March 01, 2015

2015 Water Law Conference in Denver: Local, regional, and national issues

Robin Kundis Craig

On June 4–5, 2015, the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources will be holding its 33rd Annual Water Law Conference at the Four Seasons Hotel in Denver. For those with fond memories of past Water Law Conferences in San Diego, this conference continues the Section’s strong tradition of focusing on cutting-edge water law issues with panels that tap into local and regional expertise as well as addressing topics of national significance. Moreover, the conference planners have selected topics and speakers to appeal to a broad range of water law practitioners:


  • from seasoned water lawyers to law students and lawyers recently admitted to practice;
  • from lawyers whose practices focus almost exclusively on state water allocations to lawyers who deal with water issues in larger legal contexts; and
  • for lawyers in all types of practice settings, from government to NGOs to private practice in firms of all sizes.

New trends and developments

This year’s conference takes a special look at new developments in water use, with panels examining developing practices in water allocation and reallocation, emerging issues, the intersection of water use and water quality, and national policy issues. Practitioners engaged in cutting-edge water law issues will enjoy panels comparing emerging approaches to particular problems across states and panels focusing on the water issues facing particular sectors. Experts from Texas, California, and Colorado will discuss current issues regarding—and contemporary approaches to—water marketing in their respective states. Another panel will compare new and evolving approaches to groundwater management in Florida, California, and Colorado. Sector-focused discussions will cover cooling water withdrawals and other special water issues stemming from fossil-fuel extraction and combustion, and a wide range of contemporary water issues facing agriculture.

Federal water policy

This year’s Water Law Conference includes a session on recent Clean Water Act developments and a session provocatively asking whether it is time for a federal water policy. These sessions will examine federal law and policy’s intersection with state water law.

Ethics session on lobbying

The conference’s ethics session will look at the potential professional pitfalls for “Lawyers Who Lobby” regarding water issues.

Keynote speakers

Conference attendees will also enjoy personal insights regarding contemporary water issues from the conference’s two keynote speakers—Jim Lochhead, CEO and manager of Denver Water, and Justice Gregory J. Hobbs of the Colorado Supreme Court.

Public service project

On Friday afternoon, we invite attendees to participate in the conference’s public service project along the South Platte River in Denver. The project gives attendees the opportunity to interact with local schoolchildren regarding their work on river monitoring and to participate in a riverbank clean-up and/or improvement.

Warm-up webinars

New this year, the Water Law Conference planners are producing a series of three “warm-up” webinars in anticipation of the conference itself. To sweeten the deal, people who register for any of these webinars will be entitled to a $95 discount off the registration fee for the Water Law Conference.

Water Reuse. In February, we offered a webinar on “Reusing Wastewater.”

Basics of Water Law. In April, we will present “Water Law 101,” a basic introduction to and overview of the state-law doctrines that govern the allocation of surface water and groundwater in the United States. This webinar should be particularly useful for practitioners who are new to water law and who want a basic overview of the subject before heading off to the June conference.

Water Supply. Finally, in early May 2015, we return to contemporary issues in water supply with a webinar examining the various issues (including cost) surrounding states’ and municipalities’ increasing use of desalination in places like Texas, Florida, Arizona, and California.

We hope that you will join us for these webinars and for the Water Law Conference itself. See you in June in Denver!

Robin Kundis Craig

Robin Kundis Craig is the chair of the 33rd Annual Water Law Conference of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources. She is the William H. Leary Professor of Law at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law.