Meredith E. Nikkel

Partner

Clients facing complex water right issues rely on Meredith Nikkel’s discerning eye as a litigator and her problem-solving approach as an innovator.

Meredith’s practice addresses complex water and environmental issues with novel solutions to serve the needs of agricultural and municipal users of water throughout the State.  Meredith has handled matters at all levels, from administrative proceedings before the State Water Resources Control Board to state and federal trial and appellate courts. Serving private and public entities, Meredith provides insightful analysis that is practical and achieves results.

She has successfully defended public agencies in civil and writ proceedings, settled multi-party groundwater disputes both informally and in court, and represents a broad group of water users in administrative and state and federal court proceedings related to operation of the Central Valley Project and related water projects, including the California WaterFix project and the State Water Project. Meredith serves as special counsel to local water suppliers, counseling water managers, boards of directors, and public agencies on surface and groundwater supply issues (including under the 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 gives her the tenacity to untangle the most complicated legal issues, and the perspective to distill those issues into effective and durable solutions.


Professional, Community And Pro Bono Involvement

  • The Foundation for Natural Resources and Energy Law, Conference Planning Committee for the Water Law Institute, 2022
  • Sacramento Tree Foundation, Board of Directors, 2018-present
  • California Water Law & Policy Conference, Co-Chair, 2018-present
  • University of California at Davis Extension, Groundwater Law & Hydrology, Instructor, 2014-present
  • California Water Law & Policy Reporter, Editorial Board Member, 2013-present
  • Sacramento County Bar Association, Environmental Law Section, 2012-present
  • McClatchy Law and Public Policy Academy, Mentor, 2013-2014
  • California Lawyers Association, Environmental Law Section
  • California Lawyers Association, ELS Diversity & Inclusion Fellowship Program, Mentor, 2019
  • Association of Women in Water, Energy and Environment, 2012-present; Regional Team Member, 2012-2017
  • Anthony M. Kennedy Inn of Court, Former Associate Member, 2009-2011
  • Alameda County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), 2003-2004
  • Stanford Law & Policy Review, Former Co-President

Honors & Rankings

  • Best Lawyers in America©, Water Law, 2023
  • Sacramento Business Journal, 40 Under 40, 2019
  • Sacramento Magazine, Top Lawyer, Environmental, Energy & Natural Resources, 2015-2022
  • Clerkship, Judge Barry G. Silverman, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2007-2008
  • Successfully defend municipality in a challenge to policy designed to ensure future water supply and demand neutrality.
  • Defend local groundwater sustainability agency in challenge under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
  • Advise agricultural and municipal water users in challenges to Central Valley Project operations under the Endangered Species Act and related environmental laws.
  • Prosecute challenges to administrative decisionmaking by state entities.
  • Serve as special counsel to local municipal water suppliers on variety of water right and environmental compliance issues.
  • Secured dismissal of challenge to municipal water rights under Proposition 218.
  • Settle multi-party groundwater dispute in state court.
  • Defend historic settlement contracts held by senior water rights in federal court.
  • 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.
  • Advise private and public entities on compliance with and implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, including representation of clients in state court actions.
  • Prosecute and defend writ of mandate actions in civil court.
  • Counsel public entities regarding water rights in adjudicated and unadjudicated groundwater basins.
  • Advised court-appointed Watermaster in the City of Los Angeles v. City of San Fernando groundwater adjudication (Los Angeles County).
  • 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 a 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.

Announcements

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Speaking Engagements / Events

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Publications

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I hope to visit all 59 of the United States national parks in my lifetime. I’ve only made it to 8 so far and look ahead to the many roads I have to travel.


Professional, Community And Pro Bono Involvement

  • The Foundation for Natural Resources and Energy Law, Conference Planning Committee for the Water Law Institute, 2022
  • Sacramento Tree Foundation, Board of Directors, 2018-present
  • California Water Law & Policy Conference, Co-Chair, 2018-present
  • University of California at Davis Extension, Groundwater Law & Hydrology, Instructor, 2014-present
  • California Water Law & Policy Reporter, Editorial Board Member, 2013-present
  • Sacramento County Bar Association, Environmental Law Section, 2012-present
  • McClatchy Law and Public Policy Academy, Mentor, 2013-2014
  • California Lawyers Association, Environmental Law Section
  • California Lawyers Association, ELS Diversity & Inclusion Fellowship Program, Mentor, 2019
  • Association of Women in Water, Energy and Environment, 2012-present; Regional Team Member, 2012-2017
  • Anthony M. Kennedy Inn of Court, Former Associate Member, 2009-2011
  • Alameda County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), 2003-2004
  • Stanford Law & Policy Review, Former Co-President

Honors & Rankings

  • Best Lawyers in America©, Water Law, 2023
  • Sacramento Business Journal, 40 Under 40, 2019
  • Sacramento Magazine, Top Lawyer, Environmental, Energy & Natural Resources, 2015-2022
  • Clerkship, Judge Barry G. Silverman, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2007-2008