Bella Sewall Wolitz has extensive experience working with federal agencies on interstate and tribal water resource issues and matters involving water law, federal Indian law, administrative law and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Bella brings expertise developed during 13 years with the Department of the Interior working in several roles. While there, she served as an attorney in the Solicitor’s Office advising the Bureau of Reclamation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Geological Survey. As the assistant legislative counsel in the Office of the Secretary, she prepared officials for congressional hearings, drafted legislative proposals and worked with the White House, Congress and other federal agencies to accomplish the Secretary of the Interior’s legislative agenda.
Bella acted as lead agency counsel in several cases that involved conflict regarding transboundary water resources, including Penobscot Nation v. Mills involving tribal fishing rights and reservation boundaries in Maine and Texas v. New Mexico, an original action in the Supreme Court involving interstate water conflict and a Bureau of Reclamation project. Additionally, she negotiated the final statutory language for several legislative settlements regarding Indian water rights, and worked with the Environmental Protection Agency on their Treatment as State program for Tribes. In recognition of her proficiency while serving in the federal government, Bella received the Solicitor’s Excellence Individual Award, the Secretary’s Indian Water Rights Office Star Award, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Gold Medal for Exceptional Service and Department of Justice’s Certificate of Commendation.
She has taught as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Tennessee College of Law and has given multiple trainings and lectures on topics in federal Indian law and water law.