The storied history of California’s water wars has been told and retold in movies such as China Town, and books such as Cadillac Desert, and undoubtedly mountains of lecture notes attesting to the complexity and heated nature of the decades-old disputes over
California’s fresh water.

Our state’s water woes unfortunately are deepening, as water supplies diminish due to climate change, salmon and delta fish species are pushed to the brink of extinction, and California’s burgeoning population increases demand for fresh water each year.

The continuing discharge of pollutants such as pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and poorly treated
sewage threatens the potability of California’s fresh water supply, posing a perfect storm of water supply shortfalls and water contamination crises.

Lawyers at the Law Offices of Stephan C. Volker are actively involved in educating water
suppliers of their responsibility to plan for a future with less water, to conserve water where feasible, and to withhold approval of new water-dependent projects without first identifying an available water supply and ensuring that water use will be efficient and coordinated with competing demands.

We are at the forefront of litigation enforcing the Urban Water Management Planning Act, which requires water suppliers to create long-term plans to assure that future water demand does not outpace known water supplies. With careful, accurate, and realistic planning, we believe that California’s worsening water crisis may be mitigated and that the potentially catastrophic consequences of a full-blown, multi-year drought may be minimized or avoided.

For more information on California’s system of water laws, please visit the Bureau of Land Management’s website on Western States Water Laws, here.

Notable Water Law Cases that Our Firm or Mr. Volker Has Handled Include:

  • Vineyard Area Citizens for Responsible Growth, Inc. v. City of Rancho Cordova, 40 Cal.4th 412 (2007).
  • State Water Resources Control Board Cases, 136 Cal.App.4th 674 (2006).
  • Friends of the Santa Clara River v. Castaic Lake Water Agency, 123 Cal.App.4th 1 (2004).
  • Friends of the Eel River v. Sonoma County Water Agency, 108 Cal.App.4th 859 (2003).
  • Sierra Club v. United States, 23 F.Supp.2d 1132 (N.D. Cal. 1998).
  • Newton County Wildlife Ass’n v. Rogers, 113 F.3d 110 (8th Cir. 1997).
  • Communities for a Better Environment v. Union Oil Co. of California, 83 F.3d 1111 (9th Cir. 1996). (Amicus Brief)
  • The Wilderness Society v. Tyrrel, 918 F.2d 813 (9th Cir. 1990).
  • Sierra Club v. Union Oil Co. of California, 716 F.Supp. 429 (N.D. Cal. 1989).
  • Sierra Club v. Union Oil Co. of California, 853 F.2d 667 (9th Cir. 1988).
  • Sierra Club v. Union Oil Co. of California, 22 E.R.C. 1342 (N.D. Cal. 1985).
  • Sierra Club v. Tosco Corporation, 22 E.R.C. 2117 (N.D. Cal. 1984).