One of California’s Largest Water Projects, Completed in Seven Short Years
It was a water project originally proposed in the early 1960s, but delayed for decades because — among other interests — certain communities feared that with more water came rampant population growth. However, the 1989-92 drought increased pressure to finally bring water to California’s Central Coast via a pipeline to allow State Water Project water to be transported to drought-vulnerable Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties as a supplemental water supply.
It was the largest California water project in 50 years — a $600 million task requiring a 144-mile buried water transmission line, a water treatment plant, plus pumping plants and related facilities. A project complicated by the fact that any one of the numerous local, regional, state or federal entities affected could stall the project. This is when the lawyers at Hatch & Parent (which later became the California offices of Brownstein) were engaged to try and expedite the process. The firm was known for its unprecedented work in public agency and water law.
Brownstein shareholders Steve Amerikaner, Susan Petrovich, and Gary Kvistad joined Stanley Hatch in a “no huddle offense” approach to move the project along with such speed and focus, no single project opponent could effectively derail or delay it. Each played central legal and management roles in resolving any issues among the nearly 2-dozen government entities, addressing their concerns while assuring the project always moved forward.
The project opened in 1997 — completed on schedule in just seven years — and on budget.
Mr. Hatch (now retired) was the lead urban negotiator in a process that resulted in the "Monterey Amendments" to the State Water Contract, which, in turn, resulted in a potential reduction in future State Water Project costs to California’s urban water users of over $1.5 billion.
In addition, the firm created the Central Coast Water Authority (CCWA); the local agency formed to finance, construct, and operate State water treatment and delivery facilities on behalf of Santa Barbara County project participants. The attorneys also coordinated on project design and siting to avoid and mitigate environmental impacts, supervised consultants writing Environmental Impact Reports, and negotiated with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish & Game on all agreements necessary to construct, operate, repair and maintain Project facilities.
Today, as then, water issues rarely arise in isolation. Brownstein attorneys regularly work with other practice groups within the firm to create an unparalleled depth of experience for the benefit of clients in the midst of increasing demands on limited water resources throughout the West.
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