March 01, 2013

31st Annual Water Law Conference: One sure thing—water supply uncertainty

Kathy Robb

Where do you find water in the desert? Why, at the 31st Annual Water Law Conference, to take place from June 5–7, 2013 at the stunning Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas! The country’s premier gathering of water resource lawyers is being held this year in the Mojave Desert, where issues surrounding the availability, ownership, storage, allocation, conveyance, and use of water are inescapable.

This year’s conference theme is “Water for the Future: Coping with Scarcity.” The program will engage lawyers of all experience levels on the issues surrounding the response to water supply uncertainty. As the impact of unpredictable water supplies is a central concern for energy production, practical strategies for securing water for solar power, shale oil and gas extraction, and hydropower generation will be explored. We’ll also hear from federal, state, and local policy-makers on new initiatives for regulating streamflow by applying existing laws in new ways and by promulgating new rules. And as water dependent industries require new approaches to the management and disclosure of water-related risks, experts will discuss these emerging needs and the range of responses from business and investors.

Other panels will address the implications for water management of recent rulings and newer conflicts arising under the Endangered Species Act, client management in the negotiation of complex tribal water rights settlements, and the evolving role of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in water supply management—both East and West. Changes in international water law involving Canada and Mexico will be examined—changes that will affect just about every region in between. Additional offerings will include the popular Water Law 101 panel, focusing this year on the legal issues associated with analyzing and presenting complex mathematical modeling—a key ingredient of almost any dispute involving water availability, allocation, streamflow, or quality. The ethics session will focus on ethical issues commonly encountered by water law practitioners.

Three outstanding keynote speakers will join us for the 2013 conference: Patricia Mulroy, Robert Glennon, and John Cruden. Mulroy, general manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District and the Southern Nevada Water Authority, is one of the arid West’s most influential and innovative water management leaders and is internationally known. Glennon, professor at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, is the insightful author of the best-selling Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It. Cruden is the president of the Environmental Law Institute, and served as the U.S. Department of Justice Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division, from 1995–2011. Their provocative and practical ideas on our nation’s water future are sure to be a highlight of the program.

Conference attendees will have numerous opportunities for networking with colleagues. In addition to networking breaks throughout the one-and-a-half day program at Red Rock Resort, join us for a public service project in the nearby Red Rock Conservation Area on Wednesday before the official start of the conference. You are invited as well to register for a special hard hat, behind-the-scenes tour on Friday afternoon of Hoover Dam, one of the eight engineering wonders of the world.

The conference location—10 miles from the excitement and bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip—is at the gateway to the awe-inspiring Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area with its 19 trails, scenic loop drive and visitors’ center, and views of the canyon’s breathtaking crimson cliffs. Red Rock Canyon is just one of half a dozen of this nation’s most beautiful parks and recreation areas within five hours of Las Vegas, and McCarran International airport is the closest airport to these parks. From Red Rock, Hoover Dam is a mere 45-minute drive, and Valley of Fire State Park is an hour away. Further afield are the Zion National Recreation Area, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park. Proximity to these spectacular destinations—all created by water, featuring water, or remarkable for the absence of water—makes the 2013 Water Law Conference a great jumping off point for a summer vacation that involves fun and opportunities for learning about the challenges of water scarcity.

Plan now to join us for the 31st Water Law Conference in June for great information on water law and policy issues central to your practice, terrific networking opportunities, and a truly breathtaking desert setting. Check out the 2013 Water Law Conference web page for more information as it becomes available and convenient online registration. I look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas!

Kathy Robb

Kathy Robb is a partner with Hunton & Williams in New York City. She is the program chair for the 31st Annual Water Law Conference.