American Bar Association
Water Resources

Water Resources

Message From The Co-Chairs

SEER’s Water Resources Committee is kicking off an exciting 2016-2017 bar year! Co-chairs Andrea Clark and Sorell Negro are delighted to be working with a terrific team of vice chairs:

  • Newsletter Vice Chair: Jeff Kray

  • Programs Co-Vice Chair: Roger Sims

  • Programs Co-Vice Chair: Nancy Bethurem

  • Year-in-Review Vice Chair: Mitra Pemberton

  • Membership Vice Chair: Scott Warner

  • E-Communications Vice Chair: Kyle Robisch

  • Social Media Vice Chair: Dave Gold

Kyle Robisch will be leading the fabulous Team Website in its fourth year of providing Committee members with water law case summaries and Hot News. These summaries involve water law cases all over the country. If you would like to contribute, such as by writing a case summary or volunteering as an editor, please contact Kyle directly at

We are also looking forward to SEER’s Fall Conference on October 5-8, 2016 in Denver, at the Denver Westin Downtown. Click here to learn more and register: We hope to see you there!

Under the direction of Nathan Bracken, the Committee is preparing for the 35th Annual SEER Water Law Conference, which will be March 28-29, 2017, at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles. This is the same SEER Water Law Conference that used to be held in February in San Diego, and was held in Las Vegas in 2013 and 2014; Denver in 2015; and Austin last year in connection with SEER’s Spring Conference. The 2017 conference will also be in connection with SEER’s Spring Conference, which will be March 29-31, 2017, also at the Loews Hollywood Hotel. The conferences are only possible with the help of the remarkable people on our planning committees. Thank you all!

Jeff Kray, Executive Editor of the Committee’s newsletter, continues to work hard on the multiple committee newsletters we will be publishing this year. If you have an article you would like to submit for consideration, please contact Jeff B. Kray at

We always welcome members to become involved in the Committee’s ongoing evolution, especially with respect to program suggestions and contributions to the Committee Newsletter. Contact us at, (916) 520-5424, or, (786) 725-4112, with any ideas you have about how the Water Resources Committee or SEER can better serve you, or if you want to be more involved, but aren’t sure how best to contribute or what opportunities would be best for you. We look forward to hearing from you and working together this year!

Andrea Clark and Sorell Negro
2016-2017 Co-Chairs, Water Resources Committee
ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources

Committee Description, Awards, & Events

The Water Resources Committee focuses on substantive and practice developments that impact water allocation and availability for all water users. These developments fall into a broad spectrum of subject areas, including state water law; federal and tribal water law; issues arising under the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act; interstate allocation of water; the Public Trust and Prior Appropriation Doctrines; reserved water rights; state, local and municipal water supply; water rights transfers; and federal reclamation law. In light of increasing issues of water scarcity, the committee's interests encompass the interdependence of water uses by all economic sectors - agriculture, mining, fisheries, tourism, energy, and water and wastewater utilities among them - and the inescapable connection between water quantity and water quality.


The Water Resources Committee was awarded a certificate of recognition for "Best Newsletter" of the 2015-2016 bar year!

According to the ABA, the “Best Newsletter” is distinguished by quality and consistency over a sustained period of time. The winning newsletter may also have demonstrated successful innovations in newsletter development, such as collaboration with other committees, involvement of young lawyers or law students, publication of high-profile authors, and production of special topic issues.

Congratulations and thank you to our Newsletter Editor, Jeff Kray, to past-chair, David Johnson, and current co-chairs Sorell Negro and Andrea Clark!

Recent Water Law Cases & Hot News

Recent Water Law Cases

You can visit the archived cases here.

Updated on April 27, 2016

Reading Area Water Authority. v. Schuylkill River Greenway Association 2014 WL 4745698 (Pa. Sept. 24, 2014) By John Hunt

In 2010, the Reading Area Water Authority (“RAWA”), a municipal authority in Reading, Pennsylvania, filed a Declaration of Taking Complaint against the Schuylkill River Greenway Association (“the Greenway”) in Berks County common pleas court, in which RAWA requested a decree condemning a 50-foot-wide easement across the Greenway’s property.

Alt v. United States Environmental Protection Agency 758 F.3d 588 (4th Cir. July 14, 2014) By Sabrina Williams

On July 14, 2014 the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a decision from the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia denying the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (“CBF”) motion to intervene in a poultry farmer’s lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”).

Hot News

You can visit the archived news here. If you've seen a recent news story you would like us to share, please contact Kyle Robisch.

Responding to Citizen Petition, EPA Reviews Wisconsin NPDES Delegation
In response to a petition filed last year, EPA officials are reviewing documents related to forty-seven NPDES permits issued by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. According to the petition, the Wisconsin DNR issued permits that contravene CWA duties, restrict the rights of state citizens, and violate public participation requirements. EPA has never withdrawn state delegation as a result of a citizen petition, and a state spokesperson commented that the EPA review is standard procedure, the Lacrosse Tribune reported.

New Legislation Recognizes Meadows and Forests as “Integral Components of California’s Water Infrastructure”
On September 27th Governor Brown signed AB-2480 into law, recognizing the role that source watersheds play in maintaining the state’s water supply. The short bill recognizes that as “climate change advances, source watersheds . . . are of particular importance to maintaining the reliability, quantity, timing, and quality of California’s environmental, drinking, and agricultural water supply.” The new law allows use of infrastructure bonds for watershed restoration and protection, and lists financing-eligible repair and maintenance activities that include vegetation management, meadow restoration, road removal, and more. Read more at: American Rivers.

Issues of First Impression in Mississippi v. Tennessee
When the Supreme Court hears arguments in Mississippi v. Tennessee, the justices will have to decide for the first time what law applies to interstate groundwater resources like the disputed Sparta-Memphis Sand Aquifer. Mississippi alleges that the city of Memphis is extracting so much from the aquifer that a groundwater depression has formed beneath the city. That depression, the state argues, is drawing in so much water from Mississippi that the state is owed $615 million in compensation. The Solicitor General has argued in support of Tennessee’s contention that the aquifer should be treated like an interstate river, and be subject to equitable apportionment. Read more at: Circle of Blue.

Supreme Court Upholds Right to Challenge Army Corps CWA Jurisdiction Determinations of WOTUS in Hawkes - May 31, 2016
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes that an Army Corps “jurisdictional determination” is a “final agency action” subject to judicial review because of the significant financial and even criminal consequences for landowners if they disregard such a determination. The ruling upheld the Eighth Circuit's ruling in the matter and will surely play a part in the ongoing judicial interpretations of EPA's Clean Water Rule on defining Waters of the U.S. Read more here.

North Carolina Supreme Court Considers Asheville Water System Case - May 24, 2016
Last week, the North Carolina Supreme Court heard oral argument on a challenge to a North Carolina law that transfers control of the Asheville water system from city officials to a board comprised of officials from a two-county area, of which Asheville representatives would be a minority. More than 120,000 people utilize the Asheville water system, both inside and outside the city limits. Although most of the Court’s questions concerned whether the law in question violates a state constitutional provision prohibiting local laws relating to health and sanitation, the Court also questioned whether the state assembly has the authority to transfer an asset worth millions of dollars from one governmental entity to another without compensation. A decision is not expected for several months.

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2016-2017 Water Resources Committee Leadership

View the full roster of Water Resources Committee leadership.

View Committee Newsletters

Committee newsletters provide current information on topics of interest to practitioners and news of committee activities. View the latest committee newsletter.

Committee Chair


Clark, Andrea
Negro, Sorell

Committee Roster  

Committee Calls

Bi-monthly committee calls (for discussion regarding what we are working on as well as new ideas for the committee) will take place on the third Thursday of each month.

Sites of Interest

Water Resources - Archive

Modified by Peter Clark on October 24, 2016

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