Wes Miliband

Wes Miliband

Wes Miliband is a water lawyer based in Sacramento and serving clients throughout the State of California.  With cross-training as advisory, transactional, and trial counsel, Wes is uniquely qualified to counsel and advocate on behalf of clients on water law matters, with a particular emphasis on water supply and water rights.  He represents individuals and public and private entities with his experience including negotiating water supply agreements, evaluating water supply assessments, and establishing and defending water rights and supplies.  Wes also works on water quality matters involving contamination to groundwater or surface water, regulatory compliance such as for NPDES permitting, and acquisition or construction of water infrastructure.  Wes is listed among Rising Stars (Environmental) by Southern California Super Lawyers® for 2013 to 2016.

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New Forecast in California: An End to the Drought (For Now!) in Most Counties

On April 7th, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order that lifts the drought emergency in fifty-four of the fifty-eight California counties. After six years of a prolonged drought in California, Executive Order B-40-17 lifts the drought emergency in all California counties except Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne. While the drought is declared over for … Continue Reading

Tribes’ Federal Water Rights Include Groundwater—But How Much?

Co-authored by Wes Miliband and guest-blogger Hayley K. Siltanen The Ninth Circuit recently ruled that federal reserved water rights held by Indian tribes extend to groundwater underlying reservation lands. Determining the quantity of that groundwater, however, is reserved for another day. In Aqua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District, the Ninth … Continue Reading

Up the Creek Without a Paddle: District Court Holds that Biological Opinion Must Consider Climate Change Impacts

In a narrow win for plaintiff Wild Fish Conservancy (“Plaintiff”), the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington held that the biological opinion (“BiOp”) for the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery (“Hatchery”) was arbitrary and capricious because the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) failed to adequately consider the effects of climate change. This case … Continue Reading

California DWR Releases Final Groundwater Basin Boundary Modifications

On October 18, 2016, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) released its final modifications to California’s groundwater basin boundaries in response to the emergency regulations adopted by DWR last October.  The basin boundary changes were implemented under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to provide flexibility to local public agencies to bring their groundwater basins … Continue Reading

With SB 1262, SGMA Becomes Further Entrenched in California’s Water Supply Planning Laws

With Senate Bill 1262 (“SB 1262”), California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”) has become firmly rooted into the State’s water supply planning laws. Specifically, SB 1262 amends the Water Supply Assessment statute (commonly referred to as “SB 610”) and the Written Verification statute (commonly referred to as “SB 221”). Background – SB 610 & SB … Continue Reading

Three Things You Need to Know About California’s New Surface Water Diversion Reporting Requirements

On August 22, the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) held an informational meeting to answer questions and get the public up to speed on California’s new surface water diversion reporting requirements. As we previously reported, all surface water diverters will be required to report their diversions annually instead of every three years, as previously … Continue Reading

Does California Bear A Water “Windfall” From Deep-Aquifer Sources?

Stanford University released a study this week stating that California has three times more useable groundwater located in deep aquifers than previously estimated.  This might come as welcome news to a state that continues to suffer through a historic drought.  The researchers found that fresh groundwater was available at depths previously thought to be too … Continue Reading

New Regulations for California Groundwater Management

California has moved one step closer to implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”), California’s landmark groundwater legislation. On Wednesday, May 18, the California Water Commission adopted a set of regulations that will govern the creation of groundwater sustainability plans (“GSPs”) by local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (“GSAs”). The emergency regulations, developed by the Department of … Continue Reading

CA Lawmaker Floats a Legislative Fix to Siskiyou County Farm Bureau Case

Last summer, the Third District Court of Appeal issued a sweeping ruling in Siskiyou County Farm Bureau v. Department of Fish and Wildlife, which made any substantial diversions of water subject to the streambed alteration agreement provisions of the California Fish and Game Code (“CDFW”).  The court ruled that California Fish and Game Code section … Continue Reading

Aquifer Protection Act – Slowing the Flow from California Aquifers

Despite the wet start of 2016, many parts of California continue to face severe water shortages.  The state has grown ever more tapped with groundwater production wells as Californians seek to utilize aquifers to meet their water needs.  However, experts have warned that this modern-day “gold rush” for water from underground aquifers may carry serious … Continue Reading

Fish versus Farms: Proposed Federal Legislation Seeks a Balance for California Water Supplies

On Wednesday, February 10, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (Dem.-California) introduced a draft bill with the explicit purpose to “provide short-term water supplies to drought-stricken California and provide for long-term investments in drought resiliency throughout the Western United States.”  Entitled, “California Long-Term Provisions for Water Supply and Short-Term Provisions for Emergency Drought Relief Act” … Continue Reading

California Water Webinar Series on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)

Earlier this week, environmental consultant Susanne Heim of Panorama Environmental and Stoel Rives water lawyer Wes Miliband hosted the second part of the California Water Webinar series about the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). In this webinar, Susanne and Wes covered implications of the recently adopted emergency regulations to amend groundwater basin boundaries, as well … Continue Reading

DWR Put’s Money Where Its Mouth Is In Ag Water Efficiency Grant Program

California’s unique geography and climate have allowed the State to become one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California. In an average year California’s agricultural industry irrigates 9.6 million acres using roughly 34 million … Continue Reading

California Surface Water Diverters Now Required To Report Annually To The State

Taking effect earlier this month, Senate Bill 88 was approved overwhelmingly last legislative session and signed by the Governor as another effort to combat drought and water supply shortage conditions in the State of California. Senate Bill 88 – among other things – authorized the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) to adopt … Continue Reading

California Water Commission Adopts Regulations For Changing Groundwater Basin Boundaries

On October 21, 2015, the California Water Commission (“CWC”) adopted emergency regulations formulated by the Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) that establish a process by which local agencies may seek groundwater basin boundary modifications.  The proposed regulations are the first of their kind authorizing DWR to formally consider requests by local agencies to modify groundwater … Continue Reading

Update on California Water Legislation Regarding Groundwater, Recycled Water and More

October 11, 2015, marked the deadline by which Governor Brown had to act on legislation submitted to him by the legislature in September. In addition to those bills the Governor signed, we note below legislation that has been identified as two-year legislation. Stoel Rives’ Water Law Team has been monitoring water-related legislation, especially given California’s … Continue Reading

California Groundwater Update: Public Comments Due For Basin Boundary Regulations

As one of many implementation steps under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA” codified as Water Code §§ 10720 et seq.), basin boundary regulations were released recently by the California Department of Water Resources (“DWR”), with a public comment deadline set for Friday, September 4. DWR is holding public meetings this week to solicit public … Continue Reading

Legislation Revamping California Groundwater Adjudications Marches Forward

AB 1390 aims in unprecedented fashion to expedite procedures and processes for groundwater adjudications, which, in California, are known to take one or two decades before reaching a final judgment. The bill would add various provisions to the California Code of Civil Procedure that would be codified as Sections 830 through 849. AB 1390 was … Continue Reading

California DWR’s New Groundwater Basin Regulations for SGMA

With the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”) taking effect on January 1, 2015, the California Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) is in full swing of holding public workshops and information sessions to solicit input from stakeholders and other members of the public as well as to answer questions regarding SGMA’s various milestone requirements. On July … Continue Reading

To Curtail Or Not To Curtail…That Is the Question

On June 12, the State Water Board issued a notice of “unavailability of water” and the “need for immediate curtailment” from various water users holding pre-1914 water rights.  Less than two weeks later on June 23, lawyers for the State Water Board reportedly stated in court this curtailment notice is advisory only, which would seem to … Continue Reading

Fish & Game Code Section 1602 Is Unambiguous, Now Requiring More Water Users To Provide “1602 Notification” To “Substantially Divert” Water

On June 4, 2015, the Court of Appeal ruled that California Fish and Game Code section 1602 (“Section 1602”) unambiguously requires notification to the Department of Fish and Wildlife (“Department”) if an entity or individual plans to “substantially divert” water, even when the legal right to use the water was previously established. (Siskiyou County Farm … Continue Reading

New Clean Water Rule Unlikely To Significantly Change Regulatory Status Quo…At Least For Now

The wait for the new rule is now over!  The EPA and Corps of Engineers have jointly issued the rule defining which waters are protected by the federal Clean Water Act, with the new rule largely reflecting historical interpretations arising from SCOTUS decisions. Please click on this link for more in-depth information and analysis prepared by Michael Campbell from … Continue Reading
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