Nicole E. Granquist

Nicole E. Granquist

Partner / Chair, Environmental Law Practice Group

Nicole Granquist is among an elite group of attorneys whose practice is devoted entirely to water quality regulatory compliance, enforcement defense, and litigation.

Described by clients as a “powerhouse,” who has a “tremendous grasp of the complex scientific, legal, and political issues” involved in California water quality regulation and litigation, her tenacious, creative, and pragmatic approach has garnered exceptional results for her statewide municipal and industrial clients. Her approach has also earned respect and credibility with regulatory agency staff and opposing counsel alike.

Nicole routinely negotiates NPDES Permits, WDRs, and water reclamation requirements with the State Board and Regional Water Boards for municipal wastewater, industrial process water, and all types of storm water discharges, as well as reclamation projects, and her involvement consistently results in more favorable and reasonable permit provisions. She is also heavily involved in the development of TMDLS and all aspects of Basin Planning, and has positively contributed to and influenced important statewide policies, a recent example involving her testimony that beneficially influenced the terms of the State Board's compliance schedule policy.

When unsatisfactory permits or enforcement actions (ACLs) are issued or undertaken by the State and Regional Boards, and all other avenues for conflict resolution have been exhausted, Nicole prosecutes administrative and judicial appeals before the State Water Board and all state courts. In doing so, she successfully invalidates or refines the interpretation of particularly problematic provisions, and reduces or eliminates the severity of penalties and excessive or unnecessary compliance requirements.

Given Nicole's extensive knowledge of the complex regulatory schemes created by the federal Clean Water Act and California Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, she is frequently retained to defend public and private entities against third-party citizen suits filed by Baykeeper, Sierra Club, NRDC, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, California River Watch, and other similar groups in federal court, and she has successfully litigated or resolved over fifty such cases in the last fifteen years involving wastewater, process water, and storm water discharges.


Professional, Community And Pro Bono Involvement

  • Associate Member, California Association of Sanitation Agencies and Attorneys Committee
  • Member, Central Valley Clean Water Association
  • Member, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, Legal Affairs Committee
  • Member and Counsel, California Stormwater Quality Association
  • Member, Bay Planning Coalition
  • Member, Federal Bar Association, Sacramento Chapter
  • Member, State Bar of California , Environmental Law Section
  • Member, Sacramento County Bar Association, Environmental Law Section

Honors And Rankings

  • Chair, Environmental Law Practice Group, Downey Brand LLP, 2012 – present
  • Specialized Certificate in Environmental Law, University of Oregon, 1998
  • Judicial Clerkship, Contra Costa Superior Court, 1997
  • Magna cum laude honors, University of California, San Diego, 1995
  • Provost Honor List, University of California, San Diego, 1993 - 1995

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