Somach Simmons and Dunn, Attorneys at Law Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law



  • McGeorge School of Law (J.D., 1979)
  • San Jose State University (B.A., 1970)

Stuart L. Somach

Stuart Somach’s career in water law has spanned over three decades, encompasses the entire Western United States, and has earned him a national reputation as one of the most—if not the most—respected practicing water law attorneys in the West. Among his career highlights are arguing before the U.S. and California Supreme Courts, testifying before Congress on water issues, and briefing the President at the White House.

Despite a long, prolific career working on most every category of water law issue, Mr. Somach continues to grow and expand his practice into new areas, both geographically and substantively. Over the last decade, Mr. Somach was called upon by the Central Arizona Water Conservation District to represent the Central Arizona Project and provide it with legal advice dealing with Colorado River issues. He was also retained by the State of Arizona to represent Arizona in negotiations that led to current operation of the Colorado River, and was retained by the Arizona Power Authority to represent it with respect to the allocation of Hoover power within Arizona.

Mr. Somach represents the State of Texas in an Original Action Texas brought against the State of New Mexico in the United States Supreme Court dealing with the 1938 Rio Grande Compact.

Mr. Somach developed his expertise in water law in law school and with tenures at the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior. After serving in Washington, D.C., Mr. Somach returned to California and eventually founded the firm that has grown to become Somach Simmons & Dunn.

Through the years, he has had an effect on most every aspect of water law and reclamation law in California and in the West. His practice has involved transactional work, litigation, and the development of new policy as part of his involvement in the legislative process.


Representative Matters

Reported Cases

  • California Farm Bureau Federation v. State Water Resources Control Bd. (2011) 51 Cal.4th 421.
  • Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. State Water Resources Control Bd. (2009) 45 Cal. 4th 731.
  • California Farm Bureau Federation v. California State Water Resources Control Board, 146 Cal.App.4th 1126 (2007).
  • NRDC v. Norton, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94689, December 29, 2006, Decided, January 3, 2007, Filed.
  • Orff v. United States, 545 U.S. 596 (2005).
  • In re Bay-Delta Programmatic Environmental Impact Report Coordinated Proceedings, 133 Cal.App.4th 154 (2005).
  • Smith v. Cent. Ariz. Water Conservation Dist., 418 F.3d 1028 (2005).
  • City of Barstow v. Mojave Water Agency, 23 Cal.4th 1224 (2000).
  • People ex rel. Lockyer v. Shamrock Foods Co., 24 Cal.4th 415 (2000).
  • City of Lompoc v. United States Bureau of Reclamation, 1999 U.S. App. LEXIS 3087, February 10, 1999, affirmed at 172 F.3d 55 (1999).
  • Central Ariz. Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 32 F.Supp.2d 1117 (1998).
  • Southern Cal. Edison Co. v. FERC, 325 U.S. App. D.C. 163 (1997).
  • Jordan v. City of Santa Barbara, 46 Cal.App.4th 1245 (1996).
  • State of Cal. ex rel. State Lands Com. v. Superior Court, 11 Cal.4th 50 (1995).
  • Sayles Hydro Ass’n v. Maugham, 985 F.2d 451 (9th Cir. 1993).
  • Wackerman Dairy, Inc. v. Wilson, 7 F.3d 891 (1993).
  • Beck v. United States Dept of Commerce, 982 F.2d 1332 (1992).
  • Didrickson v. United States Dept of Interior, 796 F.Supp. 1281 (1991).
  • United States v. Angle, In Equity No. 30, 760 F.Supp. 1366 (1991).
  • LaFlamme v. FERC, 852 F.2d 389 (1988).
  • Mega Renewables v. County of Shasta, 644 F.Supp. 491 (1986).
  • Western Mun. Water Dist. v. Superior Court, 187 Cal.App.3d 1104 (1986).
  • Grace Geothermal Corp. v. Northern California Power Agency, 619 F.Supp. 964 (1985).
  • County of Inyo v. City of Los Angeles, 160 Cal.App.3d 1178 (1984).
  • United States v. California, 694 F.2d 1171 (1982).
  • National Audubon Society v. Superior Court, 33 Cal.3d 419 (1983), cert. den. sub nom., City of Los Angeles Department of Water & Power v. National Audubon Society, 464 U.S. 977 (1983).
  • United States v. California, 529 F.Supp. 303 (1981).


  • McGeorge School of Law (J.D., 1979)
  • San Jose State University (B.A., 1970)