Replay available from our video archive

The Seventh Annual Advanced Conference on

Tribal Water in California

A comprehensive update on current critical issues and tips for effective Tribal water strategies.

Presented on October 19 & 20, 2020

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Program Overview

Who Should Order

Attorneys, Tribal, local, state and federal governmental representatives, environmental professionals, business executives, water users and their representatives

Why You will Benefit from the Replay

Climate change and its impacts are occurring more rapidly than anticipated, and water supplies are feeling the impacts and will continue to do so in the future. At the same time the Trump administration is moving aggressively to speed up environmental review of water infrastructure projects and limit protections of endangered fish populations.That will be one of many critical federal and state policy topics we will cover during this program.

You will also have an opportunity to hear practical tips for dealing with water quantity and quality issues. These include an update on the proposed Cadiz water project and a report on AB 658 which authorizes diversion permits allowing for excess surface water capture during high-flow events; Indian water rights settlements around the country; how to protect water quality through cultural water uses; tips for adapting Tribal water strategies to take advantage of opportunities arising from, or minimize the harm from, major recent court decisions; and how Tribes can most effectively influence the State of California's implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Planning Act.

Throughout, we will explore ways in which Tribes, local governments, and water agencies can work cooperatively to ensure an adequate and sustained supply of water for mutually beneficial uses into the future. We hope you can join us.

~ Kimberly A. Cluff, Esq. of Morongo Band of Mission Indians and Colin Cloud Hampson, Esq. of Sonosky Chambers Sachse Endreson & Perry, Program Co-Chairs

What You Will Learn

  • Updated information to reflect new developments over the spring and summer will include:
  • Judicial update on recent tribal water & treaty rights decisions
  • Federal funding for water rights settlements
  • Drought contingency plans for upper and lower Colorado basins
  • Creative augmentation of water supplies
  • AB 658 and its ramifications for Tribes
  • Agua Caliente's water development inititatives
  • The proposed Cadiz water project
  • Environmental review of water resource development
  • Implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
  • Tribal consultation requirements and strategies

What Participants Said

  • Excellent coverage of a very broad topic. Speakers very informative & concise.
  • Learned a lot; well organized; expert speakers.
  • Good conference, I would attend again!

Agenda Day 1

8:00 am

Registration Opens

8:30 am

Introduction & Overview

Colin Cloud Hampson, Esq. , Program Co-Chair
Sonosky Chambers Sachse Endreson & Perry / San Diego, CA

Jeff R. Keohane, Esq. , Program Co-Chair
Keohane Law Firm / Berkeley, CA

8:45 am

Judicial Update: Recent Tribal Water & Treaty Rights Decisions

Federal courts

Catherine F. Munson, Esq.
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton / Washington, DC

At the state level

Vanessa L. Ray-Hodge, Esq.
Sonosky Chambers Sachse Endreson & Perry / Albuquerque, NM

10:00 am


10:15 am

Federal Administrative and Legislative Policy Developments Affecting Tribal Water Rights

Recent Trump Administration developments and areas of concern for Tribes about water rights and quality; early signals on what we might expect from the Democratic candidates

Michael L. Connor, Esq.
WilmerHale / Washington, DC

Prospects for continued federal funding for water rights settlements: Update on activities taking place at the key Congressional committees

Katie Brossy, Esq.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld / Washington, DC

11:30 am

Colorado River Streamflows

Update on drought contingency plans for upper and lower Colorado basins

Brett Bovee , Rocky Mountain Regional Director
WestWater Research / Fort Collins, CO

12:15 pm

Lunch (on your own)

1:30 pm

Creative Augmentation of Water Supplies: Reclaimed and Recycled Water

Technical and operational update: New developments in augmentation through reclaimed or recycled water, aquifer recharge, and stormwater capture projects

Don Bunts , Deputy General Manager
Santa Margarita Water District / Rancho Santa Margarita, CA

AB 658 and its ramifications for Tribes

Vanessa Racehorse, Esq.
Sonosky Chambers Sachse Endreson & Perry / Bonita, CA

2:45 pm


3:00 pm

Water Project Case Studies

Agua Caliente's water development inititatives

Margaret E. Park, AICP , Director of Planning and Natural Resources
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians / Palm Springs, CA

The proposed Cadiz water project to draw enough water from the aquifer under the Mojave Desert to supply 100,000 homes a year and transport it to urban Southern California: Potential impacts on the desert and new review requirements

Lisa T. Belenky, Esq. , Senior Attorney
Center for Biological Diversity / Oakland, CA

4:15 pm

Environmental Review of Tribal Resource Development

Evolving standards and pragmatic approaches for Tribes as project proponents and opponents

Michael Newland
Environmental Science Associates / Petaluma, CA

5:00 pm

Continue the Exchange of Ideas: Virtual Reception for Faculty and Attendees

Grab your favorite beverage and snack for a moment of comradery and a less structured discussion of what is happening with Tribal water in California

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

8:30 am

Update on State Implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and the Impact on Tribes

The Department of Water Resources implementation activities with a focus on the areas of greatest interest to Tribes including Tribal status as sovereigns with treaty rights to water that may supersede Groundwater Sustainability Agency plans

Jeff R. Keohane, Esq. , Program Co-Chair
Keohane Law Firm / Berkeley, CA

Holly A. Roberson, Esq.
Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard / Sacramento, CA

What Tribes need to know about state regulations for Groundwater Sustainability Plan contents and planning timelines; minimum thresholds; what happens if the minimum thresholds are below state standards; coordination requirements; other provisions

Vera H. Nelson, PE , Vice President
EKI Environment and Water, Inc. / Burlingame, CA

10:15 am


10:30 am

Tribal Consultations: Requirements and Strategies for Addressing Water Issues

Consultation when federal agencies are involved: How the process might differ depending on the statute and agency; the most effective approaches from a best practice standpoint

Thane D. Somerville, Esq.
Morisset Schlosser Jozwiak & Somerville / Seattle, WA

Consultation regarding Groundwater Sustainability Plan development and project permitting at the local level

Holly A. Roberson, Esq.
Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard / Sacramento, CA

Development of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as the end game: What an MOU should contain; practical tips for injecting consultations into CEQA, NEPA, and SGMA processes

Art Bunce, Esq.
Law Offices of Art Bunce / Escondido, CA

12:30 pm

Evaluations and Adjourn

Faculty Bios

Colin Cloud Hampson, Colin Cloud Hampson, Program Co-Chair, is a partner at Sonosky Chambers Sachse Endreson & Perry. He represents tribes and tribal organizations on a wide range of Indian law matters.

Jeff R. Keohane, Jeff R. Keohane, Program Co-Chair, is a sole practitioner focusing on representing Indian Tribes in matters including environmental and natural resources law, water law, and energy law. Recent representative projects include establishing tribal power and water utilities.

Lisa T. Belenky Lisa T. Belenky is a Senior Attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. She works on protecting rare and endangered species and their habitats under state and federal law.

Brett Bovee Brett Bovee is the Rocky Mountain Regional Director for WestWater Research. He has performed water right investigations for Federal, Tribal, and private clients, and has completed a variety of studies focused on water valuation, comprehensive water planning, irrigated agriculture, scenario modeling, and water project feasibility.

Katie Brossy Katie Brossy is senior counsel to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and focuses on representing Indian tribes, tribal governmental instrumentalities and tribally owned enterprises. This includes one of the largest Indian water rights settlements in U.S. history and the largest tribal trust claim settlement.

Art Bunce, Art Bunce, Law Offices of Art Bunce, has represented many Tribes over the years, but primarily the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the Barona Band of Mission Indians.

Don Bunts Don Bunts is Deputy General Manager of the Santa Margarita Water District.

Michael L. Connor Michael L. Connor is a partner at WilmerHale and focuses on natural resources, energy development, environmental compliance and Native American law. He previously served as Deputy Secretary of the US Department of the Interior.

Catherine F. Munson Catherine F. Munson is co-leader of the Native American Affairs practice at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. She specializes in water-related litigation and in advising clients on water matters, including water marketing, leasing, storage, protection of water quality, water regulation, and code drafting.

Vera H. Nelson, PE Vera H. Nelson, PE is Vice President at EKI Environment and Water, Inc. She has worked throughout her career on issues related to groundwater quality and sustainability.

Michael Newland Michael Newland is the Northern California Cultural Resources Director for Environmental Science Associates. He has focused his research on large-scale historic-era mining sites, Bay Area and Mojave Desert prehistory, and the effects of modern climate change on cultural resources.

Margaret E. Park is th Margaret E. Park is th e Director of Planning and Natural Resources for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of a diverse team of planning and natural resource professionals tasked with managing land planning, natural resources, development entitlements/permitting and community development.

Vanessa Racehorse, Vanessa Racehorse, Sonosky Chambers Sachse Endreson & Perry. Prior to joining Sonosky, she worked as a Deputy Attorney General for the Colorado River Indian Tribes.

Vanessa L. Ray-Hodge Vanessa L. Ray-Hodge is a partner at Sonosky Chambers Sachse Endreson & Perry. Prior to rejoining Sonosky, she served as the Senior Counselor to Solicitor Hilary Tompkins at the Department of the Interior.

Holly A. Roberson Holly A. Roberson is a shareholder at Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard. Prior to joining the firm, she served as Land Use Counsel at the California Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR).

Thane D. Somerville, Thane D. Somerville, Morisset Schlosser Jozwiak & Somerville, exclusively represents tribal governments and enterprises. His special emphasis on preservation of natural and cultural resources.

Continuing Education Credits

Live credits: Law Seminars International is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider. This program qualifies for 10.50 California MCLE, 10.25 AICP planner, and 10.25 ABCEP environmental professional credits.Upon request, we will help you apply for CLE credits in other states and other types of credits.