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Panel Descriptions

2016 Water Law Symposium


Regulatory and Technological Innovation in Water Use Information, Measurement, and Data Analytics 

(Organized by UC Berkeley School of Law panel chairs)

California faces considerable current and future water management challenges. Measurement, science, and data provide the foundation for innovative techniques and technologies that will play an important role in California’s water management future. This panel highlights measurement, innovation, information, and data in multiple sectors: state regulatory agencies, water districts, and the private sector. The panel will begin by summarizing the current state of water use measurement information in California. Panelists will speak about innovations occurring in their areas of expertise, as well as the incentives and legal, economic, political, and technical barriers to innovation. Panelists will also discuss entities their organization shares data with, and long term plans or visions for increasing information flow.

Moderator: Nell Green Nylen, Research Fellow, Wheeler Institute for Water Law and Policy at Berkeley Law


Andy Sawyer, Assistant Chief Counsel, State Water Resources Control Board

Robb Barnitt, Founder and CEO, Dropcountr

Erick Soderlund, Attorney at Santa Clara Valley Water District


Local Storage and Infrastructure Projects 

(Organized by UC Davis School of Law panel chairs)

This panel will explore the challenges and opportunities associated with the acquisition and use of Proposition 1 funds to address local water concerns. The panel will touch on the role of Urban Water Management Plans, Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, and Integrated Regional Management Plans with respect to local water management.

Moderator: Katherine Spanos, Senior Staff Counsel with the California Department of Water Resources


Kamyar Guivetchi, Chief of DWR’s Division of Statewide Integrated Management

Anne Hartridge, Senior Staff Counsel at the State Water Resources Control Board

Jack Safely, Imported Supply Unit Manager at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. 


Local Paths to Water Justice

(Organized by McGeorge School of Law)

This panel would build on the environmental justice and human right to water discussion at the 2015 symposium by focusing on water justice issues in geographic areas of California not yet explored. There are no less than six different agencies within California that oversee and regulate domestic water systems in California. The panel would discuss the reality that disadvantaged communities generally lack access to clean, safe, affordable, or reliable water due to a fractured oversight and regulatory system that does not adequately protect these communities.

Moderator: Stephen McCaffrey, McGeorge School of Law, Distinguished Professor of Law


Colin Bailey, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Executive Director

Tracey O’Reilly, Miller Axline & Sawyer, Attorney

Debbie Franco, Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, Community and Rural Affairs Advisor


Implementing the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

(Organized by USF School of Law)

The ongoing drought is affecting California in profound ways including increased reliance on groundwater. Over-pumping has depleted aquifers and caused land subsidence with associated damage to roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. As climate change reduces California water supplies, increased demand for groundwater is likely to continue. To address these challenges, California passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014.  The SGMA and its implementation aims to incorporate local agencies and actors to try to combat this statewide issue. Join our panel discussion to learn more about about how SGMA implementation will affect groundwater management, and the potential conflicts that are on the horizon.

Moderator: Nathan Metcalf, Hanson Bridgett, Partner


Erik Ekdahl, State Water Resources Control Board

Michael Frantz, Turlock Irrigation District, Board of Directors

Laurel Firestone, Community Water Center, Co-Executive Director, Co-Founder, Attorney at Law


Expanding Supply and Reducing Demand-- Alternative Sources, Conservation, and Efficiency

(Organized by UC Hastings College of Law)

UC Hastings will embrace this year’s theme of “think globally, act locally” when our panel will look to at the best practices utilized by Israel and Australia.  There, the water saving practices resulted in water independence.  We hope that by exploring these practices, soon, California’s cup will runneth over, through sheer delight, and with water.

Today’s water practice standards will not be adequate for the future. California demands a lot of water for our vast agricultural areas and large population. A poor balance of supply and demand is California’s most fundamental water problem. Our continued reliance on water transfers as a way to solve our water needs is similar to watching a lake slowly evaporate. We need innovation. The panel will focus on water conservation practices such as implementing greywater systems within homes, stormwater capture, and the water rights issues surrounding our water usage.  

Moderator: Dave Owen, Hastings College of Law, Professor


Noelle Patterson, State Water Resources Control Board, Water Resources Engineer

Anya Kamenskaya, DIG Cooperative, Chief Financial Officer

Aaron Ferguson, Somach Simmons & Dunn, Associate Attorney


Water-Energy Nexus and the New Normal

(Organized by Golden Gate University School of Law panel chairs)

This panel will focus on competing water uses and water management in the context of energy. Topics will cover the California Energy Commission’s hierarchy of water management, the proposed relicensing of the Don Pedro Project and La Grange Dam, and the right to use water for fracking.

Moderator: Professor Paul Kibel, Golden Gate University School of Law, Professor


Julie Gatenbien, Water and Power Law Group, Attorney

Wes Miliband, Stoel Rives, Of Counsel

Jared Babula, California Energy Commission, Senior Staff Counsel




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