Scott Shapiro is highly regarded for his expertise representing public agencies 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.