With a background in mathematics and groundwater hydrology, Dan McCarl brings his clients a unique advantage as a water attorney who speaks the language of engineers and understands the complex and technical questions frequently at issue in water law cases. He has also worked extensively with Indian water rights in southwest Colorado and understands the dynamics of federal and state water rights.
Dan’s experience in state and federal water matters includes applications for water rights, changes, exchanges and augmentation plans, as well as federal reserved water rights, interstate compacts and water quality law under the Clean Water Act. He has represented a variety of water users, from farmers and ranchers to ditch companies and conservancy districts, as well as Indian tribes.
As a fourth-generation Coloradan and descendent of San Luis Valley farmers and ranchers, Dan appreciates the extent to which water has shaped the history and identity of the state. He’s an avid fly fisherman and has come to know many of Colorado’s rivers and streams by wading into them and walking along their banks. More than just another area of law, water is personal to Dan.
Water & Property Rights
Has handled dozens of cases in front of the CO water courts, particularly in southwest Colorado, including negotiation of successful settlement agreements with applicants, opposers and the CO Division of Water Resources
Provided counsel to Indian tribes throughout the West, including in Colorado, Montana and Nevada, as to the adjudication, settlement and management of tribal reserved water rights
Achieved successful outcomes for institutional clients acting as lead counsel in regulatory proceedings before the Colorado Division of Water Resources and the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission
Brought, defended, mediated and negotiated numerous property rights claims, including easement, quiet title and adverse possession claims
Advised clients on federal and interstate water issues, including compliance with interstate compacts, such as the CO River Compact, the La Plata River Compact and the Arkansas River Compact
Broad range of transactional experience, from contracts for major infrastructure works and improvements (e.g., dam repair), to water leases, water deeds, carriage contracts, ditch easements, delivery contracts and well sharing and ditch sharing agreements
Experience advising political bodies/Boards, including water conservancy districts, in all aspects of decision-making and governance, including as to formation, meetings, records, budget and dissolution
Federal Public Land & Natural Resources Law
Significant expertise particular to planning, leasing and permitting oil and gas development on federal public and Indian lands
Extensive experience at all stages of the NEPA process, both in preparing and supporting as well as challenging NEPA documents, and a record of success in achieving favorable outcomes for clients by engaging in the NEPA process on their behalf
Fluent in reading federal land use plans (i.e., Resource Management Plans) and other resource management decision documents; well versed in navigating federal public land statutes, regulations, manuals and handbooks
Policy and Legislation
Significant natural resources policy expertise at the federal level, including experience drafting legislation, working with congressional staffers and preparing witnesses for testimony in front of congressional committees
Extensive experience negotiating and communicating with federal agency officials, including from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation
Authored several technical reports that have driven changes in law, policy and decision-making at the federal level, including a report that led to a Government Accountability Office investigation conducted at the request of Congress