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The Ninth Annual Comprehensive Conference on

Tribal Water in the Southwest

Key new developments for Tribal water rights and management, settlement processes and implementation, infrastructure development, and water marketing

May 25 & 26, 2022

Live Online via Interactive Broadcast

As a value added bonus, you'll receive access to downloadable audio and video recordings at no additional charge.

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Program Overview

Who Will Benefit from Attending

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

Why You will Benefit from Attending

This year the ongoing drought is keeping Tribal water rights, impacts of the changing climate, and environmental protections as front burner issues in the Southwest. For example, this year agricultural users are having to contend with Tier 1 water restrictions limiting withdrawals for irrigation. You will hear about continuing climate change impacts on water availability and negotiations among stakeholders to cut consumption this year and next.

Meanwhile, there are basin management issues to be resolved in the here and now. You will have an opportunity to hear directly from key players on what we can expect to be happening in upper and lower basins. Tribes are key players in resolution of big river issues and you will hear about effective strategies for Tribal engagement on those issues.

Colorado River management negotiations are continuing among the stakeholders, and we will be covering those negotiations and related river management issues in detail. This includes an update on the hydrology of the Colorado River Basin and how it limits the nature of options available for river management.

Litigation of Tribal water rights is on the upswing to gain access to these dwindling water supplies before it is too late. We will update you on those developments and water right settlement processes and implication challenges.

Attendees will hear from a group of speakers well versed in the significant Tribal water issues in the Southwest, who will provide their insight in what has happened in the past year and how to navigate what is expected to occur in the next few years.

This conference prides itself on offering lively and informative discussions with our speakers and we hope you will join us.

~ John C. Bezdek, Esq. of Water and Power Law Group and John B. Weldon, Jr., Esq. of Salmon Lewis & Weldon, Program Co-Chairs

What You Will Learn

  • National update on Tribal water rights settlements
  • Winters Doctrine litigation update
  • Climate change impacts on water availability
  • The 500 Plus Program to Conserve Colorado River Water
  • The Water and Tribes Initiative for the Colorado River Basin
  • Hydrological issues affectiving water management in the Colorado River Basin
  • Water management initiatives in the Colorado River Basin
  • EffectiveTribal engagement on big river issues
  • Federal Tribal water infrastructure funding opportunities
  • Strategies for preparing for implementation of water settlements
  • Effective water marketing strategies

What Participants Have Said About Similar Programs

  • This webinar provided me with great insight toward my research and some crucial points about water in the SW which relates to my interdisciplinary Indigenous-Food Energy Water Sovereignty and Security minor.
  • Very good conference and agenda w/ professional speakers. Thank you for all the information
  • "Now I have a better understanding on how Tribal Water is a big issue and there are laws, settlements, and financial gates to get through. All the speakers and topics were very interesting."
  • "Very good climatologist presentation as one of the first subjects to be touched on. Great presentations of explaining data."

Agenda Day 1

9:00 am

Mountain Standard / Pacific Daylight Time: Introduction & Overview

John C. Bezdek, Esq. , Program Co-Chair
Water and Power Law Group / Washington, DC

John B. Weldon, Jr., Esq. , Program Co-Chair
Salmon Lewis & Weldon / Phoenix, AZ

9:15 am

Special Opening Address

Tribal Water Policy Priorities at the Department of the Interior

Danna Jackson , Senior Counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Water and Science
Department of the Interior / Washington, DC

9:30 am

Congressional Update

Tribal water funding in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act; relevant parts of Build Back Better Plan that may become enacted; federal plans for divvying up undisbursed funds; prospects for additional Congressional action

Denise Desiderio , Senior Policy Advisor
Akin Gump / Washington, DC

10:00 am


10:15 am

National Update on Tribal Water Right Settlements

Overview of Tribal/state water settlements working their way through the Federal pipeline

Pamela S. Williams, Esq. , Director, Indian Water Rights Office
U.S. Department of the Interior / Phoenix, AZ

Sarah LeFlore Foley, Esq. , Policy Advisor
DOI Indian Water Rights Office / Washington, DC

11:30 am

Climate Change Impacts on Water Availability: Recently Implemented Tier 1 Water Restrictions for Agricultural Irrigation

Will they be sufficient to sustain reservoir levels to support agriculture as less water flows into the river?

Brad Udall , Senior Water & Climate Research Scientist
Colorado Water Institute / Fort Collins, CO

12:15 pm

Lunch Break

1:15 pm

The 500 Plus Program to Conserve Colorado River Water

Update on the 500 Plus program to conserve Colorado River water

Greg Adams, Esq. , Senior Attorney
Central Arizona Project / Phoenix, AZ USA

Arizona state perspective

Thomas Buschatzke , Director
Arizona Department of Water Resources / Phoenix, AZ

City of Phoenix's voluntary to relinquish some river water under the plan

Cynthia Campbell, Esq. , Water Resource Management Adviser
City of Phoenix / Phoenix, AZ

3:00 pm


3:15 pm

The Here and How: Who is Doing What for Water Management in the Colorado River Basin

Primary upper basin concerns and management priorities

Chuck Cullom , Executive Director
Upper Colorado River Commission / Salt Lake City, UT

Lower basin perspectives on river management

Thomas Buschatzke , Director
Arizona Department of Water Resources / Phoenix, AZ

Christopher S. Harris , Executive Director
Colorado River Board of California / Glendale, CA

5:00 pm

Adjourn Day 1

Thursday, May 26, 2022

9:00 am

Effective Tribal Engagement on Big River Issues

Update on the Water and Tribes Initiative for the Colorado River Basin: Collaboration by Tribes, conservation organizations, watershed groups, universities, and state and federal agencies to shape the future of the basin

Celene Hawkins, Esq. , Colorado and Colorado River Tribal Engagement Program Director
The Nature Conservancy / Boulder, CO

A view from the trenches on effective Tribal engagement

Jay Weiner, Esq.
Rosette LLP / Sacramento, CA

Federal Law and State Law Strategies for Tribes to Keep Water Instream

Paul Stanton Kibel, Esq. , Co-Director, LLM Environmental Law Program
Golden Gate University School of Law / San Francisco, CA

10:45 am


11:00 am

Hydrological Issues Affectiving Water Management in the Colorado River Basin

What you need to know about hydrologic science as it relates to a large river basin; ways in which the science can guide policy decisions; thorny issues to resolve in the upper and lower Colorado River basin

Leslie A. Meyers, P.E. , Area Manager, Phoenix Area Office
Bureau of Reclamation / Glendale, AZ

11:45 am

Winters Doctrine Litigation Update: Navajo Nation vs U.S. Department of the Interior

Ninth Circuit's reversal of the district court's dismissal, based on lack of jurisdiction, of Navajo Nation's breach of trust claim alleging that DOI failed to consider the Navajo Nation's unquantified water rights in managing the Colorado River

M. Kathryn Hoover, Esq.
Sacks Tierney / Scottsdale, AZ

12:15 pm

Lunch Break

1:15 pm

Preparing for Implementation of Water Settlements

Anticipating the legal and practical issues likely to arise so that you can develop effective implementation plans

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

Case study of the Navajo/San Juan settlement

Michelle Brown-Yazzie, Esq. , Assistant Attorney General
Navajo Nation Department of Justice / Window Rock, AZ

2:30 pm

Effective Water Marketing Strategies

Marketing Tribal water rights: Update on current water markets and examples of water transactions by Colorado River Tribes

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

3:00 pm

Evaluations and Adjourn

Faculty Bios

John C. Bezdek, John C. Bezdek, Program Co-Chair, is a shareholder at Water and Power Law Group. He formerly served as Counselor to the Deputy Secretary at the Department of the Interior and as Deputy Director of the Secretary's Indian Water Rights Office.

John B. Weldon, Jr., John B. Weldon, Jr., Program Co-Chair, is a founding member of Salmon Lewis & Weldon. His practice focuses on water law, natural resources litigation, environmental law, and Indian law. This includes representation of the largest water users' association in Arizona, an agricultural improvement and power district, and an Arizona municipality.

Greg Adams Greg Adams is a Senior Attorney at Central Arizona Project. He worked extensively on the development and implantation of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan and more recently on the "500+ Plan." Prior to joining Central Arizona Project, he was a Director at Fennemore Craig, in Phoenix, Arizona, where he advised clients on natural resources and environmental matters with a particular focus on water rights related matters.

Brett Bovee Brett Bovee is the Rocky Mountain Regional Director for WestWater Research. He has performed dozens of focused water right valuation studies and broader economic and water market analyses. This includes studies focused on water valuation, comprehensive water planning, irrigated agriculture, scenario modeling, and water project feasibility.

Katie Brossy Katie Brossy is senior counsel at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld where she advises clients regarding American Indian law and policy. She has worked on a number of highly significant Tribal issues, including one of the largest Indian water rights settlements in U.S. history and the largest Tribal trust claim settlement.

Michelle Brown-Yazzie Michelle Brown-Yazzie is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and serves as an Assistant Attorney General at the Navajo Nation Department of Justice. Her positions include as Staff Attorney and Senior Prosecutor for the Navajo Nation, Prosecutor for the Gila River Indian Community, Assistant District Attorney for McKinley County. She also has served in the judiciary and most recently was the Chief Judge for the Mescalero Apache Tribe.

Thomas Buschatzke is the Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Prior to this appointment he served as the Assistant Director of the Department's Water Planning Division, overseeing the Colorado River Management, Active Management Areas, Planning and Data Management, Assured and Adequate Water Supply and Recharge Permitting, and Statewide Planning programs and Tribal Liaison. He is responsible for multiple planning and policy, regulatory and permitting programs for the management of the state's water supplies.

Cynthia Campbell Cynthia Campbell is a Water Resource Management Adviser for the City of Phoenix. She previously served as the Manager of Water Quality Compliance for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and as an Assistant Attorney General representing the Department.

Chuck Cullom Chuck Cullom is Executive Director of the Upper Colorado River Commission (UCRC). Prior to joining the UCRC, he was the Colorado River Programs Manager for the Central Arizona Water Conservation District. His work experience includes modeling surface and groundwater systems, developing and implementing water efficiency and conservation programs, and implementing habitat conservation and endangered species protection programs.

Denise Desiderio Denise Desiderio focuses her practice on American Indian law and policy matters. She has 15 years of experience in advising on American Indian policy and regulation, working on behalf of NCAI, the largest national organization for tribal governments, and the U.S. government. In her role at NCAI, she was responsible for overseeing policy, advocating to Congress and the White House, and communicating directly with leaders of tribal governments on policy matters.

Sarah LeFlore Foley Sarah LeFlore Foley is a policy analyst in the DOI Secretary's Indian Water Rights Office where she helps coordinate Indian water rights settlement issues among the Department's issues. Previously, she was an attorney in the Solicitor's Office for nearly ten years and specialized in Indian water rights.

Christopher S. Harris is Executive Director of the Colorado River Board of California.

M. Kathryn Hoover M. Kathryn Hoover joined Sacks Tierney after serving as a principal attorney for the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, Water Rights Unit, working to advance the water rights claims of the Nation through negotiated settlements and litigation.

Danna Jackson serves the Biden administration as Senior Counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Water and Science. She has spent her entire legal career in the area of Natural Resources and Indian Law. Before returning to Washington D.C., Danna was chief legal counsel to the State of Montana's Department of Natural Resources and Conservation the agency that manages Montana's trust lands, waters, state forests, and conservation initiatives. She has spent the majority of her career in the public sector including as a federal prosecutor and a Hill staffer. Danna grew up on a cattle ranch on the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation in beautiful Western Montana.

Paul Stanton Kibel Paul Stanton Kibel is Co-Director, LLM Environmental Law Program at Golden Gate University School of Law. He is a former partner at Fitzgerald, Abbott & Beardsley LLP in the environmental/land use practice group. His recent publications include Riverflow: The Right to Keep Water Instream.

Leslie A. Meyers, P.E., Leslie A. Meyers, P.E., is Area Manager for the Phoenix Area Office of the Bureau of Reclamation. She is responsible for oversight of Reclamation's projects in Arizona including the Salt River Project and Central Arizona Project. The Bureau's constituents include Tribes, agricultural users, and municipal users.

Brad Udall Brad Udall is a Senior Water & Climate Research Scientist at the Colorado Water Institute. His background in water and climate policy issues includes serving as Director of the Western Water Assessment (University of Colorado) and as the first Director of the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment (University of Colorado). He formerly was a consulting engineer and the managing partner at Hydrosphere Resource Consultants.

Jay Weiner Jay Weiner is Of Counsel to Rosette LLP. He has developed extensive expertise in federal Indian water law, has worked on multiple Indian water rights settlements, and has represented clients in adjudications and other water-related proceedings in California, Montana, and Oregon.

Pamela S. Williams Pamela S. Williams is the Director of the Secretary's Indian Water Rights Office at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Her duties include coordinating Indian water right settlement issues among the Department's agencies, providing policy advice to officials at the highest levels of the Department and supervising Water Rights Office staff who oversee, coordinate, and manage Federal negotiation, implementation, and assessment teams that the Department has in place throughout the western United States.

Continuing Education Credits

Live credits: This program qualifies for 11.00 WA and 11.25 CA MCLE credits plus 11.00 ABCEP environmental professional credits. Upon request, we will help you apply for CLE credits in other states and other types of credits.

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