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December 19, 2023  |  Written by Somach Simmons & Dunn

2023 Firm Highlights

As we look back on 2023, we are joyful for another year of growth at our firm and the various professional achievements of our devoted team – attorneys and staff alike.

Below, we share some of these milestones with the keen recognition that the trust of our clients, both new and long-standing, and industry colleagues keep us sharp and able to flourish.

The SSD team looks forward to many more years of practice together and wishes all a peaceful and warm holiday season.

2023 Year in Review

Stuart Somach Interviewed for Super Lawyers Magazine

Colorado Shareholders Named “Top Lawyers” by 5280 Magazine

Somach Attorneys Selected for 2023 Super Lawyers Directories

Somach Simmons & Dunn Earns 2024 Best Law Firms® Ranking in Water Law

Firm Growth

Throughout 2023, our team expanded to include Krisha Yadav-Ranjan and Ryan J. Mitchell as associates. We also welcomed Michelle E. Chester to the shareholder level and welcomed back Louinda Lacey as Of Counsel. We are pleased to announce that this month we welcomed Alyson E. Ackerman and Michael W. Daugherty to the shareholder level because of their commitment to the practice, their clients, and our firm. We look forward to more firm growth in 2024.

Rio Grande Compact Litigation

SSD, representing the state of Texas, with the cooperation of the states of Colorado and New Mexico (collectively, “Compacting States”) negotiated and proposed a consent decree that, if approved by the U.S. Supreme Court, will resolve a long-standing dispute regarding the Rio Grande Compact. The Special Master issued his report approving the consent decree in July 2023, and the report serves as his recommendation to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The United States filed exceptions to the report with the Court, the Compacting States filed responses, and 23 states (red and blue alike) filed an amicus brief supporting the consent decree. While the Court will determine the outcome of the case in the coming year, the negotiation of the consent decree by the Compacting States and its acceptance by the Special Master is a significant milestone that provides an opportunity to resolve the case and benefit more than six million people from Colorado to Mexico.

Colorado Water Courts

Our Colorado team successfully prosecuted numerous water court matters in various water divisions across the state of Colorado, including Water Divisions 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6. We obtained stipulated decrees for both new and existing water rights held by a host of public and private clients. Among many of the water court achievements, our team: obtained a stipulated decree for a new precipitation capture system on behalf of Colorado State University that will be used for research and irrigation at the City and County of Denver’s National Western Complex; settled a years-long, contentious conditional water rights matter on behalf of a client in the Colorado River Basin; obtained diligence decrees for several long-time public institutional clients; and negotiated terms and conditions protecting our clients’ water rights in various complex water court matters.

Water Rights Settlements and Adjudications

SSD attorneys also participated in numerous water rights settlements across the country. Among these varied settlements, SSD lawyers were responsible for mediating for the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh dispute over water rights along the Rio Chama in New Mexico, facilitating – with the help and expertise of the parties – a local settlement agreement. The parties continue to work cooperatively, including introducing a bill to the United States Congress for approval of the mediated settlement. Additionally, on behalf of clients in the Nooksack Basin, we promoted a bill in the Washington State Legislature, which was enacted in April 2023. The bill provides additional time for responses to a forthcoming adjudication of the Nooksack Basin expected to be filed by the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Legislation

Our team was active in monitoring state legislation this past year. In California, we engaged with our lobbyists and industry colleagues to alert legislators of hasty changes to state law regarding the State Water Resources Control Board’s authority. Through these efforts, the proposed bills are now two-year bills, allowing our lobbyists, clients, and other interested stakeholders to collaborate with legislators and opponents alike to facilitate tailored and effective statutory changes. In Colorado, we helped spearhead a successful effort to pass labeling requirements for non-flushable wipes, which was broadly supported by water and wastewater providers throughout the state.


These selected successes demonstrate Somach Simmons & Dunn’s specialized and effective legal practice across a broad spectrum of issues, venues, and geographic regions. We appreciate the complex work and look forward to helping our clients and industry colleagues accomplish more goals in 2024.

Our thanks to attorneys Michael Daugherty and Alyson Ackerman, who prepared the above case summary highlights.

Somach Simmons & Dunn provides the information in its Environmental Law & Policy Alerts and on its website for informational purposes only. This general information is not a substitute for legal advice, and users should consult with legal counsel for specific advice. In addition, using this information or sending electronic mail to Somach Simmons & Dunn or its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship with Somach Simmons & Dunn.

 

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