California Water Management, Policy, and Regulation in This Time of Extremes

May 17 & 19, 2022

Argent Communications 36th Annual California Water Law & Policy Virtual Conference

Downey Brand is pleased to sponsor the 36th Annual California Water Law & Policy Virtual Conference on May 17 & 19, 2022. Downey Brand water law attorneys Meredith Nikkel (Program Co-Chair), Rebecca Smith, Sherry Hartel Haus, and Brian Hamilton will be presenting. Rebecca will be speaking on the keynote panel alongside Jennifer Harder (McGeorge School of Law), Clifford Lee (formerly with California Department of Justice), and Barton “Buzz” Thompson, Jr. (Stanford Law School).

Conference Overview

California’s water law and policy remain moving targets covering ever-changing issues. This year, many topics—long-standing and new—have garnered our attention. The West’s mega-drought—complicated or caused at least in part by climate change—continues. Since California’s precipitation arrives in spurts, both water supply and flood control planning are affected by the anticipated effects of climate change remain top of mind. We’ll hear how water managers with federal, state, and local agencies are planning for this new normal. Also topical in the mix are hurdles and strategies related to water infrastructure funding.

Relatedly, this spring a well-respected group of California water law academics and practitioners released a report entitled “Updating California Water Laws to Address Drought and Climate Change.” In a Keynote Panel, several of the report’s authors will discuss the report’s recommendations and how to implement changes to long-standing water law principles in view of our changing climate. Concerns about dealing with state-level regulatory mandates at the local level, and new ethics considerations round out our first day.

The jurisdictional reach of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), narrowed under the last administration has now been re-defined. The State Water Resources Control Board continues its efforts at expanding its regulatory authority over waters of the state. And within the State Water Resources Control Board, the Administrative Hearings Office is now becoming an important venue for the resolution of water rights disputes. 

We’re also covering other timely issues of growing concern. Compliance with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in both planning and implementation remains high on the list for many water law practitioners. CEQA is ever-changing and water law practitioners need to stay abreast of case law interpretation of the act. Updates on the Endangerd Species Act, Colorado River issues, and Klamath Basin activites round out the final day.

Check out the full agenda and conference highlights on the event webpage.

Downey Brand Presentations

  • Meredith Nikkel will start things off with opening remarks on both days at 8:30 a.m.
  • Rebecca Smith will present on the keynote panel “Perspectives on the ‘Updating California Water Laws to Address Drought and Climate Change’ Report” on May 17 at 1:10 p.m.
  • Sherry Hartel Haus will present on “Ethical Rules for the Water Law Practitioner” on May 17 at 3:45 p.m.
  • Brian Hamilton will present on “GSP Adjudications and Corrective Notices” on May 19 at 2:00 p.m.


Visit the event webpage to view the full agenda and to register.