Robert J. Saperstein

Robert J. Saperstein



Pragmatic water litigator and skilled negotiator. Nearly 30 years of water law experience. Plays a leading role in California’s most important water rights cases.

Rob Saperstein is widely respected for his ability to optimize his client’s rights in groundwater, surface water and recycled water development and management. Public entity water suppliers and large landowners rely on his legal counsel to protect and maximize their water resources. Working in both transactional and litigation settings, Rob is known for an approach that provides creative and pragmatic solutions built upon storied experience. 

Throughout Rob’s nearly three decades of legal practice, he’s played a critical role in litigation to protect water rights resulting in groundbreaking appellate decisions that have shaped California water law. Rob is frequently sought out for strategic and legal guidance on matters pending before local agencies, the California State Water Resources Control Board, various regional water quality control boards, the California Public Utilities Commission and state and federal courts. He’s worked extensively with clients on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act since its implementation.

Rob’s military background shapes his noteworthy leadership skills. He was a member of Brownstein’s Executive Committee, co-chair of the Natural Resources Department, and served as California offices managing partner. Prior to its merger with Brownstein, Rob served as the managing partner of Hatch & Parent.  

Representative Matters

Recent Experience

  • Protected Bottling Plant from interference by City Council resulting from pressure by non-profit groups adverse to bottled water industry.

  • 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.

  • Defended CEQA challenge to the City’s renewal of its long-term Central Valley Project water supply contract in trial and appellate courts.

  • Defended CEQA challenge to Spring Water agreement in trial and appellate courts. Provided NEPA, CEQA and land use compliance advice for project development including construction of bottling facility and construction of pipelines in federal forest land.

  • Successfully settled reimbursement claim by water company against four major oil companies with no direct evidence of whose MTBE impacted the well.

Insights & Publications



  • J.D., 1993, University of Washington School of Law, with highest honors, Order of the Coif
  • B.A., 1980, University of California at San Diego


  • California, 1993
  • Arizona, 2005
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of California


Association of California Water Agencies

Association of Water Agencies, Ventura County, Water Issues Committee

Santa Barbara County Bar Association

Water Reuse Association

Groundwater Resources Association of California

Community Involvement


Nature Conservancy, pro bono legal work

Board Member, Santa Barbara Air Pollution Control District Hearing Board

Board of Directors, Channel Islands YMCA

Board of Directors, Youth & Family Services Branch, Channel Islands YMCA



Best Lawyers in America, 2010-2024

AV Preeminent Rated: Martindale Hubbell

Member of the Year, Association of Water Agencies of Ventura County, 2003

Who's Who in Professional Services