Winding canal of the Central Arizona Project (Wikimedia Commons)

Winding canal of the Central Arizona Project (Wikimedia Commons)

If you live in the American West and are a person who uses water, or if your body is approximately 70 percent water, you may need to be interested in the state of water resources.

Fortunately, a program this Thursday provides a clear-eyed view of the issues.

This Thursday, February 9, a panel discussion will examine the “Arizona Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan: Arizona Water Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty.” All the detail is here.

It begins at 1:00 p.m., and will also be available via live simulcast.

Here is more background about the program from its organizers:

The State Bar of Arizona CLE Department, Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Section, and Environmental & Natural Resources Sections are sponsoring a water program on February 9, 2017.

Of the 7 million acre-feet of water Arizona uses annually, 40 percent is Colorado River water. Arizona water managers predict Colorado River water shortages for Arizona may be as early as 2018 with the water in Lake Mead and Lake Powell now at historic low levels.

Bill Ralls, former federal water regulator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Chair of this water program, says, “With documented significant imbalances between future demands and water supply in Arizona, the time for action is now to find state and regional solutions to realize growth potential. The solution will likely be regional. The first chapter in this historic effort is now focused in the current negotiations to develop a regional drought contingency plan in the lower basin states of California, Nevada and Arizona.”

A distinguished panel of regulatory and water experts will analyze the current status of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency; Plan and Contingency Plan Plus of the Central Arizona Project.

The Colorado River cuts a pathway of 1,450 miles from the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming to Mexico, providing a water supply to nearly 40 million people in seven states. The Central Arizona Project currently transports Colorado River water several hundred miles to Maricopa, Pinal and Pima Counties, since 1986 to Phoenix, and 1994 to Tucson.

Map of the Central Arizona Project

Map of the Central Arizona Project

In addition, the panel of legal and hydrogeology experts will analyze the Arizona water regulatory framework:

  • The Arizona Corporation Commission regulation of water utilities
  • The Arizona Department of Water Resources regulation of groundwater
  • Pending Arizona wastewater reuse rule-making of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
  • Recent important water court decisions

Chair and Moderator:

  • William R. Ralls

Faculty:

  • Jay M. Johnson, General Counsel, Central Arizona Project
  • Kenneth C. Slowinski, Chief Counsel, Arizona Department of Water Resources
  • Timothy J. Sabo, Snell & Wilmer LLP
  • Charles S. Graf, R.G. Principal Hydrogeologist, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass will be the site for the 2016 State Bar of Arizona Convention.

The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass will be the site for the 2016 State Bar of Arizona Convention.

Today, I mention just one legal seminar that will be offered on Thursday, June 16, at the upcoming State Bar Convention. (All the detail is here. And the complete Convention brochure is here.)

Here is what I asked seminar chairs, followed by their responses.

Click on the seminar title to read more detail as published in the Convention brochure.

Thursday, June 16, 2:00 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

T-31: Regulating Arizona’s Desert Water Supply: An In-Depth Discussion of Public Regulation of Water Rights

Chair: Bill Ralls

T-28 Bill Ralls

Bill Ralls

Who should attend this seminar?

All business, real property, environmental, administrative and regulatory attorneys and members of the State Bar of Arizona whose clients depend upon the availability of water to sustain future development in Arizona.

What is the main takeaway a lawyer will gain by attending this seminar?

There will be a future reduction in the water delivered to Arizona from the Colorado River, probably as early as 2018, With Colorado River water shortages on the horizon and limited groundwater, our interactive panel will analyze the priorities of water use under the Law of the Colorado River and state water policies to achieve sustainable development in Arizona.

How is this seminar timely?

State, federal and regional water officials are now developing water plans to meet the reductions in water supplies, and it is timely for all water stakeholders in Arizona to be involved in the development of water priorities and policies. Also this includes involvement of attorneys in state regulation of groundwater by the Arizona Department of Water Resources, particularly proposed changes in water regulation in rural areas to protect diminishing groundwater.

A record-number of legal seminars are on offer at the 2016 State Bar of Arizona Convention.

A record-number of legal seminars are on offer at the 2016 State Bar of Arizona Convention.

What is going on now in the world of law practice that makes this topic important?

Important active litigation in Arizona courts challenging state water regulators, including the federal Bureau of Land Management challenge to the ADWR for the approval of groundwater withdrawals which may impact the San Pedro River, one of the last free flowing rivers of Arizona, and the court challenge of the Residential Utility Consumers Office to the Arizona Corporation Commission rate ruling to recognize water improvements in rates between formal rate cases for customers of privately owned water companies.

What is the most common misconception about this issue?

The view that the common law of water determines water rights in Arizona. Since the landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Arizona v. California in 1963, which recognized the federal statutory allocation of Colorado River water, and continuing with the historic 1980 Arizona Groundwater Management, which established state administrative management of groundwater in Arizona, increasingly the state and federal regulators determine water rights.

The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass will be the site for the 2016 State Bar of Arizona Convention.

The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass will be the site for the 2016 State Bar of Arizona Convention.

Today, another in a series of posts describing legal seminars at the upcoming State Bar Convention. (All the detail is here. And the complete Convention brochure is here.)

What follows are questions I asked seminar chairs, followed by their responses.

Today, I share the responses of those presenting on the morning of Thursday, June 16.

Click on the seminar title to read more detail as published in the Convention brochure.

Thursday, June 16, 8:45 a.m. – noon

T-23: ADR Talks

Chair: Steven P. Kramer

 

T-23 Steven P. Kramer

Steven P. Kramer

Who should attend this seminar?

Any practitioner involved in resolving disputes. Lawyers seeking pointers on planning, participating in and maximizing the benefits of mediation will be informed, entertained and come away with new insights. Practitioners who participate in mediation and arbitration will also learn about recent cases and legislative developments.

What is the one main takeaway a lawyer will gain by attending this seminar?

Lawyers and clients can derive great benefit from devoting careful attention to planning and preparing themselves for mediation. During mediation, there are effective approaches, tools, practices and strategies lawyers can and should employ that will make mediations more productive, meaningful and successful for their clients.

How is this seminar timely? (That is: Why do attorneys need to learn more about this topic right now? What’s going on now in the world or in law practice that makes this topic important?)

Mediation is becoming an increasingly prominent method of reaching resolution in the contexts of litigation, family law, employment and commercial disputes. Settlement conferences, rather than a step in the litigation process, can be a practitioner’s best opportunity to reach a desired result. Skillful mediation techniques and strategies are becoming a vital part of a lawyer’s arsenal.

What is the most common misconception about this issue? In other words, what do lawyers think they know, but don’t?

Misconception: The skills lawyers use to “control” the litigation process, such as the ability to take over and dominate a courtroom, serves their clients well in mediation.

Reality: This approach is often counter-productive. Mediation is not about the advocate, but about the parties. An advocate’s most important role in mediation is that of counselor and advisor. The more deeply both sides become invested in the process, the better the chance that the process will lead them to an agreement they both can accept. Attempts to intimidate, cut down or dominate the other side often cause opponents to communicate less freely, shut down or withdraw.

T-24:  Preparing for Cyber Armageddon:  Practical Tools for Law Firm Data Security, Privacy and Cyber Liability

Chair: Pat Fowler

 

T-24 Pat Fowler

Patrick Fowler

Who should attend this seminar?

This seminar should be useful to any lawyer whose practice involves using computers, mobile devices, the Internet and any form of digital technology, either in their professional capacity or in their personal life.  In other words, basically everyone.  Our speakers will include experts in cybersecurity, information technology, data breach response and cyber liability insurance.

What is the one main takeaway a lawyer will gain by attending this seminar?

Cybersecurity (including steps to reduce the risk of a breach, and a plan for quickly and effectively responding once it happens) is not something that you should put off until next month. It’s like failing to brush your teeth—ignore it long enough and bad things will happen.

How is this seminar timely? (That is: Why do attorneys need to learn more about this topic right now? What’s going on now in the world or in law practice that makes this topic important?)

Lawyers and law firms are being targeted by hackers more frequently because they are perceived as relatively easy targets. Cyber attacks on law firms can result in hackers accessing and releasing confidential and privileged client communications and records, or perhaps a ransomware attack that can lead to the total loss of all of the data on the lawyer’s computer. A data breach can result in devastating damage to a small business’ brand and reputation and can lead to the failure of that organization.

What is the most common misconception about this issue? In other words, what do lawyers think they know, but don’t?

A common misperception is that “my firm is too small for a hacker to bother with, so I don’t need to worry about it.” In fact, hackers target small businesses like small law firms because they know they don’t devote sufficient attention and resources to cyber security, and often provide the hackers with access credentials that the law firms uses to access client servers, like for electronic billing or for data rooms.

Thursday, June 16, 10:30 a.m. – noon

T-26: Supreme Advocate: Arizona Solicitors General Speak Frankly About Appeals, Politics, Mistakes and Triumphs

Co-chairs: Christina Cabanillas, Kelly Y. Schwab

Who should attend this seminar?

Anyone who wishes to know more about the roles and duties of the Arizona Solicitor General and U.S. Solicitor General, how they form legal positions and interact with the legislative and judicial branches, and how they approach litigating high-profile, hotly-debated, or other cases before Arizona and federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court.  In other words, what the heck do they do?

What is the one main takeaway a lawyer will gain by attending this seminar?

How invisible but essential a Solicitor General’s Office can be, both in Arizona, other states, and federally.

How is this seminar timely? (That is: Why do attorneys need to learn more about this topic right now? What’s going on now in the world or in law practice that makes this topic important?)

We can barely count how many cases dealing with controversial or cutting-edge subjects seem to come up in Arizona.  Understanding how the Arizona Solicitor General’s Office develops and forms legal positions and how it chooses what cases to appeal or what laws it should (or should not) defend against particular challenges is very topical.

What is the most common misconception about this issue? In other words, what do lawyers think they know, but don’t?

Some may think that the Solicitor General’s Office chooses to advocate legal positions based on the political affiliation of the Attorney General or executive branch head (governor or president).  The panelists can address this issue at the seminar.

T-28: Arizona’s Water Glass: Half Full or Half Empty? An In-Depth Discussion of CAP’s Colorado River Supply

Chair: Bill Ralls

 

T-28 Bill Ralls

Bill Ralls

Who should attend this seminar?

All business, real property, environmental, administrative and regulatory attorneys and members of the State Bar of Arizona whose clients depend upon the availability of water to sustain future development in Arizona.

What is the main takeaway a lawyer will gain by attending this seminar?

There will be a future reduction in the water delivered to Arizona from the Colorado River, probably as early as 2018, With Colorado River water shortages on the horizon and limited groundwater, our interactive panel will analyze the priorities of water use under the Law of the Colorado River and state water policies to achieve sustainable development in Arizona.

How is this seminar timely?

State, federal and regional water officials are now developing water plans to meet the reductions in water supplies, and it is timely for all water stakeholders in Arizona to be involved in the development of water priorities and policies. Also this includes involvement of attorneys in state regulation of groundwater by the Arizona Department of Water Resources, particularly proposed changes in water regulation in rural areas to protect diminishing groundwater.

What is going on now in the world of law practice that makes this topic important?

Important active litigation in Arizona courts challenging state water regulators, including the federal Bureau of Land Management challenge to the ADWR for the approval of groundwater withdrawals which may impact the San Pedro River, one of the last free flowing rivers of Arizona, and the court challenge of the Residential Utility Consumers Office to the Arizona Corporation Commission rate ruling to recognize water improvements in rates between formal rate cases for customers of privately owned water companies.

What is the most common misconception about this issue?

The view that the common law of water determines water rights in Arizona. Since the landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Arizona v. California in 1963, which recognized the federal statutory allocation of Colorado River water, and continuing with the historic 1980 Arizona Groundwater Management, which established state administrative management of groundwater in Arizona, increasingly the state and federal regulators determine water rights.

A record-number of legal seminars are on offer at the 2016 State Bar of Arizona Convention.

A record-number of legal seminars are on offer at the 2016 State Bar of Arizona Convention.

water war desertHappy anniversary, Arizona v. California.

Even if you never took a course called “Water Law,” you may recognize that court case as one of the most significant in the nation’s history. Or at least in Arizona’s history.

Today is the 50th birthday of a case that settled a battle between states over water rights and allocations that flowed from two major rivers.

You may have missed it, so I commend to you a terrific examination of the court case’s significance, as written by University of Arizona Professor Robert Glennon. He penned the piece for the Arizona Republic, and I particularly enjoyed the shout-out he gave to Arizona Attorney:

“Last year, Arizona Attorney magazine dubbed the case the most important judicial decision in the state’s history.”

UA Law Professor Robert GlennonWell, that we did. And now Republic readers know it too.

And for some confirmation that water battles are not a thing of the past, here is a story from the Yuma Sun from just last week. It describes the challenges we face as water shortages grow more acute (the article was part of a worth-reading series).

Here is Robert Glennon’s opening on Arizona v. California:

“Arizona will celebrate the 50th anniversary on June 3 of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Arizona vs. California, a decades-long feud with California over water from the Colorado and Gila rivers.”

Keep reading here.