Kevin O’Brien Receives The 2024 Innovative Water Management Award

April 1, 2024

Downey Brand is proud to announce that Kevin O’Brien, a senior partner in the firm’s water law practice, has been honored with the 2024 Innovative Water Management Award by the Northern California Water Association (NCWA).

For over thirty years, Kevin has represented many Sacramento Valley water districts and companies in water rights, water quality, endangered species, and environmental matters, earning a reputation for his calm, respectful, and solution-oriented approach to water management issues. “When he speaks, people listen,” said Marc Van Camp, principal engineer at MBK Engineers. “He’s a great leader, somebody you’d want at the helm when you’re in a very difficult situation.”

Kevin is widely known for always being “the adult in the room,” advocating principled positions that reflect the law and are intended to achieve a solution for not only his clients, but all parties involved. He has served as a trusted advisor and guiding presence within discussions surrounding California’s water industry and has additionally mentored countless attorneys, board members, managers, and consultants, committed to fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation to promote a sustainable future.

“Kevin is a strategic big thinker who always has a mind for what the long-term vision or goal is,” said Andrea Clark, water law colleague and partner at Downey Brand. His notable accomplishments include leading roles in the negotiation and implementation of the Sacramento River Settlement Contracts, the Agreements to Support Healthy Rivers and Landscapes (Voluntary Agreements), the previous Sacramento Valley Water Management Agreement (Phase 8 settlement), and various Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs).

Presented by the NCWA, the Innovative Water Management Award is given annually to an individual or organization who has demonstrated innovation and creativity in advancing water management in the Sacramento Valley, and Kevin’s involvement in facilitating water transfers and resolving intricate water resource disputes underscores just that. “When we look back on the Sacramento Valley, and the period we’re in, I think Kevin O’Brien’s name is going to loom large,” said President David Guy. “I think he has really shaped the way we do business in the Sacramento Valley – and that business is innovative water management.”

See the video tribute to Kevin O’Brien here.