Water is the Southwest’s most critical natural resource. Our water and water rights lawyers work closely with developers, water and other utilities, home builders, mining companies, municipalities, agribusiness, manufacturers and companies in numerous other industries on a wide range of water related legal and regulatory issues. We provide services across the full spectrum of water and water rights, including: purchase, complex regulatory, permitting and compliance; sale, lease and other transactional matters; a full range of public and private utility and water provider issues and services; and creative water resources, water infrastructure and water utility strategies for a variety of large, long-term development projects. Our lawyers understand that each state takes a unique approach to the regulation of the use of water. The combination of regulatory lawyers and litigation lawyers provides the breadth of experience to represent clients in appearances before state and federal administrative agencies and in state and federal courts throughout the Southwest. When necessary we team with lawyers from our litigation group to pursue administrative or judicial solutions to our clients' problems.
Arizona Water Rights
Arizona’s laws pertaining to water and water rights have evolved from important considerations associated with the challenges of a desert state dependent on surface and ground water linked to the Colorado river. Our water lawyers have worked extensively in such specialized areas as:
- Groundwater rights and uses in highly regulated Active Management Areas under Arizona’s Groundwater Management Act.
- Allocations and purchases of Colorado River water from the Central Arizona Project and transfers of Colorado River entitlements, as well as outside of AMA.
- Obtaining 100-year Assured Water Supply determinations for utilities and developers from the Arizona Department of Water Resources.
- Groundwater quality issues, including obtaining permits under Arizona’s Aquifer Protection program from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
- The adjudication of Arizona surface water rights in state and federal courts.
- Appearances before the Arizona Corporation Commission on regulated utility matters, such as certificates of convenience and necessity, complaints and transactional matters.
New Mexico Water Rights
- Our New Mexico water lawyers are equally well versed in New Mexico's water and water rights issues, including:
- Mendenhall water rights.
- Assisting municipalities and local communities in developing 40-Year Water Plans.
- Adjudicating New Mexico surface water rights in state and federal courts.
- Appearances before the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission on regulated utility matters.
- Appearances before the Office of the State Engineer on water rights transfers.
The firm’s water lawyers work closely with and before a wide variety of state, local and Tribal governmental agencies, as well as with numerous federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. Our substantial and comprehensive experience with the procedures and practices of these agencies permits us to structure strategies and approaches, and negotiate solutions, that facilitate and expedite successful results for our clients.
- Advised client seeking to negotiate and document the purchase, sale and lease of water rights to private and public utilities, municipalities and other governmental entities, water providers and individuals and companies in a variety of industries.
- Assisted client to create private and public water utilities and advising them on a variety of policy and operating issues.
- Counseled client in the review and research of deeds, declarations, patents, land grants and other documents to identify, quantify and determine the validity of historical water rights.
- Advised client in multi-year process to develop a water supply and the establishment of a water utility strategies to support master planned communities and other large development projects.
- Represented client in water related administrative and judicial proceedings, including regulatory and compliance issues relating to water rights, water contract and water priority disputes.
- Numerous appearances on behalf of a wide range of clients before federal, state and Tribal legislative bodies and administrative rulemaking agencies.
- Advised clients on an array of groundwater and surface water transfer issues, as well as changes in purpose and places of use issues.
- General Counsel to a large, rural water user association.
- Assisted client to perform due diligence assessments for water and water rights issues for mergers and acquisitions and for real property and water rights acquisitions.
- Drafted, negotiated and documented water agreements and instruments, including water development and supply agreements, well sharing agreements, diversification and conservation plans and long term water use plans.
- Advised on a variety of regulatory and permitting issues, including rate case proceedings, return flow and line extension policies, conservation requirements and assured water supply requirements.
- Counsel clients on specialized water issues, including, aquifer recharge and injection; water rights administration; water use on state and federal lands; federal reserved water rights; Tribal water rights; and the adjudication, acquisition and management of surface water rights and ground water rights.