Steven O. Sims

Steven O. Sims



Understands complexities of water litigation, acquisitions and transactions. In 40-plus year career has led 750 water litigations and over 20 Supreme Court appeals. Former senior water counsel and first assistant attorney general for the Water Unit of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.

Steve Sims is a leading western water law attorney with a focus on water court litigation, water acquisition strategy and water transactions in the west. He brings four decades of experience representing municipal utilities, industrial and mining projects, oil and gas developments and real estate developments in water adjudications and permitting. He represents clients in the Colorado Water Courts as well as before the State Engineer and Groundwater Commission and the Boards of County Commissioners concerning 1041 permitting. 

Steve’s track record of successfully negotiating, documenting and closing complex water rights transactions make him a respected authority in the industry. From the acquisition of water rights for new real estate developments to obtaining water rights for fracking in oil and gas developments, he ensures his clients have access to the resource most integral to their project. 

Steve used his deep knowledge of water law on some of the region’s most significant projects including the City of Aurora’s $700 million Prairie Waters Project, and working on behalf of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission to transfer water rights on the Pecos River. Working throughout the western United States, he is the water lawyer clients seek when dealing with legally and technically complex and politically controversial projects. 

Representative Matters

Recent Experience

  • Counsel to Serratoga Falls, LLC, which is owned by a local private equity company, and an individual executive in defense of seventeen claims brought in the Division One Water Court in Greeley, Colorado, which sought over $750,000 in damages, disgorgement of profits, and injunctions preventing water use and property development in a 500-home subdivision in Larimer County. Our team defended against Plaintiffs’ claims brought and filed a counterclaim to obtain court permission to underground an open ditch running through the property. After a seven-day bench trial, the Court dismissed all of Plaintiffs’ seventeen claims, approved the proposed underground pipeline, and awarded attorneys’ fees and costs jointly and severally against Plaintiffs and their attorney.

Insights & Publications



  • J.D., 1979, University of Puget Sound School of Law
  • B.A., 1975, University of Colorado


  • Colorado
  • New Mexico
  • U.S. District Court, District of Colorado
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, District of New Mexico


Colorado Water Congress State Affairs

Executive Council, Colorado Bar Association, Water Law Section

Community Involvement


Boulder County Board of Adjustment, 1988-1990

Boulder County Long Range Planning Committee, 1990-1991

Boulder County Planning Committee, 1991-1998

City of Greeley Water and Sewer Board, 2004-2005

Football Stadium Site Advisory Committee, 1998



5280 Top Lawyers, 2015-2024

Chambers USA, 2011-2014

Appointed by Governor Ritter to Colorado Water and Power Authority Board of Directors

Best Lawyers in America, 2010-2024

Colorado Super Lawyers

Law Week Colorado, Barrister’s Best, 2023