&rsquo;s dwindling water supplies, the Act makes the following allocations:</p> <ul> <li>$520 million for projects to improve water quality and wastewater treatment, and to provide more reliable safe drinking water;</li> <li>$2.7 billion for water storage projects to be selected by the California Water Commission through a competitive ranking process;</li> <li>$1.495 billion for watershed protection and restoration projects;</li> <li>$900 million for groundwater cleanup and management;</li> <li>$810 million for integrated regional water management, water conservation and stormwater capture;</li> <li>$725 million for water recycling projects and facilities; and</li> <li>$395 million for flood management projects.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>In addition to other specific criteria under each project category, projects benefitting disadvantaged communities are given priority for funds under all of the categories.</p> <p>Agencies seeking Proposition 1 funding will need to evaluate how their projects will be prioritized and ranked for eligibility based on the criteria used for each category of funding. &nbsp;Among other criteria, the State will consider the availability of additional federal, local or private funding for eligible projects, and an evaluation of projects&rsquo; technological and economic feasibility. &nbsp;</p> <p>With more than 100 years of experience representing public agencies, and its national reputation on water and environmental issues, BB&amp;K is equipped to assist public agencies in their efforts to receive funding for water projects under the Act. Among other areas, BB&amp;K stands ready to assist in the following:</p> <ul> <li>Helping to determine which of your agency&rsquo;s water quality, supply and/or infrastructure projects may be eligible for funding under the Act, which review criteria will apply and whether the projects may be eligible for priority.</li> <li>Assessing whether a particular project is subject to cost-sharing requirements under the Act, and how the requirements may be satisfied.</li> <li>Ensuring that projects comply with the limitations placed on funds and how funds received under the Act may be used by agencies.</li> <li>Assisting agencies with public consultation, notice, public hearing and other public outreach to comply with all open meeting/public hearing/notice requirements.</li> <li>California Environmental Quality Act, review of approved projects.</li> </ul> <p>For more information about how&nbsp;this bond&nbsp;may affect your agency, please contact one of the attorney authors of this legal alert listed at right in the <a target="_blank" href=";LPA=492&amp;format=xml"><span style="color: #0000ff">Environmental Law &amp; Natural Resources</span></a> or <a target="_blank" href=";LPA=487&amp;format=xml"><span style="color: #0000ff">Special Districts</span></a> practice groups, or <a target="_blank" href=""><span style="color: #0000ff">your BB&amp;K attorney.</span></a></p> <p><i>Disclaimer: BB&amp;K legal alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this communiqu&eacute;.</i></p>Legal Alerts05 Nov 2014 00:00:00 -0800 of $7.5B water bond up to voters<p>On Tuesday, California voters will decide whether to adopt Proposition 1. The proposition &shy;called the Water, Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2o14 - would make S7.5 billion available for urgently needed for water storage, infrastructure rehabilitation, and other projects, many of which have taken on new importance given current drought conditions. A recent Public Policy Institute of California poll found that 56 percent of potential voters support Prop. 1, while only 32 percent oppose.</p> <p>Prop. 1, if approved, will authorize the state to issue bonds and prepare guidelines regarding the projects that will be eligible for a share of the S7.5 billion. The water bond replaces a previous $7.5 billion water bond proposal that never made it to the ballot.</p> <p>If the water bond is adopted, projects that leverage private, federal or local funding, or projects that produce the greatest public benefit, will get funding priority. Projects that employ new or innovative technologies or practices will get special consideration. In addition, substantial bond funding is reserved for disadvantaged communities and economically distressed areas. The water bond may also support projects that lack multiple sources of funding (i.e., those without local matching funding).</p> <p><i>To read the full article in the Daily Journal, which ran Nov. 3, 2014, <a target="_blank" href=""><span style="color: #0000ff">click here</span></a>&nbsp;(subscription required).</i></p>BB&K In The News03 Nov 2014 00:00:00 -0800 in Drought: Development, Legislation and Litigation<p>BB&amp;K Managing Partner <b>Eric Garner</b>, who was the program chair of the event, and Partners <b>Paeter Garcia</b> and <b>Kelly Salt</b> participated in some of the panel discussions during this day-long seminar. This year is being touted as California&rsquo;s single driest year on record and severe drought conditions have brought the state to a crossroads. Is drought now going to be the new normal in California? This program&nbsp;helped attendees understand the impacts of drought on the competing needs of urban, agricultural and environmental water users. A diverse group of water leaders from state and local government, water associations, the legislature and engineers and attorneys&nbsp;provided their insight on the legal and policy issues facing the state&rsquo;s surface water, groundwater and alternative water supplies.</p> <p><b>BB&amp;K Speakers:</b><br /> <br /> Eric Garner delivered the event&rsquo;s opening introduction and overview at 9 a.m. At 11:30 a.m., he moderated the discussion &ldquo;The Groundwater Conundrum,&rdquo; which explored the following topics:</p> <ul> <li>Groundwater Use in an Arid State (Availability, Rights, Uses, Reserves and Overdraft)</li> <li>Whiskey is for Drinking (Adjudications Past, Present and Future)</li> <li>Common Ground (Groundwater Management Plans; Special Legislation; State Oversight)</li> </ul> <p>Paeter Garcia appeared as a panelist at 3 p.m. for a discussion titled, &ldquo;The Perfect Non-Storm: Permitting Development in Drought Conditions.&rdquo; Topics discussed included:</p> <ul> <li>California Growth and Related Development</li> <li>Tall Task for Water Supply Planning (Urban Water Management Plans; General Plans)</li> <li>Preparing Defensible Water Supply Analyses (Water Supply Assessments; Written Verifications; CEQA Analysis)</li> </ul> <br type="_moz" /> To see Paeter's PowerPoint presentation, <a target="_blank" href="88E17A/assets/files/Documents/Garcia PP.pdf"><span style="color: #0000ff">click here</span></a>. <br /> Watch &ldquo;The Perfect Non-Storm: Permitting Development in Drought Conditions&rdquo; by <a target="_blank" href=""><font color="#0000ff">clicking here</font></a>.<br type="_moz" /> <br /> Kelly Salt participated on a panel at 4 p.m. called, &ldquo;Pricing the Way through a Water Shortage.&rdquo; Issues covered included: <ul> <li>Declaring Water Shortage and Emergency Conditions (Ordinances, Conservation, Rationing)</li> <li>Pricing Structures and Challenges</li> <li>Public Issue with Private Implications</li> </ul> <br /> To see Kelly's PowerPoint presentation, <a target="_blank" href="88E17A/assets/files/Documents/Salt PP.pdf"><span style="color: #0000ff">click here</span></a>.<br type="_moz" /> <p><b>Credits: </b><br /> CA CLE: 6.25 General CLE credits<br /> CDPH: 6.0 contact hours</p> <p><b>Topics Covered: </b></p> <ul> <li>Drought Response</li> <li>Environmental</li> <li>Groundwater Use and Management</li> <li>Stormwater and Greywater</li> <li>Water Purchases and Transfers</li> <li>Water Shortage and Emergency Conditions</li> </ul> <p><b>Who Should Attend:</b></p> <ul> <li>Attorneys/Legal Staff</li> <li>State and Municipal Officials</li> <li>Water Operators</li> <li>Developers/Land Owners</li> <li>Farmers/Ranchers</li> <li>Environmentalists</li> <li>Utility Managers</li> <li>Planners</li> </ul> <p><b>Where: </b><br /> <br /> DoubleTree by Hilton LA Downtown<br /> 120 S. Los Angeles St.<br /> Los Angeles, CA 90012</p> <p>For more information&nbsp; please click <a target="_blank" href=""><u><span style="color: #0000ff">here</span></u></a>.</p>Conferences & Speaking Engagements30 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0800 rail isn't full steam ahead just yet<p>The state Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal challenging the validity of the bond authorization approved by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to help fund a $68 million high-speed rail project. The decision validates the authorization to issue bonds by the High-Speed Rail Authority, the state agency responsible for administration and oversight of the project, and allows the project to move beyond the preliminary planning stages.</p> <p>But additional challenges still exist regarding the funding sources for the project, which will provide passenger rail service from Northern California to Southern California in less than three hours. This includes the 3rd District Court of Appeal declining to rule on whether the bond proceeds are being spent by the agency in accordance with Proposition 1A and other pending legal challenges.</p> <p>Efforts to fund the project have been underway for more than a decade. In 2002, Senate Bill 1856 authorized the issuance of a $9.95 billion bond measure to finance a high-speed rail system in California. Not until 2008, though, did Prop. 1A, titled the &quot;Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century&quot; get on the ballot, where it was approved by nearly 53 percent of voters. Prop. 1A allocates $9.95 billion to the agency, of which $9 billion must be used to construct the rail line from San Francisco to Los Angeles, with the remaining funds to be spent on improving local railroad systems that will connect to the high-speed rail system.</p> <p><i>To read the full article in the Daily Journal, which ran Oct. 27, 2014, <a target="_blank" href=""><span style="color: #0000ff">click here</span></a> (subscription required).</i></p>BB&K In The News27 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0800 & Environmental Associate - Sacramento<p>We have an immediate opening for an associate with 2-3 years of experience in municipal law (both transactional/advisory and litigation) and water law (water rights, supply and quality). Background in agriculture a plus.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> Qualified applicants are invited to apply online ONLY by clicking the link below. Applicants must attach a resume, transcript and cover letter to be considered for employment. This self-apply feature is compatible with Internet Explorer 6, 7, 8 &amp; 9, Mozilla Firefox for Windows, or Safari for Macintosh.<br /> <br /> <a target="_blank" href=";%3db8=8_CG"></a></p> <p>Please address your cover letter to:<br /> <br /> <strong>Jill N. Willis<br /> </strong><em>Chief Talent Officer<br /> </em>Best Best &amp; Krieger LLP<br /> 300 South Grand Avenue, 25th Floor<br /> Los Angeles, CA 90071<br /> <em><br /> <strong><em><strong>No phone calls or emails please</strong></em><br /> <br /> <b><i>Best Best &amp; Krieger LLP is an Equal Opportunity Employer.</i></b></strong></em></p>Job Openings at BB&K22 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0800 Business of Water and Environmental Lessons from Nuclear Disasters<p>BB&amp;K Partner Eric Garner was co-chair of &ldquo;The business of water: key issues in investing in and financing of water and wastewater projects&rdquo; at the International Bar Association&rsquo;s annual conference in Tokyo, Japan. With water supply and treatment becoming pressing concerns worldwide, and with many types of infrastructure urgently needed to provide potable water and to treat water, this panel discussed methods that private companies are undertaking on their own efforts to protect water supplies essentials to their business models. The panel also discussed a variety of ways that companies and governments are working together to get projects financed and constructed.</p> <p>In addition, BB&amp;K Partner Michelle Ouellette, who is senior vice chair of the Environment, Health and Safety Law Committee, co-moderated &ldquo;Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima: lessons learned and being learned.&rdquo; This session explored the legal lessons that we have learned as a result of the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima incidents. In particular, it addressed how the legal community has responded to these incidents from a liability, regulatory and contractual perspective. It also addressed what additional legal/regulatory steps should be considered in respect to existing and future nuclear generating stations, to address any claims or consequences arising from nuclear incidents and to reduce or prevent future nuclear incidents from occurring.</p> Michelle was also the session co-chair of &ldquo;The international environmental law consequences of natural resource and energy extraction.&rdquo; As nations are increasingly looking to other countries and continents as a source of addressing rapidly growing demands for natural resource and energy commodities, triggering environmental law issues in both the domestic and foreign countries, as well as international obligations. Meanwhile, some nations are restricting trade of their own natural resources and energy commodities (including rate earth minerals). These developments are raising questions related to the environmental liability of organizations under domestic, foreign and international environmental laws. This session discussed considerations relevant to both multinational companies and foreign governments in pursuing trade and resource and energy development in other nations, as well as environmental and trade law implications of restrictions imposed by nations on the export of resources. The session&nbsp;was orientated toward any lawyers who work on issues pertaining to trade of energy commodities and natural resources and will not assume expertise in international environmental law.Conferences & Speaking Engagements20 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0800 Water Board Releases Draft Safe Drinking Water Plan<p>The State Water Resources Control Board released a draft Safe Drinking Water Plan for California. The draft plan assesses the quality of the state's drinking water, identifies specific water quality problems, analyzes known and potential health risks that may be associated with drinking water contamination, and provides specific recommendations to improve drinking water quality.</p> <p>With the transition of the Drinking Water Program from the California Department of Public Health on July 1 the State Water Board now has the primary authority to enforce federal and state safe drinking water acts, and is responsible for the regulatory oversight of about 8,000 public water systems throughout the state. One of the goals in transferring the program was to promote safe drinking water through more integrated water quality management, from source to tap.</p> <p>The draft plan contains 32 practical recommendations in nine areas that would expand the State Water Board&rsquo;s efforts to bring a greater number of systems into compliance. Recommendations include consolidating small water systems with larger systems wherever feasible, increasing funding to small and disadvantaged communities, and increased emergency preparedness.</p> <p>The State Water Board is accepting comments on the draft plan until Dec. 15. If your agency is concerned about the contents of the draft plan or would like assistance submitting comments, please contact one of the attorney authors of this legal alert listed at right in the <a target="_blank" href=";LPA=492&amp;format=xml"><span style="color: #0000ff">Environmental and Natural Resources</span></a> or&nbsp;<a target="_top" href=";LPA=489&amp;format=xml"><span style="color: #0000ff">Municipal</span></a>&nbsp; practice groups, or your <a target="_blank" href=""><span style="color: #0000ff">BB&amp;K attorney</span></a>.</p> <p><i>Disclaimer: BB&amp;K legal alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this communiqu&eacute;.</i></p>Legal Alerts13 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0800 Partner Michelle Ouellette Among Diversity Journal's 2015 Women Worth Watching<p><b>RIVERSIDE, Calif.</b> _ Michelle Ouellette, a Best Best &amp; Krieger partner in the firm&rsquo;s Riverside office, is one of 160 women named to the <i>Diversity Journal&rsquo;s</i> 2015 Women Worth Watching&reg; list. Ouellette, who practices in the Environmental Law &amp; Natural Resources group, was nominated for her positive influence on diversity both inside and outside the workplace.</p> <p>In the September/October 2014 edition of <i>Diversity Journal</i>, Ouellette gives a first-person account of lessons learned during her career &mdash; including how building relationships, staying competitive and working hard can lead to success. (<a target="_blank" href=""><span style="color: #0000ff">Click here to see the article</span></a>.)</p> <p>&ldquo;Michelle represents what can be accomplished by women, or anyone, who work hard and are passionate about what they do,&rdquo; said BB&amp;K Partner Danielle Sakai, who oversees recruiting. &ldquo;She sets a fantastic example for the less experienced female attorneys in the firm, whom she supports and mentors.&rdquo;</p> <p>This is the <i>Diversity Journal&rsquo;s</i> 13th year publishing this list, which includes women from a variety of industries and locations nationwide. &ldquo;When we launched our inaugural Women Worth Watching issue, we knew we were doing something unique,&rdquo; said Kathie Sandlin, the magazine&rsquo;s editor in chief. &ldquo;We may not have been the first to celebrate the accomplishments of women in business, but we knew by telling their stories, we could help propel the wave of high achievers that would certainly follow.&rdquo;</p> <p>BB&amp;K has a strong commitment to diversity. In May 2014, <i>The American Lawyer</i> ranked BB&amp;K No. 12 in attorney racial diversity out of more than 200 of the largest and highest-grossing law firms nationwide on their annual &quot;<a target="_blank" href=""><span style="color: #0000ff">Diversity Scorecard</span></a>.&quot; In addition, BB&amp;K was recognized in June 2014 by <i>Law360</i> for being one of the top 25 U.S. law firms - out of 400 surveyed - that have the highest percentage of female partners. BB&amp;K ranked No. 13 on <i>Law360</i>&rsquo;s first ever &quot;<span style="color: #0000ff"><u><a target="_blank" href=";an=31314&amp;format=xml">Ceiling Smashers</a></u></span>&quot; list, with women accounting for nearly a third of the firm&rsquo;s partners.</p> <p align="center">###</p> <b><i>Best Best &amp; Krieger LLP</i></b><i> is a national law firm that focuses on environmental, business, education, municipal and telecommunications law for public agency and private clients. With 200 attorneys, the law firm has nine offices nationwide, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and Washington D.C. For more information, visit </i><span style="color: #0000ff"><i><a target="_blank" href=""><span style="color: #0000ff"></span></a></i></span><i><span> or follow @BBKlaw on <a target="_blank" href=""><span style="color: #0000ff">Twitter</span></a>.</span></i>Press Releases09 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0800 and the Law<p>Program Co-Chair and BB&amp;K Managing Partner <b>Eric Garner</b> and Partner <b>Shawn Hagerty</b> were among the presenters at this one-day seminar titled &ldquo;Hydrology and the Law: Effective Tools for Resolving Water Rights and Damages Issues&rdquo; in Santa Monica, Calif. and webcast live. California is in the midst of a historic drought. Surface water deliveries are at an all-time low and many groundwater basins are being significantly drawn down. As the State, other public agencies and private interests struggle with how to maintain supplies in the short and long term, as well as protect the environment and comply with environmental regulations, understanding how hydrology and the law interrelate has never been more important.</p> <p>This one-day seminar explained the basics of hydrology and how it interacts with the law in California for the benefit of practitioners in both fields. In particular, leading experts in both fields examined the relationship between hydrology and the law as it relates to water quality and pending groundwater legislation, as well as how hydrology comes into play during litigation. This seminar helped practitioners in both fields improve their overall understanding of these very interrelated fields just as water issues are front page news.</p> <p><b>BB&amp;K Speakers</b></p> <p>Eric Garner<br /> 8:30 a.m., &ldquo;Introduction and Overview: Surface and Groundwater Law and Relevant Legal Concepts&rdquo;<br /> 2:30 p.m., &ldquo;The Practical Application of Science to New Groundwater Regulation&rdquo;</p> <p>Shawn Hagerty<br /> 1:30 p.m., &ldquo;The Practical Application of Science to Current Water Quality Issues: Challenges of Certainty in an Uncertain World&rdquo;</p> <p><b>Topics</b></p> <ul> <li>Hydrology of surface water, groundwater and sub-surface flows</li> <li>Water supply forecasting</li> <li>Application of science to water quality issues</li> <li>New groundwater regulations</li> <li>The use of science in resolving water quality disputes and damages</li> </ul> <p><b>Audience</b></p> <ul> <li>Attorneys</li> <li>Consultants</li> <li>Real estate developers</li> <li>Agricultural water users</li> <li>Agency and Tribal representatives</li> <li>Anyone else involved in water issues in California</li> </ul> <p><b>Date:</b><br /> Oct. 7, 2014<br /> 8 a.m. &ndash; 5 p.m.</p> <p><b>Location:</b><br /> DoubleTree Guest Suites Santa Monica Hotel or Live via Webcast</p> <p><b>Continuing Education Credits</b><br /> Live credits: Law Seminars International is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider. This program qualifies for 6.75 California MCLE credits. Upon request, we will apply for, or help you apply for, CLE credits in other states and other types of credits.</p> <p>For more information, <a target="_blank" href=""><font color="#0000ff">visit the Law Seminars International event page by clicking here</font></a>.</p>Conferences & Speaking Engagements07 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0800 Action Planning by Local Government<p>BB&amp;K attorneys <b>Fernando Avila</b> and <b>Charity Schiller</b> presented &ldquo;Urban Density, Transit, Water/Energy Conservation and Distributed Energy: Climate Action Planning by Local Government&rdquo; at CLE International&rsquo;s &ldquo;California Greenhouse Gas Regulations&rdquo; two-day program.</p> <p><b>When:</b><br /> Oct. 6, 2014<br /> 3:30 p.m.</p> <p><b>Location:</b><br /> Hotel Nikko, San Francisco<br /> For more information or to register, visit CLE International by <a target="_blank" href=";src=Featured&amp;page=California_Greenhouse_Gas_Regulations"><font color="#0000ff">clicking here</font></a>.</p>Conferences & Speaking Engagements07 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0800