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



  • University of California, Davis, King Hall School of Law (J.D., 1996)
  • Harvard University (A.B., 1988, magna cum laude)

Selected Admissions

  • California
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States District Court for the Central, Eastern, and Northern Districts for California

Kelley M. Taber
Of Counsel
LinkedIn Bio

Clients turn to Kelley Taber to advance some of California’s most significant public and private projects and solve complex environmental compliance, water supply and natural resource challenges. She helps public entities, developers, farmers, manufacturers, food processors and other enterprises move projects forward in a manner that is legally compliant, environmentally responsible, cost-effective and meets an organization’s strategic goals.

Kelley counsels public agencies, landowners and developers on surface and groundwater supply issues (including under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act), and compliance with environmental laws, with a particular emphasis on the California Environmental Quality Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and state and federal endangered species acts. She works closely with clients and their consultants to develop and secure land use entitlements and water supplies for residential, commercial, industrial and recreational development and agriculture throughout California, including water rights due diligence, environmental review and permitting, and negotiation and implementation of water transfers. She represents clients before the State Water Resources Control Board in legislative and quasi-adjudicatory proceedings, and in administrative litigation before state and federal court. The projects she advances are as diverse as recycled water treatment and conveyance projects, active adult communities, cattle ranches, wineries, and e-commerce facilities.

Outside of work she enjoys hiking throughout the western United States and reading about California history, as well as volunteering her time in support of young people in the greater Sacramento area. A leader in community organizations, she has served as a Little League and school board president, and has been a long-time member of the Harvard schools committee.

Representative Matters

Endangered Species and Wetlands

Assisted family-owned and operated cattle ranch in obtaining the first National Marine Fisheries Service Safe Harbor Agreement and Enhancement of Survival Permit in connection with dedication of pre-1914 water rights to benefit coho salmon in Siskiyou County, providing regulatory assurances and ensuring the long-term sustainability of historic ranching operation.

Represent the City of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department in obtaining a Low Effect Habitat Conservation Plan in connection with providing a supplemental water supply for the benefit of the Santa Ana sucker in the Santa Ana River.

Successfully defended development of eco-adventure resort on San Mateo County coast from federal Endangered Species Act challenge, obtaining favorable verdict in federal district court bench trial.

Advised the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on compliance with the state and federal Endangered Species Acts related to development of the Kern County at Delano II State Prison.

Land Use

Successfully defended CEQA challenge to El Dorado Irrigation District’s Upper Main Ditch Project.

Represented applicant in securing General Plan amendments, rezone, adoption of Specific Plan and associated local, state and federal entitlements and permits, as well as ensuring CEQA and NEPA compliance, for 2,500-unit mixed use active adult community in Fresno County.

Assisted developer of eco-adventure resort on San Mateo County coast with processing and implementation of entitlements from San Mateo County, California Coastal Commission, and successfully defended CEQA challenges to development.

Successfully defended CEQA challenge to Lucasfilm’s proposed expansion of Skywalker Ranch in Marin County.

Natural Resources

Advised nine Northern California mosquito and vector control agencies in development of comprehensive programmatic environmental impact reports for integrated mosquito and vector control programs.

Representing plastic pipe manufacturers, worked closely with staff of California Building Standards Commission and consultant team to develop and complete environmental impact report for adoption of controversial statewide regulations authorizing the use of plastic pipe and defended CEQA challenge to the adoption of regulations. The extensive environmental analysis involved detailed consideration of potential health risks from chemical leaching into drinking water.

Water Resources

Lead counsel for public agency and irrigation district petitioners in complex coordinated litigation challenging the California WaterFix EIR/EIS and WaterFix revenue bonds.

Represent developers in the Santa Nella Community Specific Plan, Merced County, in the acquisition of surface water and groundwater supply for 1,600 residential units and mixed use development.

Represent the City of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department in water rights and endangered species permitting for a wastewater recycling and groundwater recharge project including successful resolution of protests to wastewater change petition and CEQA litigation.

Represented Conaway Preservation Group in partial assignment of Sacramento River Settlement Contract to Woodland Davis Clean Water Agency, including resolution of protests to state water rights permit proceedings.

Advise the United Water Conservation District in Ventura County on state and federal environmental permitting, including CEQA, NEPA, ESA, CESA, water rights and California Fish and Game Code (Lake and Streambed Alteration Agreements), for operation, maintenance, and major modifications to United’s surface water diversion, storage, conveyance, and groundwater recharge facilities.

Represented private entity in obtaining state water right diversion and storage permits, land use, and environmental permitting for five inline reservoirs in Marin County, including resolution of protests to state water right permit applications.

Provide ongoing advice regarding CEQA compliance for Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (Regional San) in connection with its conveyance, treatment, disposal, and recycling of wastewater.  Worked extensively with Regional San staff and consultant team to develop comprehensive EIR and extensive supporting technical data evaluating the state’s largest discharge of treated wastewater to a surface water body and associated recycled water delivery program, including water rights permitting, for agricultural use and groundwater recharge.


Successfully represented major national food processor in defense of threatened federal debarment through development of comprehensive environmental compliance program.

On behalf of one of the largest U.S. poultry processors, negotiated settlement with U.S. EPA of threatened litigation under federal Emergency and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA), including significant reduction in penalties through development and approval of Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs).

Represented steel products manufacturer in defense of threatened EPCRA lawsuit, avoiding litigation by successfully negotiating favorable settlement with U.S. EPA, including major reduction in penalties.

Represented major Central Valley dairy, negotiated settlement with U.S. EPA of threatened EPCRA litigation, resulting in substantial reduction in penalties.

Recent Articles

SGMA Implementation and CEQA: Is Now the Time to Reconsider a Statutory Exemption?

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which requires local agencies to form Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to adopt Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) to ensure sustainable groundwater management in all high- ... Read More

Court of Appeal Sides with Parties Seeking Attorneys’ Fees for Challenge to California WaterFix Project

Siding with public agencies and environmental groups who filed numerous legal challenges to the “twin tunnel” Delta conveyance project known as California WaterFix, the Third District Court of Appeal today ... Read More

Third District Court of Appeal Rejects CEQA Challenge to Project Converting Open Ditch to Pipe, Providing Valuable Guidance Regarding the Analysis of Indirect and Wildfire Impacts

A recent decision by the Third District Court of Appeal upholding El Dorado Irrigation District’s (EID) environmental document for a ditch piping project will provide helpful guidance to water agencies ... Read More


  • University of California, Davis, King Hall School of Law (J.D., 1996)
  • Harvard University (A.B., 1988, magna cum laude)

Selected Admissions

  • California
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States District Court for the Central, Eastern, and Northern Districts for California