McGlothlin, Russell M.

Russell McGlothlin is a water resources attorney. He possesses extensive expertise concerning water use and management in California and the western United States, including water right adjudication and permitting, compliance with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, water transfers, conjunctive water use, water quality, and reclamation. He represents private companies, significant agricultural holdings, municipalities, special districts, and individual landowners with transactional negotiations, litigation, and administrative agency proceedings.

Russell has particular expertise concerning the management of California groundwater. He was highly involved in the development of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and laws to reform the judicial procedure for adjudicating groundwater basins. He represents clients throughout California in the implementation of these new groundwater laws. He also has broad experience in adjudicated groundwater basins across the state including the Central, Goleta, Mojave, Santa Maria, Seaside, Santa Paula and West Coast Basins.

Russell frequently publishes and speaks on water law topics.  His writings include several law journal articles and two chapters of California Groundwater Management published by the Groundwater Resources Association. He is also a member of the Council of Legal Advisors to the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California at Santa Barbara where he guest lectures regularly.

Representative Matters
  • Counsel to a group of local agencies in Ventura County to draft and negotiate a joint powers agreement to form a Groundwater Sustainability Agency pursuant to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

  • Counsel to one of California’s largest agricultural growers advising on the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

  • Counsel to a broad group of agricultural stakeholders in the Salinas Valley providing assistance with the development of a Groundwater Sustainability Agency that includes significant participation by the agricultural groundwater users within the valley.

  • 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 publicly-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).)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Water rights and land use due diligence for acquisition of a 1,800-acre ranch in Santa Barbara County, and subsequent advice on water right issues.

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.

  • 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, 2018

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