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

Dan McCarl



  • University of Colorado Law School (J.D., 2014)
  • University of Colorado (M.A., Mathematics, 2008)
  • University of Colorado (B.A., Mathematics, 2006)


  • Colorado

Daniel F. McCarl
LinkedIn Bio

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.

Representative Matters

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

Recent Articles

In Wake of Historic Wildfires, Redundant Water Supplies Increasingly Important for Municipalities, Other Water Users, Across the West

Like many cities across the West, Glenwood Springs, Colorado (Glenwood) has been forced to restrict residential water use this summer.[1]  But rather than drought, or lack of supply, the restrictions ... Read More

Stricter Rules Could Soon Apply to Permitting of New Groundwater Wells in the Yampa River Basin – Public Comment Period Now Open

As a result of increasing demand for water, exacerbated by the decades-long drought in the Colorado River system, the Colorado State Engineer is considering a proposal that would impose stricter ... Read More


  • University of Colorado Law School (J.D., 2014)
  • University of Colorado (M.A., Mathematics, 2008)
  • University of Colorado (B.A., Mathematics, 2006)


  • Colorado