Water Law


DP&F’s Water Law group offers significant local experience in water rights and water resources law, advising clients on the multitude of laws and regulations that govern water use in California. The seasoned legal counsel provided by Tom Adams assists both private and public entities in obtaining, developing and protecting their rights to quality, reliable water supplies. Our strategic team assists wineries, farmers, ranchers, mutual water companies, real estate developers, financial institutions and special districts with water rights, water supply, water transfers, water quality and groundwater. The legal guidance we provide in preparing applications for rights to appropriate water before the California State Water Resources Control Board allows our clients to obtain and defend their water rights. We collaborate with specialists, including engineers, hydrologists, geologists, water quality specialists, and other professionals to provide assistance toward the successful resolution of water law, water rights, and other natural resource legal matters.

Tom is adept in the acquisition, development and maintenance of surface and groundwater rights as well as navigating issues related to regional management of water supplies and water transfers. DP&F water law attorneys bring a wealth of experience examining water rights as they relate to property acquisitions, including real estate developments, agricultural ventures, addressing pre-1914 rights, riparian rights, groundwater and underflow rights  and general appropriative rights.

Additionally, our experienced attorneys assist private clients in navigating the range of wetlands permitting and mitigation issues found in the Clean Water Act and rules and regulations issued by the United States Army  Corps of Engineers, California Department of Fish & Wildlife and Regional Water Quality Control Board. That work includes assisting clients in obtaining general and individual Section 404 permits, streambed alteration agreements, water quality certifications and NPDES permits, and meeting waste discharge requirements. This regulatory expertise has also been applied to matters regarding the treatment, disposal and use of recycled water. Our counsel assists both private and public clients in meeting requirements for operation of wastewater systems, including compliance with stormwater rules under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and the Clean Water Act.