Eric N. Robinson, Shareholder

Eric, a shareholder and manager of the firm’s natural resources practice group, represents public and private sector clients in the fields of natural resources and environmental law. He provides counsel on obtaining and defending water rights and water supplies, obtaining environmental compliance approvals for development projects under local, state, and federal laws, and litigates in state and federal courts.

Legal Experience

Eric represents water supply agencies, private landowners, counties, cities, and not for-profit organizations in a range of areas, including:

  • Counsel to obtain and protect rights to use surface water and groundwater
  • Complete due diligence assessments of water rights for real property acquisitions or other investment opportunities
  • Counsel concerning assessment and verification of water supplies for new real estate development projects under SB 610/221
  • Counsel to prepare and defend Urban Water Management Plans, updates and amendments that carry out new water conservation mandates imposed by SB 7
  • Compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
  • Compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
  • Compliance with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)
  • Compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
  • Compliance with the Clean Water Act (CWA)
  • Compliance with Fish and Game Code provisions governing water supply facilities, including Streambed Alteration Agreement program and sections 5901 and 5937
  • Litigation defending and bringing CEQA, NEPA, ESA, and Fish and Game Code compliance challenges
  • Litigation defending groundwater pumping rights
  • Representation before State Water Resources Control Board, Department of Fish and Game, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other local, state and federal regulatory agencies

Practice Examples

  • Eric recently assessed Colorado River water rights to support due diligence review for proposed real property acquisition.
  • Eric served as special water counsel in connection with SB 610 and CEQA review for the successful approval of a 16,000-unit master planned community in the San Joaquin Valley.
  • Eric represented a private landowner in a trial adjudicating rights to groundwater in a California coastal basin and is participating in watermaster proceedings to manage that basin.
  • Eric advises public water supply agency clients in assessing the sufficiency of their water supplies to sustain new development projects pursuant to SB 610/221.
  • Eric is assisting a range of real estate development projects in securing and demonstrating long-term water supplies pursuant to SB 610, CEQA and SB 221.
  • Eric defended a Clean Water Act citizen suit alleging violation of an industrial storm water permit.
  • Eric challenged a municipal separate storm sewer discharge permit for exceeding state regulatory authority.
  • Eric defended a NPDES permit for a municipal wastewater discharger through Regional Board, State Water Resources Control Board and Superior Court review proceedings.
  • Eric successfully defended a city in trial court and appellate CEQA litigation challenging approval of a regional shopping mall.
  • Eric defended a California water supply agency against a $200 million inverse condemnation lawsuit arising from the reoperation of water supply reservoirs to prevent seawater intrusion from destroying a regional groundwater supply.
  • Eric represented the State Water Project (SWP) contractors against litigation challenging the CALFED program to restore the Bay-Delta estuary and statewide water supplies.
  • Eric is representing SWP contractors on CEQA compliance issues arising from litigation against the Monterey Amendments to SWP water service contracts.
  • Eric represented Central Valley Project (CVP) water contractors in federal litigation challenging the United States Department of the Interior’s compliance with NEPA, the ESA and Reclamation Law for actions changing the operation of the CVP’s Trinity River Division.
  • Eric is defending private landowners against a lawsuit challenging their diversion and use of water under Fish and Game Codes sections 5901 and 5937.
  • Eric successfully resolved an Endangered Species Act enforcement action and negotiated the terms of local, state and federal approvals for a steelhead habitat enhancement project on a California steelhead stream.

Professional Activities & Affiliations

Eric speaks frequently on water related issues for a variety of educational and professional organizations. Some of his past presentations include:

  • Speaker, “Water Transfers: Challenges and Opportunities,” 2016 Fall Conference, Association of California Water Agencies, December 2016
  • Speaker, “Schools & Stormwater 101,” San Gabriel Valley Civic Alliance, October 2016
  • Speaker, “Surface Flows, Sustainable Yield, Water Rights and SGMA,” 2016 Groundwater Conference and 25th Annual Meeting, The Groundwater Resources Association of California (GRA), September 2016
  • Speaker, “Show Me The Water: Water Rights Allocation,” Sustainable Groundwater in California conference, Law Seminars International (LSI), June 2016
  • Speaker, “Endangered Species, California’s Water Policy, and California’s Water Reality,” Endangered Species in California (ESA & CESA) Conference, Law Seminars International (LSI), June 2016
  • Speaker, “Show Me The Water: Balancing Water Supply and Growth in Good Times and Bad,” Municipal Law Institute Symposium, League of California Cities, California State Association of Counties, California Bar Association Public Law Section, February 2016
  • Speaker, “Show Me The Water: Water Supply Impact Analysis in an Era of Drought and Supply Uncertainty,” CLE International CEQA Conference, December 2015
  • Speaker, Sustainable Groundwater Management Act for Cities: How to Respond,” League of California Cities, October 2015
  • Speaker, “Groundwater Law 101,” Groundwater Regulation and Management in California Conference, Law Seminars International, March 2015
  • Speaker, “Groundwater Adjudications,” Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Panel Forum and Workshop, Farm Bureau Monterey & Salinas Valley Water Coalition, January 2015
  • Speaker, “Show Me the Water! Demonstrating Water Supplies for New Development in a Drought Era,” American Planning Association, California Chapter, September 2014
  • Speaker, “Show Me the Water!,” Association of Environmental Professionals, Orange County Chapter, March 2014
  • Speaker, “Wastewater Discharges in the Bay-Delta: A New Front in California’s Water Wars?, State Bar Environmental Law Section Yosemite Conference, Oct. 2013
  • Speaker, “Show Me the Water! SB 610, CEQA & SB 221 Compliance Strategies for Development Projects & Urban Planning,” Association of Environmental Professionals, June 2013
  • Speaker, “Sewage Discharge, the Pelagic Organism Decline and Human Health: A New Front Line in the Battle for Statewide Water Supply Reliability” Association of California Water Agencies, December 2012
  • Speaker, “Wastewater Discharges, Delta Ecology and Human Health,” CLE International, California Water Law, May 2012
  • Moderator, “Water Marketing: Opportunities for Self Help to Supplement Regional and Local Supplies,” Association of California Water Agencies, September 2011
  • Moderator, “Managing California’s Water: From Conflict to Reconciliation,” State Bar Real Property Section, April 2011
  • Speaker, “Water Rights Transfers – Creative Solutions,” Water Education Foundation 28th Annual Executive Briefing, March 2011
  • Moderator, “Environmental Plaintiffs Pursue Statewide Groundwater Regulations Under Public Trust Doctrine,” State Bar Real Property Section, March 2011
  • Speaker, “California Water Laws and Regulations: Current Issues with Urban Water Management Plans,” HalfMoon Seminars, February 2011
  • Speaker, “California’s Water Supply & Land-use Planning Laws: Making Water Supply Real,” 2011 California Water Law Symposium, January 2011
  • Speaker, “Sonoma Co. Water Coalition v. Sonoma Co. Water Agency: Implications for Urban Water Management Planning,” Telebriefing-Law Seminars International, November 2010
  • Speaker, “Avoid the Pitfalls: Navigating Through Urban Water Management Planning,” re: “The Linkage Between Urban Water Management Plan Defensibility and SB 610 Water Supply Assessment Review,” ACWA Region 8, October 2010
  • Speaker, “Wines Vines and Property Lines,” re: “The Growing Impact of Water Availability on Property Development–Building Water Supply Sustainability into Development Projects, Kronick–San Luis Obispo, October 2010
  • Speaker, “Water and Land Use in California after Save Tara,” CLE International Land-use Conference, September 2010
  • Moderator and speaker, “Preparing Legally Defensible Urban Water Management Plans That Implement SB 7’s Statewide Conservation Mandate,” Association of California Water Agencies (“ACWA”), May 2010
  • Moderator and speaker, “Preparing A Legally Defensible Urban Water Management Plan Update In An Era Of Water Supply Uncertainty,” Association of California Water Agencies (“ACWA”), December 2009
  • Moderator, “Show Me the Water! Tools to Help Water Agencies, Land-use Agencies and Development Projects Navigate California’s Deepening Regulatory Drought,” ACWA, May 2009
  • Speaker, “Show Me the Water! Tools to Help Cities Navigate California’s Deepening Regulatory Drought,” League of California Cities Annual Conference, Sept. 2008
  • Speaker, “Ten Years of Water Supply and Land Use Litigation: What Have We Learned?,” ACWA, May 2008
  • Speaker, “Show Me the Water! How the Regulatory Drought & California’s Water & Planning Laws Demand New Partnerships Among Land Developers, Water Agencies & Land-use Agencies,” State Bar Real Property Section 27th Annual Retreat, May 2008
  • Speaker with State Senator Joe Simitian, “Water Management in a Changing Climate,” San Mateo County 39th Annual Progress Seminar, April 2008
  • Speaker, “The Takings Clause and Government Liability for Regulatory Reallocation of Water Supplies,” CLE International, April 2007 (San Francisco)
  • Moderator and speaker, Water for Development: Demonstrating Long-term Water Supplies for Real Estate Development Projects, Lorman Education Services, Oct. 2005
  • Speaker, Water for Development, Sacramento County Bar Association, Real Property Section, Oct. 2005
  • Speaker, Advanced Land Use Planning, Lorman Education Services, January 2005
  • Moderator, Effective Management of Groundwater Resources, McGeorge School of Law Symposium on the 25th Anniversary of the Report of the Governor’s Commission to Review California Water Rights Law, Nov. 2004
  • Speaker, California Water Banking and Water Transfers, Lorman Education Services, March 2004, Oct. 2004

His other professional activities and affiliations include:

  • Top Lawyer, Sacramento Magazine (2016, 2017)
  • Northern California Super Lawyer (2009-2014)
  • Co-chair, Natural Resources subsection of the Real Property section of the California State Bar Association
  • Member, Sacramento County Bar Association
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, Legal Affairs Committee, Association of California Water Agencies


  • Author, “California Mandates Groundwater Regulation Through Local ‘Sustainability Plans’ Starting in 2020,” California Real Property Journal, an official publication of the Real Property Law Section of the State Bar of California, Vol. 32, No. 4 (2015)
  • Author, “Supreme Court Clarifies Rules Governing CEQA Review of Water Supplies for Real Estate Development,” California Real Property Journal, an official publication of the Real Property Law Section of the State Bar of California, Vol. 25, No. 1
  • Author, “Damages Determined for Giving Farmers’ Water to Fish,” California Real Property Journal, an official publication of the Real Property Law Section of the State Bar of California, Vol. 22, No. 3
  • Author, “Claims Court Rules that Giving Farmers’ Water to Fish Requires Just Compensation,” California Real Property Journal, an official publication of the Real Property Law Section of the State Bar of California, Vol. 19, No. 3/4
  • Author, “Takings Law: When Does a Regulation Leave a Property Owner with No Economically Viable Use,” Public Law Journal, Summer 2000
  • Author, “Nevada Land Claims Raised in U.S. v. Nye County Litigation,” Conference of Western Attorneys General Reporter, Fall 1995

Reported Decisions

  • Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment v. Castaic Lake Water Agency, 1 Cal.App.5th 1084 (2016)
  • Firebaugh Canal Water District v. United States, 712 F.3d 1296 (9th Cir. 2013)
  • Sonoma County Water Coalition v. Sonoma County Water Agency, 189 Cal.App.4th 33 (2010)
  • O.W.L. Foundation v. City of Rohnert Park, 168 Cal.App.4th 568 (2008)
  • In re Bay-Delta Programmatic Environmental Impact Report Coordinated Proceedings, 43 Cal.4th 1143 (2008)
  • California Water Impact Network v. Newhall County Water District, 161 Cal.App.4th 1464 (2008)
  • Westlands Water District, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, 275 F. Supp. 2d 1157(E.D. Cal. 2002), reversed in part by Westlands Water District v. U.S. Department of the Interior, 376 F. 3d 853 (9th Cir. 2004)
  • Jahr v. Casebeer, 70 Cal. App. 4th 1250 (1999)

Academic Background

J.D. University of California, Davis, 1997

B.S. Northwestern University, Medill School of Journalism, Chicago, 1989

    Speaking Engagements