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)

Andrew M. Hitchings

Andy Hitchings has worked over 20 years on California’s most complex water rights and water supply issues.  He has played an integral role in the renewal, implementation, and defense of Sacramento River Settlement Contracts, and represents the largest of the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors.  In recent years, he has been at the center of confirming water rights for recycled water projects, and negotiating and implementing water transfer agreements.  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 two decades serving water clients, he understands the range of evolving issues, including drought management, which impacts California’s water supply and water rights.  He helps clients negotiate deals and find solutions, and has done so during periods of normal 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.

Andy’s work in the field of water law has led to expertise in local government laws, CEQA/NEPA and the Endangered Species Act.  His work also spans the length of the state, where he works with clients in both Northern and Southern California.

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 completed an 11-mile solo swim across the width of Lake Tahoe.

Representative Matters

Water Resources

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

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 Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District in the negotiation and drafting of long-term water rights settlement contract renewal 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 ongoing special water rights counsel services to the City of Santa Rosa, and the City of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department.

Represent 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 Biggs-West Gridley Water District, a senior water rights holder on the Feather River.

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.

 Endangered Species Act

Represent Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District and other Sacramento River Settlement Contractors in defense of federal district court lawsuit, and subsequent Ninth Circuit appeal, brought by environmental organizations challenging long-term water rights settlement contract renewals under the federal ESA.

Represent mutual water company and water districts that intervened in federal lawsuit 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.


Represent 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.

Represent 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.

Reported Cases

  • 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).
  • Klamath Water Users Protective Assn. v. United States Dept. of the Interior, 189 F.3d 1034 (1999).
  • North Gualala Water Co. v. SWRCB, 139 Cal.App.4th 1577 (2006).
  • In re Bay-Delta Programmatic Environmental Impact Report Coordinated Proceedings, 133 Cal.App.4th 154 (2005).


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