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.


Professional, Community And Pro Bono Involvement

  • American Leadership Forum, Mountain Valley Chapter, Senior Fellow, Class XVII
  • Valley Vision, Chair, 2018-2019; Vice Chair, 2016-2017; Board Member, 2014-present
  • Association of California Water Agencies, 2010-2013; Legal Affairs Committee Member, Board Member and Legal Affairs Committee Chair, 2010-present
  • Shalom School, Board Member, 2013-present; President, 2013-2015
  • Jewish Community Foundation of the West, Board Member, 2003-2010; President 2013-2015
  • Hillels at Davis and Sacramento, Board Member, 1995-2001; President, 1997-2000
  • Sacramento Metro Chamber, Cap2Cap Program, Chair 2016; Flood Team Co-Chair and Steering Committee, 2007-present
  • Floodplain Management Association
  • California Central Valley Flood Control Association
  • National Association of Flood & Stormwater Management Agencies, Member, 2019
  • Leadership Sacramento, Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, Class of 2001
  • Floodplain Management and Liability Reporter, Founding Editor-In-Chief
  • Editorial Board, California Water Law & Policy Reporter, Former Member
  • California Water Law Newsletter, Former Contributing Editor

Honors & Rankings

  • Best Lawyers in America©, Water Law, 2018-2020
  • Sacramento Magazine, Top Lawyer, Environmental, Energy & Natural Resources, State, Local & Municipal, 2016-2019
  • Sacramento Business Journal, Best of the Bar, 2017-2019
  • Communication and Outreach Award, Floodplain Management Association, National Coalition of Flood Project Partners, 2013

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.

In the News

25 related items

Press Releases

12 related items

Speaking Engagements / Events

60 related items
  • December 3, 2019
    Government Code Section 1090: How to Stay Out of the Headlines (and Out of Jail)
    Moderator, ACWA Legal Briefing and CLE Workshop
  • September 3-6, 2019
    Fundamentals of Flood Management Law and Liability
    Moderator/Panelist, Floodplain Management Association's 2019 Annual Conference
  • August 19-22, 2019
    Current Legal Issues in Flood, Floodplain & Water Quality Management
    Speaker, National Association of Flood & Stormwater Management Annual Meeting
  • June 20, 2019
    Flood Control and Water Storage—Concerns and Movement on New Projects
    Presenter, Argent's 34th Annual California Water Law & Policy Conference
  • November 27, 2018
    2018 ACWA Legal Briefing & CLE Workshop Presented by Downey Brand LLP
    ACWA 2018 Fall Conference & Exhibition
  • September 4-7, 2018
    Round Table Discussion With California Flood Management Entities
    Speaker, Floodplain Management Association's 2018 Annual Conference: Sustainability in the Face of Change
  • September 4-7, 2018
    Agricultural Floodplain Management
    Panelist, Floodplain Management Association's 2018 Annual Conference: Sustainability in the Face of Change
  • September 4-7, 2018
    Water Resource Infrastructure Financing Under the Trump Administration
    Moderator/Panelist, Floodplain Management Association's 2018 Annual Conference: Sustainability in the Face of Change
  • March 21, 2018
    Post-Disaster: Weathering Scrutiny of Flood Management Decisions
    Presenter, California Central Valley Flood Control Association (CCVFCA) Annual Flood Forum
  • November 17, 2017
    Floodplain Development and Management in Northern California
    The Seminar Group
  • November 17, 2017
    NFIP Implementation in California
    Co-presenter, The Seminar Group's Seminar on Floodplain Development and Management in Northern California
  • September 2016
    Federal Flood Control Issues 2016 Update: A Legal Perspective
    Moderator, Floodplain Management Association Annual Conference
  • August 2016
    Current Legal Issues in Flood, Flood Plain, and Water Quality Management
    Presenter, National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA) 2016 Annual Meeting
  • August 2016
    Levee Accreditation 101 – A Primer for Oregon Levee Agencies
    Presenter, Oregon Levee Workshop in Portland, OR
  • September 9, 2015
    Executive Order Update: Flood Risk Management Standard – Why, What & How
    Presenter, Floodplain Management Association Annual Conference
  • August 19, 2015
    Federal Legal Flood Update
    Presenter, National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA) 2015 Annual Meeting
  • March 18, 2015
    All Systems Flow: Bypasses Clear & Ready
    Presenter, California Central Valley Flood Control Association (CCVFCA) Annual Flood Forum
  • November 2014
    Leveraging for Levees
    Keynote Speaker, Symposium sponsored by Oregon Solutions
  • November 2014
    Opportunities for Federal and Local Collaboration
    Presenter, Society of American Military Engineers Northwest Conference
  • September 1, 2014
    Like Placing a Square Peg in a Round Hole: Obtaining Section 408 Approvals for Locally Implemented Flood Control Projects
    Presenter, Floodplain Management Association Annual Conference
  • March 19, 2014
    Flood Risk Reduction: Future Funding After Prop 1E
    Presenter, California Central Valley Flood Control Association (CCVFCA) Annual Flood Forum
  • July 17, 2013
    A Look at the Sutter Basin Process
    Presenter, National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA) 2013 Annual Meeting
  • August 2012
    Update on USACE Crediting and Section 408 Permitting Issues
    Presenter, National Association of Flood & Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA) 2012 Annual Meeting
  • September 2011
    Impact on Local Communities: Flood Insurance Costs and Requirements
    Panelist, Floodplain Management Association Annual Conference
  • September 2011
    Ten Easy Steps for a FEMA Appeal
    Presenter, Floodplain Management Association Annual Conference
  • April 22-23, 2010
    Like Slogging Through Mud: The Challenges of Implementing a Flood Protection Project in 2010
    Co-Chair and Presenter, Argent Communications 25th Annual California Water Law and Policy Conference
  • January 2008
    Water Law Basics to the Intricacies of the Clean Water Act and Beyond
    Co-Chair and Presenter, CLE International, Nevada Water Law Conference
  • 2007
    California’s Bifurcated Water Law System
    Guest Lecturer, Lewis and Clark Law School
  • 2007
    Just What is the State’s Plan of Flood Control?
    Moderator and Presenter, ACWA Spring Conference with Assembly members Wolk and Laird, DWR Director Lester Snow and Senate Committee Consultant Dennis O'Connor
  • 2007
    Local and Regional Perspectives
    Speaker and Moderator, 2007 Levee Conference: Still Battling the Inland Sea
  • 2007
    Updating the State Plan for Flood Control and Risk Management in the Lower Sacramento Valley
    Moderator, American River Watershed Conference
  • 2006
    Rethinking the Sacramento and San Joaquin Flood Control Projects: A Dialogue on Structural and Institutional Changes for the 21st Century
    Speaker and Moderator, California Water Law & Policy Conference
  • 2006
    The Challenge of Aging Water Infrastructure: How Big is the Problem and Who Pays the Bill
    Speaker, American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources
  • 2006
    The Emerging Flood Control Paradigm
    Moderator, Lorman Education Services
  • 2006
    Water Supply and Development: From Basics to Emerging Issues
    Speaker, State Bar of California, Real Property Law Section Retreat
  • 2006
    Who Tames Our Inland Sea? Federal, State and Local Flood Control Roles
    Moderator, Eastern District of California
  • 2005
    Development in Harm’s Way: Challenges Associated with Managing Growth in the Floodplain
    Speaker and Moderator, ACWA Fall Conference
  • 2005
    Impact of Turner v. Bassett
    Speaker, CLE International, Nevada Water Law Conference
  • 2005
    Strategies for Meeting the State’s Flood Protection Needs
    Speaker, ACWA Spring Conference
  • 2005
    The Plumas Lake Experience: A Model for the Future or an Experiment to Forget?
    Speaker, Floodplain Management Association Annual Conference
  • 2005
    Water and Flood Control for Development
    Speaker, Lorman Education Services, Zoning and Land Use Conference
  • 2005
    Water Availability and Land Use Planning
    Speaker, CLE International, California Water Law and Policy Superconference
  • 2005
    Water Supply-Land Use Logistical and Regulatory Requirements
    Speaker, CLE International, California Water Law and Policy Conference
  • 2004
    Are We There Yet:  Water Supply Planning Laws and California Land Use in 2004
    Speaker with Senator Mike Machado and Eric Parfrey, Sierra Club Officer, joint program of the State Bar of California and the Sacramento County Bar Association Environmental Law Sections
  • 2004
    Delta Levee Break: What Did We Learn?
    Speaker, ACWA Conference, General Luncheon
  • 2004
    Impacts of the Paterno Decision on Flood Control Agencies
    Speaker, California Central Valley Flood Control Association (CCVFCA) Annual Meeting
  • 2004
    The Disconnect Between Land Use Decisions and Financial Consequences [of Flood]
    Moderator, Water Education Foundation and California DWR Joint Flood Management Workshop
  • 2004
    The Public Interest Requirement for Nevada Water Rights
    Speaker, Nevada Water Resources Association Annual Conference
  • 2003
    And You Thought Pellegrino Was Expensive: The True Cost of Forgetting Water Due Diligence in Real Property Transactions
    Speaker, The Trust for Public Lands
  • 2003
    Closing the Loop on Water and Growth: A Special Briefing for Local Officials
    Speaker, Association of California Water Agencies and League of California Cities
  • 2003
    Paper Water – Making It Real: The Legal and Planning Related Issues of Locating and Verifying Supplies
    Speaker, CLE International, California Water Law and Policy Conference
  • 2003
    Perspectives on the Water Supply Planning Laws – Two Years with SB 610 and 221: How Are They Doing?
    Speaker, Association of California Water Agencies, CLE for Water Resource Professionals
  • 2003
    The Law of the Colorado River and Emerging Issues for Nevada
    Guest Lecturer, University of Nevada, Reno, Graduate Studies Program, Department of Civil Engineering
  • 2003
    Water Primer 101: The Central Valley Project
    Speaker, CLE International, California Water Law and Policy Super Conference
  • 2002
    Conservation-Preventing the Southwest’s Next Crisis
    Speaker, Nevada/California American Water Works Association Annual Conference
  • 2002
    The Water Supply-Land Use Connection: Which Comes First, the Water or the Development
    Presenter, CLE International, California Water Law & Policy Conference
  • 2001
    Overview of Nevada Water Law
    Presenter, CLE International, Nevada Water Law & Policy Conference
  • 2001
    The Water’s Got to Go Somewhere: The Effect of State and Local Policy Decisions on Flood Control Liability
    Presenter, CLE International, California Water Law & Policy Conference
  • 2000
    The Law of the Colorado River
    Presenter, CLE International, Nevada Water Law & Policy Conference
  • 1994-1999
    University of California, Davis School of Law, Environmental Law Moot Court
    Visiting Professor

Blogs

62 related items

Legal Alerts

15 related items

Publications

11 related items

I was raised to believe that after family, community is the most important thing.  As a result, most of my work focuses on how to protect communities, whether from flood, or water shortage, or other limitation.  This devotion to the community carries over into my free time where I am an active Sacramento and Jewish community leader.  My current passion is Valley Vision where I am Chair of the Board of Directors. Valley Vision promotes a vision for our community that includes economic development, social equity, and environmental stewardship. Previously, I was very involved in the leadership of the Shalom School of Sacramento, a K-6 Jewish day school where I was president of the Board.  Additional past leadership includes three terms as president of the Jewish Community Foundation of the West, two terms as president of Hillels at Davis and Sacramento, and Chair of Young Leadership Division of Jewish Federation.


Professional, Community And Pro Bono Involvement

  • American Leadership Forum, Mountain Valley Chapter, Senior Fellow, Class XVII
  • Valley Vision, Chair, 2018-2019; Vice Chair, 2016-2017; Board Member, 2014-present
  • Association of California Water Agencies, 2010-2013; Legal Affairs Committee Member, Board Member and Legal Affairs Committee Chair, 2010-present
  • Shalom School, Board Member, 2013-present; President, 2013-2015
  • Jewish Community Foundation of the West, Board Member, 2003-2010; President 2013-2015
  • Hillels at Davis and Sacramento, Board Member, 1995-2001; President, 1997-2000
  • Sacramento Metro Chamber, Cap2Cap Program, Chair 2016; Flood Team Co-Chair and Steering Committee, 2007-present
  • Floodplain Management Association
  • California Central Valley Flood Control Association
  • National Association of Flood & Stormwater Management Agencies, Member, 2019
  • Leadership Sacramento, Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, Class of 2001
  • Floodplain Management and Liability Reporter, Founding Editor-In-Chief
  • Editorial Board, California Water Law & Policy Reporter, Former Member
  • California Water Law Newsletter, Former Contributing Editor

Honors & Rankings

  • Best Lawyers in America©, Water Law, 2018-2020
  • Sacramento Magazine, Top Lawyer, Environmental, Energy & Natural Resources, State, Local & Municipal, 2016-2019
  • Sacramento Business Journal, Best of the Bar, 2017-2019
  • Communication and Outreach Award, Floodplain Management Association, National Coalition of Flood Project Partners, 2013