Executive Committee
Scott S. Slater

Scott S. Slater



Legendary water lawyer with unmatched depth in water transactions and supply. Shifting the paradigm for agricultural interests facing water stress. Handled the largest water transfer in United States’ history. 

Scott Slater is a best-in-class water rights transactional attorney and litigator delivering strategic solutions and securing reliable water supplies for his clients. His sophisticated understanding of both the legal challenges and potential business impacts and opportunities in securing, maintaining and transferring water resources draws from his decades of experience. Handling some of the nation’s most complex and cutting-edge water deals, Scott is respected for his inability to maintain the status quo. Scott is a creative problem solver who thrives in complicated matters requiring innovative solutions. Whether helping guide private companies to serve as public stewards of their water resources or representing public agencies serving the resource needs of their constituents, Scott’s ingenuity often shifts the paradigm from win-lose to non-zero sum outcomes.

While maintaining his shareholder position at Brownstein, Scott also serves as CEO and President for Cadiz Inc., a publicly traded sustainable land, water and agricultural resources company with projects including the Cadiz Water Project and a vertically integrated commercial hemp operation. 

Scott’s famed understanding of water law, especially in water scarce areas, has led him to play an integral role in shaping both national and international water code. He is the author of the treatise—California Water Law and Policy—frequently cited by judges and attorneys. Scott previously taught and advised government on reforming water policy in Western Australia, the Peoples Republic of China and is currently advising the nation of Tunisia.

Representative Matters

Recent Experience

  • Special water counsel for private equity firm One Rock Capital in connection with the completion of due diligence in support of the agreements to acquire Nestle Waters North America, the world’s largest bottled water company for over $4 billion. Brownstein water counsel led due diligence efforts on water assets, water rights, water supplies and offered industry and supply risk assessments for Nestlé Waters North America’s U.S. business, including regional spring water brands, production facilities and infrastructure related to the water business.

  • Negotiator of groundwater adjudication amendments to establish groundwater storage procedures in the Central and West Coast Basins to provide local water supplies to the millions of people living and working in the greater Los Angeles region. These amendments were sustained in (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).)

  • Represented two private equity firms in successful bid for and acquisition of SouthWest Water Company (SWWC), a publicly-traded, investor-owned water utility with operations in several states in the western and southeastern United States. Brownstein attorneys provided strategic advice, performed due diligence, assisted with the merger and acquisition, and acquired regulatory approvals for the transaction from state public utility commissions. This is the first successful public-to-private conversion of a water company in the past decade, and SWWC was one of only 13 publicly-traded companies in the United States. The transaction matter was nominated for Water Deal of the Year at the Global Water Awards held in Berlin as part of the 2011 Global Water Summit.

  • 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.

  • Representing Golden State Water Company for development of a new water utility service area in Sutter County, California, including water resource and infrastructure planning, negotiation of water supply agreements, and acquisition of certificate of public convenience and necessity from the California Public Utilities Commission.

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

  • 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.

  • As general counsel to the Chino Basin Watermaster, facilitated, negotiated and drafted agreements among parties to the judgment to implement the Optimum Basin Management Program. Represented the parties and watermaster before the court in securing approval of basin management strategy to secure hydraulic control through a coordinated groundwater extraction plan and desalting.

  • On behalf of San Diego County Water Authority, negotiated a series of complex agreements between state and federal agencies for the settlement of disputes related to California allocation of Colorado River water, including the largest water transfer in United States history, lining of the All-American Canal and water conveyance.

Insights & Publications



  • J.D., 1984, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, with distinction, Order of the Coif
  • B.A., 1980, University of Redlands, with distinction


  • California, 1984
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit


Chairman of the Board, Executive Committee, Limoneira Company, 2022 – Present

Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Limoneira Company, 2012 – 2022

Board of Directors, Cadiz Inc., 2011 - Present, President and CEO, 2013 - Present

Board of Advisors, Private Equity Investment in Global Water Industry, Water Asset Management, 2007-2017

Former Board Member and Chair, American Ground Water Trust, 2000-2009

Chair, Natural Resources Subsection of the Real Property Law Section, State Bar of California, 2001-2004

Board Member, Chair Legislative Committee, California Groundwater Resources Association, 1999-2003

Community Involvement


President and Board Member, Santa Barbara Youth Ensemble Theatre, Inc.



"A long-time leader in the water space." – Chambers USA, 2023

"Scott Slater is a brilliant strategist with experience and intelligence." "He is an exceptional water lawyer." – Chambers USA, 2022

The American Lawyer, West Trailblazers, 2022

Best Lawyers in America, 2010-2024

  • Los Angeles Water Law Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers in America, 2014

Chambers USA, 2012-2023

Who's Who in Professional Services, Pacific Coast Business Times, 2014-2017

Martindale Hubble Av – Preeminent ranking, 1997-2017

Top 100 Lawyers in California, Los Angeles Daily Journal, 2014