Meredith E. Nikkel

Meredith E. Nikkel


Meredith E. Nikkel


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

Her practice involves administrative proceedings before the State Water Resources Control Board as well as addressing complex legal issues with novel solutions before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. Serving private and public entities, Meredith provides insightful analysis that achieves results.

Meredith has resolved water rights disputes with the Bureau of Reclamation, prosecuted groundwater claims in civil court and defended public agencies in writ proceedings. She is currently representing a broad group of water users in administrative and state court proceedings related to the proposed California WaterFix project.  Meredith also counsels water managers, boards of directors and public agencies on surface and ground water supply issues (including under the recently enacted 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 with an eye toward resolution.


  • Advise private and public entities on compliance with and implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
  • Litigate groundwater rights in courts throughout California.
  • Advise court-appointed Watermaster in the City of Los Angeles v. City of San Fernando groundwater adjudication (Los Angeles County).
  • 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.
  • Prosecute and defend writ of mandate actions in civil court.
  • Counsel public entities regarding water rights in adjudicated and unadjudicated groundwater basins.
  • 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.

Professional, Community And Pro Bono Involvement

  • Sacramento Tree Foundation, Board Member, 2018
  • Editorial Board Member, 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, Regional Team Member, 2012-present
  • Anthony M. Kennedy Inn of Court, Former Associate Member, 2009-2011
  • Former Court Appointed Special Advocate, Alameda County CASA, 2003-2004
  • Stanford Law & Policy Review, Former Co-President

Honors And Rankings

  • Sacramento Magazine, Top Lawyer, Environmental, Energy & Natural Resources, 2015-2018
  • Clerkship, Judge Barry G. Silverman, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2007-2008

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