Herrema, Bradley J.
Bradley J. Herrema Bradley J. Herrema

Bradley J. Herrema

Los Angeles, California
Reno, Nevada
Santa Barbara, California

For more than a decade, Brad Herrema has been involved in many of the nation's largest and most significant and complex water matters, predominantly in the Western United States. His forte and long-term focus include strategic water supply planning, water right permitting and regulatory compliance, litigation including water right adjudications, transactional negotiations and due diligence, and water quality, environmental, and species concerns, spanning every aspect of California and national water law. A strategic business partner to his clients, Brad serves as special water counsel to private corporations, cities and special districts, investor-owned utilities and large landowners.

Brad has extensive experience in groundwater matters, including development of new groundwater supplies in adjudicated and non-adjudicated basins, local groundwater management, groundwater storage and complex groundwater litigation. He is actively engaged in implementation of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, including representation of groundwater sustainability agencies, development of groundwater sustainability plans, and protection of water users’ water rights and reliable access to groundwater supplies. 

Brad serves as counsel to the Chino Basin Watermaster, an arm of the San Bernardino Superior Court, which oversees the implementation of a 1978 groundwater rights adjudication in the Southern California Inland Empire, central to the sustenance of the region’s $2B economy.  He has represented landowners and water purveyors in groundwater right adjudications and advises hospitality clients on water supply matters.

Brad is a regular writer and speaker on water issues.  For the last six years, he has held a statewide leadership role in the field of groundwater resources as director of the Groundwater Resources Association of California.  

Practices & Industries
Sustainable Groundwater Management

Groundwater management in California is entering a brave new world of compliance with 2014’s historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Brad works extensively with clients in navigating these uncharted waters. In doing so, he draws upon his experience in numerous groundwater adjudication and litigation matters including in the Chino Basin and the Antelope Valley Basin. He serves as counsel to the Chino Basin Watermaster and the South Tahoe Public Utility District in the development of Sustainable Groundwater Management Plans, Plan Alternatives and AB3030 Groundwater Management Plans.

Hospitality Water Supply

Where there are golf courses and ski resorts, there is a need for a sustainable water supply. Brad understands the legal matters surrounding this niche area of the resort industry well. He regularly advises resort clients as to water supplies associated with potential acquisitions and in navigating water right and water rate disputes. He has served as counsel for a golf course in a water rate proceeding before the Arizona Corporations Commission and negotiated the purchase of an 18-hole golf course, clubhouse in Nevada, among other transactions.

Water Quality

Brad often assists clients with issues that arise under the federal Clean Water Act and California Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act. He has represented clients in the building and other industries before local, state and federal regulatory and permitting agencies. On behalf of California building industry association, he successfully obtained invalidation of Numeric Effluent Limits in State Water Resources Control Board NPDES Construction General Permit for stormwater discharges. 

Representative Matters
  • Served as Nevada water rights counsel to Quantum Utility Generation, LLC in connection with its purchase of general partnerships that together own an approximately 85 megawatt cogeneration facility located in Clark County, Nevada.

  • On behalf of California building industry association, obtained invalidation of Numeric Effluent Limits in State Water Resources Control Board NPDES Construction General Permit for stormwater discharges. The Sacramento Superior Court invalidated NELs for turbidity and pH based on the Board's failure to support the NELs with sufficient evidence establishing that the NELs could be achieved, and its failure to undertake the necessary control technology analysis under the Clean Water Act for a NPDES permit.

  • Negotiated and consummated the purchase of an 18-hole golf course, club house, and related facilities located in Henderson, Nevada. Brownstein also advised the client on various real estate, litigation, corporate water rights and business licensing matters.

  • In two separate cases approved changes to Carson River water rights, pursuant to United States v. Alpine Land & Reservoir Company. Both cases included approvals to points of diversion, manner of use and place of use for decreed water rights.

  • Representation of golf course in water rate proceeding before the Arizona Corporations Commission. Presentation of evidence and testimony regarding impacts of proposed increases in rates for course's irrigation water supplies.

  • Litigation challenging State Board issued NPDES general permit for stormwater discharges associated with construction activities as violating the federal Clean Water Act and California's Porter-Cologne Act.

  • Served as Nevada water rights counsel for a Nevada Indian tribe in the development of a 200 MW concentrated solar project in southern Nevada.

  • Lead Counsel, Antelope Valley Groundwater Adjudication, Los Angeles Superior Court, Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding 4408 representing long-time water user landowners. 2002 to 2016.

  • Represented a town with substantial groundwater rights in Nevada's Carson River Valley with regard to water rights litigation commenced by the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of Indians. Litigation included challenges to State Engineer rulings on water right change applications for new development. Cases were filed in both federal district and state district courts and involved issues of jurisdiction and venue in addition to substantive water law. Appeals were filed by the Tribe in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Nevada Supreme Court.

  • Trial counsel for one of California’s largest shareholder-owned public water suppliers in complex litigation to adjudicate and control the water resources in the Santa Maria groundwater basin. The case involved more than 1,000 parties who rely on local water resources and two federally-owned reservoirs. After eight years of litigation, the case was resolved through a settlement stipulation among the vast majority of the parties, thereby providing legal certainty with respect to the use and management of the resource.

  • Brownstein successfully negotiated a complex, multi-agency settlement of a water rights complaint alleging violations of the public trust and California Fish and Game Code section 5937, on behalf of one of California's largest wholesale water providers. The settlement provides a perpetual, multimillion dollar program for the re-operation of numerous dams and associated water supply facilities on three watersheds, including flow enhancements, barrier removals and habitat restoration. Brownstein continues to provide legal support associated with obtaining all regulatory approvals of the settlement and its implementation.

  • Negotiated an agreement for the joint use of the Upper American River Project ("UARP") for the benefit of El Dorado County, an area of origin community at the headwaters of the American River. The agreement provided access to the UARP and the right to divert and store up to 40,000 acre-feet of water annually.

  • Prosecute water right applications with the State Water Resources Control Board for supplemental water to meet general plan needs.

News & Events

Celiac Disease Foundation, Director

Sansum Diabetes Research Institute, Trustee (2008-2015)

Publications & Presentations
  • J.D., 2003, University of Michigan Law School
  • B.A., 2000, cum laude, Hope College
  • 1999, Institute for the International Education of Students, Salamanca, Spain
  • California
  • Nevada
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Hope College Miles Award in Law, 2000

Top 40 Under 40, Pacific Coast Business Times

Young Water Professionals Award, Waste & Wastes Digest, 2017


Groundwater Resources Association of California, Director