Water Rights

Water is both a unique and an invaluable resource. With an ever-growing demand, and increasingly constrained supply, water rights, water supply and water management issues have become critical concerns across the United States. Resolving today’s water supply and water quality issues requires multi-disciplinary legal skills and solution-based approaches, assuring regulatory compliance and meeting the needs of both businesses and our nation’s growing population.
 
Best Best & Krieger LLP is a national leader in advising on and resolving water and environmental matters. As California’s largest full-service public agency law firm, we represent the entire spectrum of public agencies that deal with and are affected by water-related issues, including counties, cities, water suppliers, water supply management entities and special districts of every kind. We also represent private industry, advising businesses on modern-day water matters. We advise industries on issues ranging from development and land use, agriculture, manufacturing and processing, food and beverage and other concerns. Recognized for unmatched experience in water rights, water quality and related environmental fields, BB&K handles some of the most cutting-edge water-related issues impacting businesses.
 
Influencing Water Law & Policy
BB&K plays an integral role in shaping state and federal water law and policy. Whether in helping clients or through academic or professional associations, our lawyers are constantly involved in drafting and influencing water-related legislation, rules and regulations, and helping shape water resource policies. Our lawyers literally wrote the book on California water, an authoritative treatise covering the many complicated and inter-related issues of water rights, supply, quality and environmental law. We regularly teach college and professional courses, speak at conferences and publish articles and other literature on all aspects of water rights and water quality.
 
In addition, we serve as outside counsel to emerging nations, including South Africa, Malaysia, Namibia and St. Lucia, helping them develop water laws and policy to suit their specific and changing needs. Our depth and breadth of experience uniquely positions BB&K to advocate and problem solve for clients that are impacted by an ever-evolving web of water resource-related laws and regulations.
 
Unmatched Experience & Comprehensive Service
 Additionally, we advise on and assist with:

  • Navigating Sustainable Groundwater Management Act’s procedural requirements and assuring compliance
  • Developing and implementing groundwater sustainability plans to protect and manage groundwater supplies on a sustainable basis
  • Addressing water quality, Endangered Species Act, California Environmental Quality Act, and National Environmental Policy Act issues and other legal and regulatory requirements that come into play regarding water rights and supply
  • Securing MS4 and construction stormwater permits
  • Advocating regarding water policies and regulations


BB&K is a vigorous advocate for our water resource clients in state and federal courts across California and the West, and before the State Water Resources Control Board, Regional Water Quality Control Boards and other administrative agencies. We represent clients in all types of water rights proceedings, enforcement actions, permit appeals, citizen suits and other litigation.

From interstate compacts to regional water supply adjudications to local proceedings and landowner disputes, when it comes to water matters, BB&K does it all and has seen it all.

 

How Can Government Relations Help You?

Environmental, water, telecommunications and transportation projects by both public agencies and businesses can benefit from our advocacy services. Let us help you be heard!

Learn more about BB&K's Government Relations services.


 
  • Litigating cases and negotiating key agreements involving major water bodies across California, including the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the Mojave River, Colorado River, Santa Ana River, Santa Margarita River, San Jacinto River, Ventura River and the Santa Ynez River.
  • Adjudicating rights agreements for groundwater basins such as Santa Maria, Chino, Monterey, Sacramento, Antelope Valley, Warren Valley, Beaumont, Six Basins, Kern, San Joaquin, Coachella Valley and San Juan.
  • Advising a multitude of public agency and private clients throughout California regarding legal requirements and implementation of SGMA.
  • Advising on inter-related issues of water rights and state and federal Endangered Species Act requirements in various watersheds, such as the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, the Ventura River and the Santa Ynez River.
  • Helping prepare and implement water supply planning documents for clients throughout California, including urban water management plans, water supply assessments, written verifications and water supply analyses under CEQA and NEPA.
  • Serving as general counsel and city attorney and handling all water rights, supply, management, contractual, litigation and other matters for numerous water agencies and cities through California and the West.
Areas of Focus: Environmental Law & Natural Resources | Environmental Litigation | Municipal Law | Water | Water Quality | Water Rights
Areas of Focus: Environmental Law & Natural Resources | General & Special Counsel | Government Policy & Public Integrity | Municipal Law | Special Districts | Water
Areas of Focus: Endangered Species | Environmental Litigation | Municipal Law | Special Districts | Water | Water Quality | Water Rights
John D. Freshman

John D. Freshman

Senior Director of Governmental Affairs*

john.freshman@bbklaw.com

(202) 370-5301

Areas of Focus: Air Quality | Endangered Species | Environmental Law & Natural Resources | Government Relations | Hazardous Waste | Water
Areas of Focus: Environmental Law & Natural Resources | Environmental Litigation | Municipal Law | Special Districts | Water | Water Rights
Areas of Focus: Environmental Law & Natural Resources | Water | Water Quality | Water Rights
Areas of Focus: California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) | Endangered Species | Environmental Law & Natural Resources | Environmental Litigation | Special Districts | Water Rights
Areas of Focus: Elections | Eminent Domain | Environmental Law & Natural Resources | Environmental Litigation | Municipal Law | Special Districts | Water | Water Quality | Water Rights
Event Jul 25, 2019

SGMA’s Next Phase

Sustainable Groundwater Planning in California

Event Jun 20, 2019

2019 California Water Law & Policy MCLE Conference

Argent Communications Group

SGMA: DWR Announces Draft Basin Prioritization
Legal Alerts May 02, 2019

SGMA: DWR Announces Draft Basin Prioritization

Comments Accepted Until May 30

"California Water," Third Edition
Authored Articles & Publications Apr 30, 2019

"California Water," Third Edition

Eric Garner’s Updates to Text on Historical, Legal and Policy Issues Affecting California Water Use

Tribe Lacks Standing in Water Suit
Client Successes Apr 24, 2019

Tribe Lacks Standing in Water Suit

Representing Desert Water Agency, BB&K Attorneys Won Partial Dismissal of Case

Event Mar 25, 2019

2019 AEP California State Conference

Association of Environmental Professionals

Aquifer Management Success
Authored Articles & Publications Feb 28, 2019

Aquifer Management Success

In the Water International Journal, BB&K Managing Partner Eric Garner Identifies Factors for Groundwater Sustainability

Groundwater Rights Trial Earns Top Verdict Honor from Daily Journal
Press Releases Feb 22, 2019

Groundwater Rights Trial Earns Top Verdict Honor from Daily Journal

BB&K Leads Water Agencies’ Defense

Event Feb 02, 2019

The Elephant in the Room: Adjudication Under SGMA

15th Annual California Water Law Symposium

Event Nov 27, 2018

ACWA 2018 Fall Conference & Exhibition

Association of California Water Agencies

Event Oct 08, 2018

IBA Annual Conference 2018

International Bar Association

Groundwater Rights Jury Finds in Favor of Public Water Suppliers
Client Successes Oct 01, 2018

Groundwater Rights Jury Finds in Favor of Public Water Suppliers

BB&K Team Successfully Defends City in First-of-its-Kind Trial in California

Groundwater Extraction Permits Not Subject to CEQA in San Luis Obispo County
Legal Alerts Aug 06, 2018

Groundwater Extraction Permits Not Subject to CEQA in San Luis Obispo County

Approval is a Ministerial Action, not subject to CEQA, Appellate Court Finds

Event Jun 13, 2018

Water Projects: How to Successfully Navigate a Growing But Complicated Process

American Water Works Association

Event Jun 11, 2018

California Water Law & Policy Conference

Argent Communications Group

Administrative Hearing Office Proposed for State Water Resources Control Board
Legal Alerts May 14, 2018

Administrative Hearing Office Proposed for State Water Resources Control Board

Proposed Legislation Would Provide for Efficient Hearings by Qualified Officers

Event May 08, 2018

ACWA CLE Workshop & Spring Conference

Association of California Water Agencies

The Price of an Aging Infrastructure on the Environment
Videos Apr 24, 2018

The Price of an Aging Infrastructure on the Environment

The Bill is Due: Now What? Infrastructure, Pensions and the Environment

Event Apr 17, 2018

Does a Federal Reserved Right to Surface Water Extend to Groundwater?

ABA Water Law Conference

Event Apr 17, 2018

Now Comes the Hard Part… Implementing Groundwater Management Under SGMA

UCLA IoES Water Resources Group and UCLA School of Law's Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment

Debating an Environmental Water Right in California
BB&K In the News Mar 22, 2018

Debating an Environmental Water Right in California

Managing Partner Eric L. Garner Interviewed by the Water Education Foundation

Event Mar 05, 2018

Making Sense of a New Landscape in California Land Use Law and Policy

Argent's 2018 California Land Use Law & Policy MCLE Conference

California Water Board Lacks Jurisdiction to Curtail Water Use by Senior Water Rights Holders
Legal Alerts Feb 23, 2018

California Water Board Lacks Jurisdiction to Curtail Water Use by Senior Water Rights Holders

Court Decision on California Water Code Authority

Water Law Case Overturned for City
Client Successes Feb 05, 2018

Water Law Case Overturned for City

BB&K Partners Gene Tanaka and Shawn Hagerty Win in California Appellate Court

Event Feb 05, 2018

Sustainable Groundwater Planning in California

Law Seminars International

Event Nov 16, 2017

Groundwater Sustainability Plans, Prevailing Wage Requirements

CARCD's 72nd Annual Conference

Event Nov 16, 2017

Our Thirsty State

AWWEE Conference

Event Nov 14, 2017

Managing a Scarce Resource: Water

CLE International's Nevada Water Law Conference

Event Nov 13, 2017

The Scott River Litigation

Does the Public Trust Doctrine Apply to Groundwater Extractions?

Water to Grow Marijuana in California’s Desert
BB&K In the News Oct 24, 2017

Water to Grow Marijuana in California’s Desert

BB&K Managing Partner Eric Garner Interviewed by Water Deeply

Event Oct 19, 2017

26th Annual Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite

State Bar of California Environmental Law Section

Event Jun 12, 2017

Coping with Drought, Floods and the New Federal Administration

Argent's 2017 California Water Law & Policy MCLE Conference

Event May 30, 2017

Identifying Aquifers for Successful Management

IWRA XVIth World Water Congress

State Water Board Adopts Groundwater Extraction Fees For SGMA Intervention
Legal Alerts May 22, 2017

State Water Board Adopts Groundwater Extraction Fees For SGMA Intervention

Fee Imposition Will Begin This Summer

Event May 18, 2017

Groundwater Sustainability Plans: Potential Challenges And Solutions

The American Ground Water Trust Conference

Event May 09, 2017

One Water, One Future

ACWA's 2017 Spring Conference & Exhibition

Event Apr 25, 2017

Water Laws and Regulations

HalfMoon Education Seminars

Final California Water Conservation Plan and Proposed Legislation Released
Legal Alerts Apr 11, 2017

Final California Water Conservation Plan and Proposed Legislation Released

Urban Water Suppliers Face Far-Reaching Consequences

Event Apr 06, 2017

Water Rights in an Era of “Permanent” Conservation Madness

California Water Policy Conference

Authored Articles & Publications Mar 16, 2017

Public Trust Doctrine & Water Rights

The Walker Case: Does the Public Trust Doctrine Apply to Water Rights Established in Judicial Decrees?

Event Mar 14, 2017

Local Arrangements to Manage Groundwater Demand and Lessons for WB Operations

World Bank Water Week 2017

Event Mar 09, 2017

Successes and Challenges in Groundwater Governance in California

World Bank Water Global Practice Group / Center for Mediterranean Integration

Event Feb 09, 2017

Western Water Law Conference

CLE International

Client Successes Feb 08, 2017

BB&K Represents Water District in Historic Indian Water Rights Settlement

The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indian Water Rights Settlement Act

Press Releases Jan 20, 2017

Southern California Super Lawyers 2017

Five BB&K Partners Receive Honor

Event Jan 09, 2017

SGMA, GSA Setup & GSP Preparation

Law Seminars International

[WEBINAR] Prop 64: The Basics
Dec 01, 2016

[WEBINAR] Prop 64: The Basics

Cultivating New Regulations and Confronting New Challenges Presented By Marijuana Legalization

BB&K Event Nov 30, 2016

Free BB&K Webinar Series: Prop. 64 - Legalized Marijuana: Challenges and Choices

First in Series on Prop. 64: The Basics - Cultivating New Regulations and Confronting New Challenges Presented by Marijuana Legalization

Event Nov 29, 2016

Bringing Water Together

ACWA's 2016 Fall Conference & Exhibition

Joseph Byrne Video Bio
Videos Nov 22, 2016

Joseph Byrne Video Bio

Partner

Eric L. Garner Video Bio
Videos Nov 18, 2016

Eric L. Garner Video Bio

Managing Partner

Drought Policies, Price of Water Lands in Court
BB&K In the News Nov 17, 2016

Drought Policies, Price of Water Lands in Court

Hillsborough, Represented by BB&K Attorney Kimberly Hood, Faces Suit from Residents

Event Nov 17, 2016

Webinar: Sustainable Groundwater Management Act 2.0: 2 Years To 2020/2022

State Bar of California, Environmental Law Section

Event Nov 16, 2016

Urban and Rural: Tying the Partnership Together

California Association of Resource Conservation Districts

The Future of U.S. Infrastructure and Local Control Amid Post-Election Uncertainty
Legal Alerts Nov 15, 2016

The Future of U.S. Infrastructure and Local Control Amid Post-Election Uncertainty

Post-Election Opportunities for Local Government Agencies

Endangered Fish v. Humans: The Fight Over Competing Water Needs
Authored Articles & Publications Nov 09, 2016

Endangered Fish v. Humans: The Fight Over Competing Water Needs

The Struggle to Find Balance is Explored by BB&K Partner Gene Tanaka in Municipal Lawyer Magazine

BB&K’s Reimagining the Cadillac Desert
BB&K In the News Oct 27, 2016

BB&K’s Reimagining the Cadillac Desert

Maven’s Notebook Shares Highlights from Water Event

Event Oct 25, 2016

California Water: Current Challenges and Future Solutions Conference

Event Oct 23, 2016

Water Rights Reforms - Are Changes Needed to Our Water Rights and Pricing Systems?

State Bar of California 2016 Environmental Law Conference

Event Oct 20, 2016

25th Annual Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite

State Bar of California Environmental Law

Event Sep 29, 2016

Agua Caliente v. Coachella Valley Water District, et al.

Tribal Water Law's 5th Annual Conference

BB&K Partner Jeffrey V. Dunn Named One of the Top 100 Lawyers in California
Press Releases Sep 21, 2016

BB&K Partner Jeffrey V. Dunn Named One of the Top 100 Lawyers in California

Resolutions in Two Major Water Rights Matters Cited by the Daily Journal

In Focus: Eric Garner
BB&K In the News Sep 02, 2016

In Focus: Eric Garner

BB&K Managing Partner Eric Garner, a Board Member of The National Judicial College’s Dividing the Waters Program, is Profiled in The Network Note

Sweeping Six-Case Win For Water District Helps Secure Orange County’s Water Supply
Authored Articles & Publications Aug 24, 2016

Sweeping Six-Case Win For Water District Helps Secure Orange County’s Water Supply

BB&K Partner Michelle Ouellette Authors a Summary of Recent Appellate Victory for Orange County Lawyer Magazine

How Israel Manages its Water Better than California Does
BB&K In the News Aug 15, 2016

How Israel Manages its Water Better than California Does

Managing Partner Eric Garner Among Authorities Who Share Insights in the Jewish Journal

California State Water Board Extends Public Comment Period for Wetlands Policy; New Permits Likely to be Required
Legal Alerts Jul 27, 2016

California State Water Board Extends Public Comment Period for Wetlands Policy; New Permits Likely to be Required

Public Comments Due Aug.18

Water Futures
BB&K In the News Jul 25, 2016

Water Futures

Managing Partner Eric Garner Discusses Changing Water Infrastructure with Best Lawyers

California State Water Board Releases Revised Drinking Water Fee Regulations
Legal Alerts Jul 20, 2016

California State Water Board Releases Revised Drinking Water Fee Regulations

Public Comments Due July 29th

Event Jun 30, 2016

Managing Groundwater in a Time of Increasing Demand and Changing Climate

Toward Sustainable Groundwater in Agriculture: 2nd International Conference Linking Science & Policy

Event Jun 15, 2016

Understanding Local Groundwater Storage Potential

UCLA Water Resource Group

Event Jun 06, 2016

Sustainable Groundwater in California

Law Seminars International

Emergency Groundwater Sustainability Plan Regulations Adopted By California Water Commission
Legal Alerts May 19, 2016

Emergency Groundwater Sustainability Plan Regulations Adopted By California Water Commission

Key Principle: Sustainable Management Through Local Efforts

Event May 18, 2016

Proposition 218 Roundtable

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Event May 12, 2016

Groundwater: Legislation in California and Elsewhere; Overdraft; State and Local Management; Legal Treatment of Connection to Surface Water

National Water Law Forum

New Executive Order Released By California Governor for Long-Term Water Planning Released
Legal Alerts May 09, 2016

New Executive Order Released By California Governor for Long-Term Water Planning Released

State Water Resources Control Board Releases Draft Regulation to Modify Water Conservation Requirements

California Groundwater Regulation Hangs on a Few Words
BB&K In the News May 05, 2016

California Groundwater Regulation Hangs on a Few Words

BB&K Managing Partner Eric Garner Discusses in Circle of Blue Controversy Over the Word “Substantial” in the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

Event May 04, 2016

2016 Spring Conference & Exhibition

Association of California Water Agencies

California State Water Board Set to Impose New Drinking Water Fees on Public Water Systems
Legal Alerts May 04, 2016

California State Water Board Set to Impose New Drinking Water Fees on Public Water Systems

Public Comments Due June 22

Event Apr 26, 2016

Groundwater Law Conference

American Groundwater Trust

Water Rights with Eric Garner: Beneficial and Reasonable Use
Videos Apr 21, 2016

Water Rights with Eric Garner: Beneficial and Reasonable Use

Video Series

Event Apr 04, 2016

Cities in Transition

Association of Environmental Professionals

March 15 Deadline Approaches For California Water Suppliers to Apply for Adjustments to Water Conservation Requirements
Legal Alerts Mar 11, 2016

March 15 Deadline Approaches For California Water Suppliers to Apply for Adjustments to Water Conservation Requirements

Climate, Growth and Water Supply Adjustments Ease Conservation Burden in Some Communities

Water Rights with Eric Garner: Prescriptive Rights
Videos Feb 24, 2016

Water Rights with Eric Garner: Prescriptive Rights

Video Series

DWR Releases Draft Emergency Regulations for Groundwater Sustainability Plans in California
Legal Alerts Feb 19, 2016

DWR Releases Draft Emergency Regulations for Groundwater Sustainability Plans in California

Proposed Regulations Include Required Plan Elements and Criteria for State Review

Water Rights with Eric Garner: California Groundwater Rights
Videos Feb 02, 2016

Water Rights with Eric Garner: California Groundwater Rights

Video Series

Event Jan 28, 2016

Groundwater Sustainability Seminar

American Council of Engineering Companies

Shasta Lake Water Levels Subject of New Litigation
Legal Alerts Jan 21, 2016

Shasta Lake Water Levels Subject of New Litigation

Water Contractors Challenge SWRCB Order Potentially Restricting Water

California State Water Board Releases Proposed Text of Emergency Water Conservation Regulation
Legal Alerts Jan 20, 2016

California State Water Board Releases Proposed Text of Emergency Water Conservation Regulation

Public Comments Due Jan. 28

Structuring Tiered Water Rates Under Conflicting Court Decisions: Interpreting the California Constitution
Authored Articles & Publications Jan 07, 2016

Structuring Tiered Water Rates Under Conflicting Court Decisions: Interpreting the California Constitution

Partner Kelly Salt Writes About Tiered Rates in the January 2016 American Water Works Association Journal

Water Rights with Eric Garner: Appropriative Rights to Surface Water
Videos Jan 06, 2016

Water Rights with Eric Garner: Appropriative Rights to Surface Water

Video Series

California Appellate Court Holds Groundwater Pumping Fees are Property-Related Fees Subject to Prop. 218
Legal Alerts Dec 09, 2015

California Appellate Court Holds Groundwater Pumping Fees are Property-Related Fees Subject to Prop. 218

Decision Conflicts with a Separate Appellate Court Decision to be Considered by the California Supreme Court

Water Rights with Eric Garner: Riparian Water Rights
Videos Dec 08, 2015

Water Rights with Eric Garner: Riparian Water Rights

Video Series

California’s Small Water Suppliers Must Report Water Conservation Data by Dec. 15
Legal Alerts Dec 04, 2015

California’s Small Water Suppliers Must Report Water Conservation Data by Dec. 15

Information on Outdoor Watering and Monthly Water Production Required

California Water Restrictions Could Continue Under New Executive Order
Legal Alerts Nov 16, 2015

California Water Restrictions Could Continue Under New Executive Order

Governor Orders Extension If Drought Conditions Linger

California Water Board Considering Extension Of Emergency Drought Regulations
Legal Alerts Nov 05, 2015

California Water Board Considering Extension Of Emergency Drought Regulations

Mandatory Water Restrictions Could Run Beyond February, Depending On Rain and Snowfall

Summary of Appellate Cases Decided by the Courts in 2014-2015
Authored Articles & Publications Nov 04, 2015

Summary of Appellate Cases Decided by the Courts in 2014-2015

Association of California Water Agencies

Event Oct 29, 2015

The Next Wave Series: Who Owns Water?

UCLA Hammer Museum Lecture Series

California Governor Signs Bills to Streamline Groundwater Basin Adjudications to Better Harmonize with SGMA
Legal Alerts Oct 09, 2015

California Governor Signs Bills to Streamline Groundwater Basin Adjudications to Better Harmonize with SGMA

Bills Addresses Traditional Costs and Delays in Adjudications

Sixth Circuit Issues Nationwide Stay of EPA “Waters of the United States” Regulation
Legal Alerts Oct 09, 2015

Sixth Circuit Issues Nationwide Stay of EPA “Waters of the United States” Regulation

The Stay Follows A Preliminary Injunction Issued Against the Clean Water Rule in August