Scott L. Shapiro

Scott L. Shapiro

Managing Partner

Scott L. Shapiro

Managing Partner

Scott Shapiro is highly regarded for his expertise in flood protection improvement projects throughout California’s Central Valley and the West, as well as his successful track record on issues of water rights and water supplies.

Scott is helping clients with more than a billion dollars in projects in California's Central Valley and issues involving the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) throughout the Western United States.

With a special focus on massive flood protection improvement projects, Scott advises clients through regulatory, contractual, financing and legislative challenges. Acting as general or special counsel, he regularly interacts with senior management at USACE (Headquarters, South Pacific Division, and Sacramento District), the California Department of Water Resources and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board. He was named to the National Section 408 Task Force and has been invited to give testimony to the National Academies. Scott was instrumental in helping the first regional flood improvement agency that took a basin threatened by flood risk from a less than 30-year level of protection to a level of protection approaching 200-year.

Having worked with FEMA on issues of floodplain mapping and levee accreditation for many years, Scott has developed collaborative environments in which he fosters win-win solutions for his clients. He is also currently serving as the lead counsel on a flood insurance rate map (FIRM) appeal.

Scott has developed significant expertise in drafting and advocating for Federal legislation in the flood protection arena. He has drafted Federal legislation to modify the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) several times and key provisions have been incorporated into acts that have become law. He has also drafted legislation affecting USACE’s mission that was incorporated into various Water Resources Development Acts with a similarly favorable outcome. Scott’s success derives out of his frequent visits to Washington D.C. and the longstanding relationships he has fostered.

Scott is also known throughout the region for his extensive litigation experience focusing on cases arising from levee failures. He has litigated levee failures resulting from underseepage, failed encroachments and rodent burrows, as well as briefing levee overtopping cases at the appellate level. Scott is one of the few attorneys with experience litigating flood cases on behalf of plaintiffs as well as defendant government entities.

In regards to water rights and water supplies, Scott has assisted many landowners, farmers and developers in ensuring an adequate water supply for proposed projects. Clients look to Scott for guidance on acquiring and securing water rights, relying on his nuanced understanding of the requirements of a Water Supply Assessment (under SB 610) and a Water Verification (under SB 221) for new developments. Scott has also drafted key chapters of these documents for contentious matters. 

Assisting other development clients with the creation of mutual water companies and resolving issues before the Public Utilities Commission, Scott provides valuable experience in this unique area of the law. He has appeared before the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) on traditional water rights issues, including the preparation and prosecution of change petitions and in defense of water rights complaints and successfully prosecuted water rights applications from initiation through final permitting.

The security of water rights and supplies associated with real property is a critical factor in the lending process for financial institutions.  Scott serves as a trusted advisor for lenders in all aspects of water rights, including evaluating the use of water for power plants, farms and residential property, with different assets acting as collateral. He understands and translates the arcane language of water rights into the clear communication required to accurately assess proposed business transactions.

Scott has developed a reputation for excellence in the specialized area of federal reclamation law, and was one of the first attorneys in the nation to negotiate a renewal of a long-term water supply contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (for a project in Southern California), and subsequently negotiated numerous other long-term water supply contracts for municipal and industrial uses in Northern California and Southern Nevada.

Experience

Flood Protection Law

  • General Counsel to the Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority, the San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency, and the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency on all issues, including formulation of nearly a billion dollars of levee improvement programs, before all regulatory agencies, and on all funding acquisition issues.
  • General Counsel, Special Counsel, or Program Manager to other regional flood agencies advancing nearly a billion dollars of levee improvement programs in California and Oregon.
  • Special Counsel for the Cities of Burlington and Mt. Vernon (Washington) prosecuting an appeal of flood insurance rate maps (FIRMs) issued by FEMA under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
  • Counsel private companies and developers throughout California on flood protection issues, including navigating complicated regulatory environments for residential, industrial, and commercial development. Interact with FEMA on issues of floodplain mapping, special hazard flood zones, levee accreditation, and floodmap appeals.
  • Defend public agencies in flood damages cases and represent flooded landowners in legal actions against State, local flood control districts, city, and private landowner.
  • Develop state and federal legislation and regulations on floodplain management issues including amendments to the National Flood Insurance Act and Water Resources Development Acts.
  • Senior Advisor to the Agricultural Floodplain Management Alliance and Convener of the National Coalition of Flood Project Partners.
  • Guide non-Federal sponsors through U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' feasibility study process including negotiation of cost-sharing agreements, drafting of key sections of report, and presenter at Civil Works Review Board (CWRB).

Water Law

  • Represent water suppliers and developers on preparation of water supply assessments under SB 610 and water verifications under SB 221.
  • Research and execute California water rights opinions.
  • Review, revise, and advise public water supplier regarding Urban Water Management Plan
  • Research and execute California water right opinions for energy company financing and refinancing new and existing facilities
  • Review and assessment of California water rights held by Nevada utility including effectiveness of documents to convey interests to successor entity
  • Draft and field water rights applications, amendments, and petitions; negotiate with parties for dismissal of protests to applications; represent water right applicants at State Water Resource Control Board hearings
  • Counsel recipients of State Water Resource Control Board Complaints; including investigating, responding, and resolving issues
  • Negotiated numerous interim and long-term water service contracts and settlement contracts with U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, including negotiation of various rate setting methodologies and renewal options
  • Counsel Central Valley Project Contract holders on numerous water related contract and water supply issues
  • Represent municipal water wholesaler on Colorado River in breach of trust lawsuit filed by Navajo Nation
  • Researched, developed, and litigated claims on behalf of local agencies against the United States under federal reclamation law resulting in a settlement that saved the local agencies more than $100 million.

Professional, Community And Pro Bono Involvement

  • Senior Fellow, American Leadership Forum, Mountain Valley Chapter, Class XVII
  • Board Member and Legal Affairs Committee Chair, Association of California Water Agencies, 2010-2013; Legal Affairs Committee Member, 2010-present
  • Board Member, Valley Vision, 2014-present; Vice President, 2016-present
  • Board Member, Shalom School, 2013-present; President, 2013-2015
  • Board Member, Jewish Community Foundation of the West, 2003-2010; President 2013-2015
  • Board Member, Hillels at Davis and Sacramento, 1995-2001; President, 1997-2000
  • Chair, Flood Team, Sacramento Metro Chamber’s Cap2Cap Program, 2007-present
  • Chair, Sacramento Metro Chamber's Cap2Cap Program, 2016
  • Member, Floodplain Management Association
  • Founding Editor-in-Chief, Floodplain Management and Liability Reporter
  • Former Member, Editorial Board, California Water Law & Policy Reporter
  • Former Contributing Editor, California Water Law Newsletter

Honors And Rankings

  • Sacramento Magazine, Top Lawyer, Environmental, 2016
  • Communication and Outreach Award, Floodplain Management Association, National Coalition of Flood Project Partners, 2013

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