Fife, Michael T.
Michael T. Fife Michael T. Fife_HighRes

Michael T. Fife

Santa Barbara, California
Los Angeles, California

Michael Fife's practice concentrates on water resources use and management. Michael has been involved with the water industry for over 20 years and in this time has gained extensive experience in the negotiation and litigation of all types of water supply issues. He routinely handles matters ranging from simple contractual negotiations between two individuals, to litigation of complex basin adjudications involving thousands of parties.

Michael's transactional experience includes the development and acquisition of water supplies, water rights due diligence and transfers, and infrastructure development and use. His litigation experience includes matters in superior court, appellate court, and in front of state administrative agencies. Michael works with all sectors of the water use community including municipal water supply entities, private water users, agricultural interests, and the development industry.

Representative Matters
  • Special Counsel, City of Rialto. Represent Rialto regarding a wastewater change petition before the State Water Resources Control Board for the purpose of implementing Rialto’s recycled water master plan. 2013 to present.

  • Special Water Counsel, Arrowhead Lake Association, 2004 to present.

  • Special Counsel, Agricultural Company of America. Assist private agricultural holding company with due diligence regarding water rights for property acquisitions in multiple Western jurisdictions. 2014 to present.

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

  • Special Counsel, Rancho California Water District. Represent RCWD in negotiations regarding formation of a joint powers agency to own and operate a regional wastewater treatment plant. 2013 to 2016.

  • Counsel, Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority v. Orange County Sanitation District, JAMS Reference No. 1210030062 (2013) representing SAWPA.

  • Special Water Counsel, City of Indio. Assisted City of Indio in disputes and litigation regarding water use and management of the Coachella Groundwater Basin. 2008 to 2014.

  • General Counsel, Chino Basin Watermaster, under the case Chino Basin Municipal Water District v. City of Chino, San Bernardino Superior Court Case No. RCV 51010. 2000 to 2012.

  • Lead Counsel, Santa Ana Water Rights Hearing, State Water Resources Control Board (November-December 2007) representing the Chino Basin Watermaster.

  • Successfully represented the City of Seaside in the Seaside Groundwater Basin adjudication, including negotiation of settlement of overlying water right claims and litigation of basin management plan.

  • Lead Counsel, Lake Arrowhead Enforcement Hearing, State Water Resources Control Board (November 2005) representing the Arrowhead Lake Association.

  • Santa Maria Groundwater Basin Adjudication Phase III Trial Team Member, Santa Clara County Superior Court (October 2004).

News & Events
Publications & Presentations
  • J.D., 1996, University of Colorado Law School
  • M.A., 1993, University of California at San Diego
  • B.A., 1990, University of California at Berkeley
  • California, 1999
  • Oregon, 1997
  • Idaho, 2013