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



  • University of San Francisco School of Law (J.D., 1991)
  • Bucknell University (B.A., 1986)

Selected Admissions

  • California
  • United States Supreme Court

Andrew M. Hitchings
LinkedIn Bio

Andy Hitchings has worked for nearly 30 years on California’s most complex water rights, water supply and water quality issues.  He has played an integral role in the renewal, implementation, and defense of Sacramento River Settlement Contracts, and has assisted numerous clients on Federal Reclamation Law contracting matters.  In recent years, he has been at the center of confirming water rights for recycled water projects, and negotiating and implementing water transfer agreements.  In addition, Andy has effectively litigated for his clients in both state and federal court, at both the trial court and appellate levels, and in administrative proceedings.  One of Andy’s key career achievements was briefing and arguing a case before the United States Supreme Court in 2001, and obtaining a unanimous ruling in his client’s favor.

After nearly three decades serving water clients, he understands the range of evolving issues, including drought management, which impacts California’s water supply and his clients’ water rights.  He helps clients negotiate deals and find solutions, and has done so during periods of adequate water supply and during periods of water scarcity.  He has also worked with different generations of water leaders with decades of experience, as well as those new to the water community who address issues with new ideas and different approaches.  His law practice spans the length of the state, where he works with clients in both Northern and Southern California.

Andy’s work in the field of water law has led to expertise in public agency law, Clean Water Act/Porter-Cologne, Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the California Environmental Quality Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and interstate river original jurisdiction matters before the United States Supreme Court.

When he is not practicing water law, Andy often can be found in the water.  An avid open water long-distance swimmer, Andy regularly swims at Lake Natoma, Folsom Lake, and Donner Lake, and in 2009 he completed an 11-mile solo swim across the width of Lake Tahoe.

Representative Matters

Water Resources

Represent special districts and mutual water companies in the Sacramento Valley in numerous in-basin and out-of-basin water transfer transactions.

Represent public and private entities in the State Water Resources Control Board’s proceedings to update the Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary (Bay-Delta Plan), and the related Voluntary Agreement process.

Prepared water supply assessment pursuant to Water Code section 10910.

Analyzed likelihood of landowner retaining water entitlement following temporary land-use change.

Represent public entity treated wastewater producers on recycled water projects and related wastewater change petition proceedings before the State Water Resources Control Board, and the drafting and negotiation of recycled water supply agreements.

Represent clients in the negotiation, drafting, implementation and defense of long-term water rights settlement contracts with the United States Bureau of Reclamation.

Represent State of Texas in original jurisdiction proceeding before United States Supreme Court regarding enforcement of the Rio Grande Compact.

Provide special water rights counsel services to the City of Santa Rosa, the City of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department, and the City of Yuba City.

Represented the City of Yuba City and Napa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District in their state court breach of contract action against the California Department of Water Resources alleging a breach of their State Water Project contracts under the state’s area-of-origin laws.

Local Government

Provide ongoing general counsel services to Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, a 150,000-acre irrigation district in the Sacramento Valley.

Provide ongoing general counsel services to Orland Unit Water Users Association, which operates and maintains the Orland Project, one of the oldest federal Reclamation Projects in the Western United States.

Provide ongoing general counsel services to Garden Highway Mutual Water Company, a senior water rights holder on the Feather River.

Provide ongoing general counsel services to the Sutter Bypass Butte Slough Water Users Association located in and adjacent to the Sutter Bypass in the Sacramento Valley.

 Endangered Species Act

Represent Sacramento River Settlement Contractors in defense of federal federal court litigation brought by environmental organizations challenging long-term water rights settlement contract renewals under the federal ESA, and federal agency Biological Opinions for the long-term operations of the Central Valley Project.

Represent mutual water company and water districts that intervened in federal court litigation brought by environmental organizations challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Biological Opinion for the Army Corps of Engineers’ operation and maintenance of dams on the Yuba River.


Represented the Klamath Water Users Protective Association in federal District Court, Court of Appeals, and United States Supreme Court proceedings involving client’s Freedom of Information Act requests to the Department of Interior, and obtained a unanimous Supreme Court opinion in client’s favor.

Represented large landowner group in successful state court challenge brought under Proposition 218 to the Monterey County Water Resources Agency’s imposition of property assessments funding the Salinas Valley Water Project.

Selected Reported Cases

  • Texas v. New Mexico, 571 U.S. 1173 (2014)
  • Francis A. Orff, et al. v. United States, et al., 545 U.S. 596 (2005).
  • United States Dept. of the Interior v. Klamath Water Users Protective Assn., 532 U.S. 1 (2001).
  • Pac. Coast Fed’n of Fishermen’s Ass’ns v. Ross, 468 F.Supp. 3d 1266 (E.D. Cal. 2020)
  • NRDC v. Zinke, 347 F.Supp. 3d 465 (E.D. Cal. 2018)
  • NRDC v. Bernhardt, No. 1:05-cv-01207, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30649 (E.D. Cal. Feb. 19, 2019).
  • Abatti v. Imperial Irrigation Dist., 52 Cal. App. 5th 236 (2020).
  • North Gualala Water Co. v. State Water Res. Control Bd., 139 Cal. App. 4th 1577 (2006).
  • In re Bay-Delta Programmatic Environmental Impact Report Coordinated Proceedings, 133 Cal. App. 4th 154 (2005).

Insights and Activities

  • Managing Shareholder, Somach Simmons & Dunn, 2012-2015 and 2020-2021
  • Legal Affairs Committee, Association of California Water Agencies

Recent Articles

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Remands Walker River Decree Public Trust Claims for Determination of Alternative Remedies

On January 28, 2021, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Ninth Circuit) issued a decision addressing issues related to the extent to which the public trust doctrine may be used ... Read More

Court of Appeal Holds That Imperial Irrigation District Landowners Only Have a Right to Water Service and Not an Individual Appurtenant Right to District Held Water Rights

Imperial Irrigation District (“IID” or “District”), which provides the only source of fresh water to California’s Imperial Valley, implemented an “equitable distribution plan” (EDP) to allocate its water entitlement amongst ... Read More

Federal District Court Denies Environmental Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction as to Shasta Dam Operations

On June 24, 2020, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California denied the preliminary injunctive relief requested by a coalition of fishery and environmental groups (Plaintiffs) ... Read More


  • University of San Francisco School of Law (J.D., 1991)
  • Bucknell University (B.A., 1986)

Selected Admissions

  • California
  • United States Supreme Court