Russell McGlothlin is a Shareholder in Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck's Santa Barbara office and a member of the firm’s Natural Resources Department. Russell possesses extensive experience concerning water use and management in California and the western United States, including water right permitting and adjudication, water transfers, conjunctive water use, water quality, and reclamation. In addition to his water practice, he has significant experience concerning regulated utilities, energy, land use, real estate, local government, and environmental matters, including CEQA and ESA compliance. He represents private companies, municipalities, special districts, and individual landowners with transactional negotiations, litigation, and administrative agency proceedings.

This past year, Russell participated in a small group of lawyers and other policy specialists, convened by the Association of California Water Agencies, to develop historic legislation recently enacted to reform California groundwater law. He also frequently publishes and speaks on water law topics. Particularly notable publications include a recent journal article published in the Denver Water Law Review titled “No Fictions Required: Assessing the Public Trust Doctrine in Pursuit of Balanced Water Management,” and authorship of two chapters of the Groundwater Resources Association’s handbook, “California Groundwater Management.” He is also member of the Council of Legal Advisors to the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Representative Matters
  • Drafted joint powers agreement and oversaw the formation of a joint powers authority comprised of the six cities of the Monterey Peninsula. Presently represent the authority as special counsel before the California Public Utilities Commission with respect to a comprehensive replacement water supply project that includes a large desalination plant and potential advanced-treated reclaimed water and groundwater replenishment project. Further representation includes matters before the State Water Resources Control Board concerning compliance with a cease and desist order pertaining to the community's water supply and other related water matters.

  • Water rights counsel to association comprised of all agricultural groundwater producers from the Santa Paula Groundwater Basin in Ventura County. Representation has included development of original stipulated judgment adjudicating basin water rights, subsequent amendment of the adjudication judgment, and related matters pertaining to the use and management of basin resources under the judgment.

  • Water Rights counsel to publically-traded agricultural firm with properties located throughout the western United States. Representation includes counsel on perfection and protection of water rights, water markets, development matters, and related matters.

  • General counsel to large agricultural mutual water company in Ventura County. Representation includes water rights, infrastructure development, and corporate matters.

  • Obtained reversal in full of two separate, but related trial court decisions denying motions to amend judgments governing the West Coast and Central groundwater basins, which provide local water supplies to the millions of people living and working in the greater Los Angeles region. The motions seek to provide for the conjunctive use and management of the basins, including procedures for use of the basins' available storage space. (Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary v. Golden State Water Co. (2011) 199 Cal.App.4th 658 (review denied); Water Replenishment Dist. of Southern Cal. v. City of Cerritos (2012) 202 Cal.App.4th 1063 (review denied).)

  • Hearing before the State Water Resources Control Board concerning a draft Cease and Desist Order limiting diversions from the Carmel River.

  • Co-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. Litigation continues among a small minority of the remaining parties.

  • Water rights counsel for a national land developer/home builder with respect to the water supply components of a proposed 5,000 home residential and commercial development in southern California. The project raised numerous water supply and water quality issues, including groundwater storage, replenishment and development, water transfers, conjunctive use, water re-use, flood protection and stormwater management.

  • Land use due diligence for acquisition of a 780-acre ranch in the Santa Barbara foothills, and subsequent advice on land use and natural resource issues.

  • Represented the buyer in providing land use due diligence for the acquisition of a 550-acre ranch in the Santa Barbara County foothills.

News & Events

Partnership Council Member, Community Environmental Council

Liaison to the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, U.C.S.B.; Member of Bren's Council of Legal Advisors

Publications & Presentations
Brownstein Water Blog

Brownstein Water: Current Trends in Water Law & Policy
Visit for commentary and analysis of timely water law and policy issues. 

Nevada Governor Establishes Drought Forum

Posted on April 21, 2015 by Brownstein Water Group

On April 8, 2015, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval hosted a press conference at Washoe Lake State Park to unveil a plan to address current and future drought conditions across Nevada. Pointing out that he should have been standing in three feet of water at the time,… Continue Reading »


Are Groundwater Extraction Fees Property Related or Regulatory Fees? It Depends.

Posted on April 7, 2015 by Brownstein Water Group

Two new Proposition 218-related cases published in March come to opposite conclusions in determining whether groundwater extraction and replenishment fees are “property-related” fees subject to Article XIII D of the California Constitution (Proposition 218). … Continue Reading »


Three Months and Counting: Preparing for California’s New Industrial Storm Water Permit

Posted on April 2, 2015 by Brownstein Water Group

If you operate one of the over 100,000 industrial facilities subject to California’s new Industrial Storm Water Permit (2015 Permit), you are probably already aware that only three months remain to ensure your compliance before the permit takes effect.  If you are a senior executive, general counsel, facility manager or consultant,… Continue Reading »



  • J.D., 2000, with honors, University of Michigan Law School
  • B.A., 1994, with honors, University of Oregon
  • California, 2000

Who's Who in Professional Services, Pacific Coast Business Times, 2015

Who's Who in Clean Tech & Sustainability, Pacific Coast Business Times, 2015

Top 40 Under 40, Pacific Coast Business Times