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



  • University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law (J.D., 2014)
  • University of Denver (B.S., 2011)


  • California
  • Colorado
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of California

Michelle E. Chester
LinkedIn Bio

Michelle is licensed in California and Colorado and her practice focuses on water rights, water quality, and land use matters. Drawing on experience in administrative and public agency law, and a background that blends environmental science and policy, Michelle supports public and private clients in solving complex problems pertaining to an array of water resource and environmental matters.

Michelle counsels clients on trial and appellate litigation, administrative adjudication, and transactional matters, including property acquisitions.  She is experienced in a variety of matters before the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and the Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Regional Water Boards), including matters regarding water right permitting and licensing as well as compliance with water quality-related programs and regulations. Her practice includes preparing and defending investigations of clients’ water rights, crafting arguments in administrative adjudications over water storage and delivery projects of statewide concern, and advising public entities in complying with discharge permitting regulations.

Michelle is a founding member of Somach Simmons & Dunn’s pro bono committee, which educates firm attorneys about available pro bono opportunities and supports attorneys’ efforts in performing public service and community outreach.  She is also a participant in the Sacramento Legal Employers Diversity Collective, a partnership between the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, and Sacramento-area legal employers.

Outside of work, Michelle enjoys hiking and running on northern California trails and exploring national parks.

Representative Matters

Assist in representation of the State of Texas in original jurisdiction proceeding before the United States Supreme Court regarding enforcement of the Rio Grande Compact.

Assist in representation of public entities in administrative and state court proceedings related to the proposed Delta Conveyance Project.

Represent landowners and public agencies with respect to the existence and scope of their water rights, including proceedings before the State Water Board.

Represent irrigation districts Fully Appropriated Stream proceedings and related water right matters before the State Water Board.

Represented a California city in water rights and quiet title litigation.

Negotiated water and sewer line easement agreement for California city.

Provide ongoing regulatory and legal advice to publicly-owned treatment works, including evaluating, negotiating, and obtaining National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits issued by regional water quality control boards.

Represent public defendants in Clean Water Act citizen suit actions.

Represent various agencies/municipalities on compliance with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Insights and Activities

  • Co-chair, Somach Simmons & Dunn Pro Bono Committee
  • Firm Representative, Sacramento Legal Employers Diversity Collective, McGeorge School of Law
  • Member, Sacramento County Bar Association
  • Member, Denver Bar Association
  • Co-Vice Chair, Year in Review: Water Resources Chapter, Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, American Bar Association, 2018-2020
  • Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Volunteer Attorney
  • California Association of Sanitation Agencies, Attorneys Committee, Vice Chair, 2024-present

Recent Articles

California Court of Appeal Holds that State Water Board Is Not Required to Investigate Whether Permitted Wastewater Discharges Amounts to Waste and Unreasonable Use

On February 27, 2023, the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District (Court of Appeal) affirmed in part and reversed in part the Los Angeles Superior Court’s decision in ... Read More

State Water Board Adopts Statewide Sanitary Sewer Systems General Order Reissuance

The California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) adopted the Statewide Sanitary Sewer Systems General Order (General Order) Reissuance at its December 6, 2022 meeting. As reported in ... Read More

End of Session Summary of PFAS Legislation in California: New Laws Ban PFAS in Textiles and Cosmetics, but Newsom Vetoes PFAS Reporting Requirement

The 2022 California legislative session, which closed in August, included three bills aimed at addressing sources of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS describe a large category of man-made chemical ... Read More

Ferguson and Chester Write for ENVIRONMENTAL LAW NEWS - Testing NEPA’s Flexibility for Forest Management Projects in California

In an article for the Spring/Summer 2022 edition of the Environmental Law News, published by the California Lawyers Association, Aaron Ferguson and Michelle Chester assess the capacity for the National ... Read More

Appellate Court Rules Los Angeles Did Not Violate CEQA When It Reduced Water Allocations to Agricultural Lessees without Environmental Review

In an opinion published on July 27, 2022, the First District Court of Appeal considered the application of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to a public agency’s administration of ... Read More


  • University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law (J.D., 2014)
  • University of Denver (B.S., 2011)


  • California
  • Colorado
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of California