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

Areas

Education

  • George Washington University Law School (J.D., 2011)
  • University of Arizona (B.A., 2008)

Clerkship

  • Hon. Laura D. Millman, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Office of Special Masters (2011-2012)

Admissions

  • California
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States District Court for the Central District of California
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of California
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of California
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States Court of Federal Claims

Brittany K. Johnson
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LinkedIn Bio

Respected for her leadership and resourceful lawyering, Brittany Johnson blends creativity with laser-focused research to deliver value for her water quality and water resources clients inside and outside the courtroom.  Her practice focuses on helping water users and wastewater dischargers understand and comply with regulations affecting operations and facilities.

In the water quality arena, Brittany advises publicly owned wastewater treatment plants and private companies on compliance with discharge permits and avoidance of permit violations.  Brittany helps facilities with permit renewal and term negotiations to ensure sound and agreeble stormwater management plans.  She comfortably collaborates among key stakeholders and senior leadership at regional water quality control boards, cities, municipalities, and other agencies to ensure her clients operate efficiently and effectively for their customers.  When lawsuits threaten those services, Brittany seamlessly transitions to strategist and problem-solver in defending enforcement actions.

Brittany also represents water users on water rights matters and in litigation arising from the management and implementation of their water rights.  This work includes years of litigation on Endangered Species Act (ESA) cases challenging consultations on historic water contracts held by senior water right holders in the Sacramento Valley, and ESA cases challenging the complex consultations for operations of the Central Valley Project and the Klamath Project.

Known for her experience with interstate water matters, Brittany is an integral member of the litigation team for the State of Teas in the original jurisdiction action before the United States Supreme Court, Texas v. New Mexico, regarding the interpretation and enforcement of the Rio Grande Compact.  She has worked on the case since the filing of the complaint in 2013, managing the briefing efforts to the Special Master and the Court to defeat New Mexico’s motion to dismiss, and working with the team on all aspects of discovery.

Brittany also advises clients on the Colorado River, working with Section 5 water contractors to navigate the Law of the River and providing strategic and legal advice on water transfers and other projects under the complex set of authorities.  On a different aspect of Colorado River operations, Brittany represented the Arizona Power Authority and assisted the agency in developing its historic allocation of Hoover power within Arizona, and negotiating its 50-year contract with federal agencies for its Hoover power allocation.

Prior to practicing natural resources law and litigation, Brittany served as a law clerk to the Honorable Laura D. Millman at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Office of Special Masters, where she had the unique experience of working on Vaccine Act claims.

A native of Arizona, Brittany spends her time outside with her husband chasing their young daughter, whether on the walking trails along the American River Parkway or in the backyard with their pack of three dogs.  Brittany enjoys shopping at local nurseries in Sacramento to find plants and flowers to bring color to her home and garden, experimental dining nights with friends, and drinking Amador County wine on patios and playdates.  Brittany is an everyday skier with plans to master the black diamonds and keep up with her Boulder colleagues one day.

Representative Matters

Water Resources

Assist in representation of State of Texas in Original Action No. 141 before United States Supreme Court regarding interpretation and enforcement of the Rio Grande Compact, including successfully defending the State of New Mexico’s motion to dismiss Texas’s Complaint.

Represent numerous water right permit and license holders, including irrigation districts, Central Valley Project contractors, and their representative associations, in Northern California Water Association v. State Water Resources Control Board, the long-running litigation challenging the State Water Resources Control Board’s water right fees scheme.

Represent irrigation district and growers in federal litigation challenging the management of historical agricultural lands in national wildlife refuges in the Klamath Reclamation Project.

Advise Colorado River water contractor in Arizona on Colorado River management issues, including planning actions under the 2007 Guidelines, Arizona v. California Consolidated Decree, and other Law of the River authorities.

Endangered Species Act

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

Represent Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District and other Sacramento River Settlement Contractors in federal district court lawsuits challenging the Section 7 consultations for the long-term operations of the Central Valley Project.

Represent Klamath water users in federal district court lawsuits challenging the Section 7 consultations on Klamath Project operations.

Water Quality

Advise regional clean water association on regulatory advocacy efforts to state and regional water quality control boards.

Advise municipality in development of stormwater management plan.

Advise publicly-owned treatment works (POTWs) in evaluating, negotiating, and obtaining National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits issued by regional water quality control boards.

Provide regulatory advice and develop comments for POTWs and regional clean water association in state water quality control planning processes.

Represent POTWs in litigation of NPDES permit requirements.

Provide ongoing regulatory and legal advice to POTWs.

Power

Advise state power authority in 50-year allocation of Hoover power within the state.

Advise state power authority and negotiate 50-year contract with Western Area Power Administration.

Advise electric cooperative on regulatory compliance and property matters.

Advise cities in evaluating development of hydropower projects and FERC licensing process.

Insights and Activities

  • Co-author, “Texas v. New Mexico & Colorado: An Update from Year Six in the Original Action,” The Water Report, April 2019
  • Presenter, “Water and Power at Hoover Dam – New 50-Year Contracts in Arizona, California, and Nevada,” Western Water Law Conference, San Diego, February 8, 2017
  • Presenter, “Post-2017 Hoover Power Contracting:  Managing Risk and Resolving Other Challenges with a 50-Year Contract,” APPA Legal & Regulatory Conference, Long Beach, October 17, 2016
  • Presenter, “Managing Sacramento River Water Supplies for Agriculture and Multiple Beneficial Uses,” California Water Law & Policy Conference, San Francisco, June 14, 2016
  • Presenter, “Post-2017 Hoover Power Contracting:  Managing Risk and Resolving Other Challenges with a Fifty-Year Contract,” Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners, Lake Tahoe, NV, May 23, 2016
  • Membership Committee, 2020; and Regional Team Member, 2016-present, Association of Women in Water, Energy, and Environment
  • Selectee, Northern California Water Association, Norcal Water Leaders Program, Class of 2020
  • Attorneys Committee, California Association of Sanitation Agencies
  • Member, Sacramento County Bar Association, Environmental Law Section, 2013-present
  • Member, Junior League of Sacramento, 2015-2017
  • Selected for inclusion, Northern California Super Lawyers, Rising Stars, 2019-present

Recent Articles

State Water Resources Control Board Adopts Resolution Approving State Wetland Definition and Dredge and Fill Procedures

On April 6, 2021, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) approved the application of the State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to ... Read More

Bureau of Reclamation Updates Its Approach to ESA Section 7 Consultations for Klamath Project Operations, Applying Recent Legal Authorities and New Solicitor Guidance

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) released three documents related to its consultation obligations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for its operation of the Klamath Project (Project) in south-central ... Read More

Sacramento Superior Court Rejects State Water Board’s Attempt to Apply Water Quality Control Plan to Waters Not Covered by the Clean Water Act

The Sacramento County Superior Court recently issued a final decision in San Joaquin Tributaries Authority v. California State Water Resources Control Board, finding that the State Water Resources Control Board ... Read More

Education

  • George Washington University Law School (J.D., 2011)
  • University of Arizona (B.A., 2008)

Clerkship

  • Hon. Laura D. Millman, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Office of Special Masters (2011-2012)

Admissions

  • California
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States District Court for the Central District of California
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of California
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of California
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States Court of Federal Claims