Meredith E. Nikkel

Partner

Meredith Nikkel tackles water and environmental disputes with the discerning eye of a litigator and the innovative thinking of a problem solver.

Her practice addresses complex legal issues with novel solutions at all levels from administrative proceedings before the State Water Resources Control Board to state and federal trial and appellate courts. Serving private and public entities, Meredith provides insightful analysis that achieves results.

Meredith has successfully defended public agencies in writ proceedings, settled multi-party groundwater disputes both informally and in court, and represented a broad group of water users in administrative and state court proceedings related to the California WaterFix project. She is currently defending contracts held by senior water right holders in a complex federal court case that involves multiple water user, environmental and federal government interests. Meredith also counsels water managers, boards of directors, and public agencies on surface and groundwater supply issues (including under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act), reclamation law, and compliance with environmental laws such as CEQA, NEPA, and the Endangered Species Act. Her past experience at the federal court of appeals and as a litigator at an international law firm give her the tenacity to untangle the most complicated legal issues and the perspective to distill those issues effectively to achieve resolution.


Professional, Community And Pro Bono Involvement

  • Sacramento Tree Foundation, Board Member, 2018
  • California Water Law & Policy Conference, Co-Chair, 2018-present
  • California Water Law & Policy Reporter, Editorial Board Member, 2013-present
  • Groundwater Law & Hydrology, UC Davis Extension, Instructor, 2014-present
  • McClatchy Law and Public Policy Academy, Mentor, 2013-2014
  • Sacramento County Bar Association, Environmental Law Section, 2012-present
  • Association of Women in Water, Energy and Environment, 2012-present; Regional Team Member, 2012-2017
  • Anthony M. Kennedy Inn of Court, Former Associate Member, 2009-2011
  • Alameda County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), 2003-2004
  • Stanford Law & Policy Review, Former Co-President

Honors & Rankings

  • Sacramento Magazine, Top Lawyer, Environmental, Energy & Natural Resources, 2015-2019
  • Clerkship, Judge Barry G. Silverman, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2007-2008
  • Successfully defend municipality in a challenge to policy designed to ensure future water supply and demand neutrality.
  • Settle multi-party groundwater dispute in state court.
  • Defend historic settlement contracts held by senior water rights in federal court.
  • Defend public and private water rights in proceedings before the State Water Resources Control Board, including pursuing water rights applications, filing protests to change petitions, and opposing a permit revocation.
  • Advise private and public entities on compliance with and implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
  • Prosecute and defend writ of mandate actions in civil court.
  • Counsel public entities regarding water rights in adjudicated and unadjudicated groundwater basins.
  • Advised court-appointed Watermaster in the City of Los Angeles v. City of San Fernando groundwater adjudication (Los Angeles County).
  • Represent agricultural landowner in negotiations with Bureau of Reclamation to establish contractual and pre-existing water right.
  • Advise public agencies in compliance with the Endangered Species Act and California Environmental Quality Act, including preparation of environmental documents and defending and pursuing litigation.
  • Obtained summary judgment on behalf of a special district in a multi-million dollar tax refund claim.
  • Resolved foreclosure actions under the Mello Roos Act on behalf of special district.
  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of investors in property subject to mechanic’s lien.
  • Served as pro bono amicus counsel in immigration matter argued in the Ninth Circuit.

In the News


Press Releases


Speaking Engagements / Events

Blogs


Legal Alerts


Publications

  • August 30, 2018
    Wildfires, Farms, Fish and Meeting Water Demands
    Daily Journal
  • August 2018
    Water Rights and Environmental Regulation: A Lawyer’s Guide
    Co-author, American Bar Association
  • March 2017
    Preparing for Sustainable Groundwater Management: A Review of Groundwater Recharge
    California Water Law & Policy
  • December 2016
    A Compendium of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
    Provided by Downey Brand's Water Law Practice
  • Fall 2016
    California Groundwater Management: Laboratories of Local Implementation or State Command and Control?
    Environmental Law News, Vol. 25, No. 2
  • November 2016
    California Governor Brown Approves Assembly Bill 2551, Which Broadens Public Contracting Options for Surface Water Storage Projects
    California Water Law & Policy Reporter, Vol. 27, No. 2
  • May 2016
    Still Waiting for a Federal Response to the Drought: A Legislative Update
    California Water Law & Policy Reporter
  • December 2015
    Does Every Drop Really Count? An inconsistent Accounting of California’s Water Supply
    California Water Law & Policy Reporter, Vol. 26, No. 3
  • November 2015
    Union of Concerned Scientists Proposes Best Practices to Achieve Goals of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
    California Water Law & Policy Reporter, Vol. 26, No. 2
  • August/September 2015
    A Federal Response to the Drought – Three Bills Pending in Congress
    California Water Law & Policy Reporter, Vol. 25, No. 11
  • June 2015
    Environmental Groups File Suit Against San Francisco Challenging Hetch Hetchy Reservoir
    California Water Law & Policy Reporter, Vol. 25, No. 9
  • April 2015
    U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Finds No Significant Impact for Trap and Haul Operation in Conjunction with San Joaquin River Settlement Agreement
    California Water Law & Policy Reporter, Vol. 25, No. 7
  • March 2015
    State Water Resources Control Board Partially Approves Temporary Changes to the State Water Project and Central Valley Project Water Rights Permits
    California Water Law & Policy Reporter, Vol. 25, No. 6
  • February 2015
    Ninth Circuit Upholds Biological Opinion Regarding Impacts of Central Valley Project and State Water Project Operations on Salmonid Species
    California Water Law & Policy Reporter, Vol. 25, No. 5
  • February 2013
    United States-Mexico Agreement Represents Cooperative Approach to Address Water Allocation Issues on the Colorado River
    Water Resources Committee Newsletter, American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, Vol. 15, No. 1
  • 2012-Present
    California Water Law & Policy Reporter
    Monthly Contributing Writer
  • January 2012
    Association of California Water Agencies
    Contributing Writer, Summary of Appellate Cases

I hope to visit all 59 of the United States national parks in my lifetime. I’ve only made it to 8 so far and look ahead to the many roads I have to travel.


Professional, Community And Pro Bono Involvement

  • Sacramento Tree Foundation, Board Member, 2018
  • California Water Law & Policy Conference, Co-Chair, 2018-present
  • California Water Law & Policy Reporter, Editorial Board Member, 2013-present
  • Groundwater Law & Hydrology, UC Davis Extension, Instructor, 2014-present
  • McClatchy Law and Public Policy Academy, Mentor, 2013-2014
  • Sacramento County Bar Association, Environmental Law Section, 2012-present
  • Association of Women in Water, Energy and Environment, 2012-present; Regional Team Member, 2012-2017
  • Anthony M. Kennedy Inn of Court, Former Associate Member, 2009-2011
  • Alameda County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), 2003-2004
  • Stanford Law & Policy Review, Former Co-President

Honors & Rankings

  • Sacramento Magazine, Top Lawyer, Environmental, Energy & Natural Resources, 2015-2019
  • Clerkship, Judge Barry G. Silverman, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2007-2008