Scott A. Morris, Shareholder

Scott focuses on natural resources, land use, and water law in his practice, representing both public and private clients. He often works closely with the firm’s public agency attorneys, advising and representing clients in areas that align with his areas of emphasis, which include water rights, water transfers, groundwater law including the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), environmental law, hazardous materials, mining and development permits. Prior to entering the legal profession, Scott worked as a civil engineer for 12 years-experience that he frequently finds invaluable in providing services to clients.

Legal Experience

Licensed to practice since 1994, Scott advises his clients on a variety of legal matters that pertain to natural resources, water law, land use, and environmental law. His clients include water districts, aggregate mining producers, municipalities and other public agencies. Specific areas of experience include:

  • Protecting water rights
  • Handling and negotiating water transfers
  • Mediation of Water Rights Disputes

Obtaining a variety of regulatory permits from state and local agencies, including:

  • State Water Rights Permits
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sections 404 and 10 Permits
  • Reclamation Board Encroachment Permits
  • County Use Permits
  • State Waste Discharge Requirements or Waivers
  • Department of Fish and Game Streambed Alteration Agreements

Complying with state and federal regulations including:

  • Clean Water Act
  • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
  • National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA)
  • Endangered Species Act (ESA)

Counseling aggregate and mining clients on several legal fronts including:

  • Compliance with the State Surface Mining and Reclamation Act
  • Federal general mining law
  • Obtaining use permits and zoning changes
  • Developing reclamation plans
  • Handling leases and mine sites on private, public and trust lands

Advising clients on matters related to handling of toxic and hazardous materials:

  • Regulatory requirements under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Comprehensive Environmental Response and Compensation Act (CERCLA), and state law
  • Underground storage tanks
  • Clean-up of hazardous sites

Scott currently serves as general counsel for Placer County Water Agency (PCWA), The Middle Fork Project Finance Authority (JPA with PCWA and Placer County), Ramirez Water District and Reclamation District 2035 where he provides general legal advice, informs the districts of state and federal regulations impacting them, and handles water rights and water transfer matters on the districts’ behalf. Scott also serves as general counsel for Kirkwood Meadows Association (a homeowners association) where he advises the board in matters relating to the Davis-Stirling Act and other homeowners association issues.

Scott also has a growing body of experience in litigation matters revolving around environmental law and water supply issues. He has defended public agencies in CEQA, NEPA and ESA challenges of development projects based on claims of inadequate water supplies, defended public agencies in citizens’ lawsuits involving the Clean Water Act, and filed cases on behalf of both private and public clients regarding these same matters. In addition, Scott has represented clients before a variety of public agencies, prepared and analyzed engineering flood studies, and written CEQA, NEPA and ESA documents for his clients.

Prior to entering the law field, Scott was employed as a project engineer by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where he was in charge of evaluating the conditions of the 1,000 miles of Sacramento River Flood Control Project levees, and repairing levees damaged after severe floods. He has also served as a consulting civil engineer to a variety of groups including:

  • Reclamation, flood control and irrigation districts
  • Water companies
  • Large and small agricultural businesses
  • The aggregate industry
  • Land development firms
  • Federal, state and local agencies
  • Municipalities

Practice Examples

Examples of legal matters Scott has handled on behalf of clients include:

  • Successfully completed negotiation of a water transfer deal estimated to be worth $100 million that involved the transfer of the lower Kern River water rights from the Nickel Family, LLC to the Kern County Water Agency.
  • Scott served as mediator for the Shasta County Superior Court in the matter of Mazzini v. Erwin, et al. (Shasta County case no. 147961). In that case Mr. Morris developed a physical solution to a water rights dispute that was ultimately adopted by the Court.
  • Successful defense of PCWA in numerous lawsuits including challenges by the Natural Resources Defense Counsel, ratepayer challenges and construction matters.
  • As part of a team of attorneys, Scott was involved in the successful defense of the Marin County Community Services District against taxpayer and environmental challenges over the creation of an assessment district to sell bonds for water improvements for the waterfront community.
  • Involved in the successful defense of the City of Crescent City in a takeover attempt of their water supply system by Del Norte County.
  • Gained approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for more than 150 private boat docks for a residential development in the Stockton area.
  • Successfully managed all permit processing and the Environmental Impact Report for a 95-berth marina expansion project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
  • As a consultant to the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, Mr. Morris conducted studies of the American River and participated in the Lower American River Task Force.

Professional Activities & Affiliations

Scott maintains active participation in several associations and has presented on a number of topics including the Brown Act and boundary laws. His professional activities and affiliations include:

  • Top Lawyer, Sacramento Magazine, 2016
  • Northern California Super Lawyer (2012, 2013)
  • Member, Legal Affairs Committee, Association of California Water Agencies
  • Board Member/Vice President, Water Education Foundation
  • Chairman of the Board and Treasurer, Kronick Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard
  • Member, American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Member, California Farm Bureau
  • Member, Sacramento County Bar Association
  • Member, California State Bar Association
  • Instructor and presenter for MCLE course on boundary law
  • Co-Chair of LSI Groundwater Sustainability in California Conference (3 annual conferences to date)
  • Registered Civil Engineer, State of California
  • Graduate of Water Education Foundation’s Water Leaders Program, 1998

Academic Background

J.D. University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, 1994

M.E. Virginia Polytechnic Institute, 1982

B.A. University of Virginia, 1981

    Speaking Engagements

    02.05.2018

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    Speaking Engagement

    |

    Sustainable Groundwater Planning

    Date:

    February 5-6

     

    Location:

    Los Angeles, CA

    Sponsored By:

    Law Seminars International (LSI)

    Overview:

    Kronick Shareholders Constantine Baranoff, Jon CristyScott Morris and Holly Roberson will present at the Sustainable Groundwater in California conference in Sacramento on February 5-6. Scott will provide opening remarks as Program Co-Chair. Constantine and Jon’s presentation will discuss financing options and strategies for GSP development, including perspectives on whether it is possible, or desirable to try to structure initial planning to avoid falling under Proposition 218 as well as anticipating rate setting issues under Propositions 26 and 21. Holly will discuss working with Tribes as Sovereigns as opposed to stakeholders including legal parameters and requirements for Tribal consultation.

    For more information or to register, please visit the event website.

    11.13.2017

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    Speaking Engagement

    |

    Groundwater Management Lessons from California

    Date:

    Monday, November 13

    Location:

    Reno, Nevada

    Organized By:

    CLE International

    Program Overview:

    Kronick Shareholder Scott Morris will participate in a panel discussion that explores Groundwater Management in California for the those in the Nevada water sector.

    Registration:

    Please visit the event website for more information and to register.

    07.10.2017

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    Speaking Engagement

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    Sustainable Groundwater Planning in California

    Date:


    Monday, July 10 - Tuesday, July 11


    Time:


    8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


    Sponsored By:

    Law Seminars International (LSI)

    Overview:

    Kronick Shareholders Jonathan Christy, Scott Morris and Eric Robinson will present at the Sustainable Groundwater in California conference in Sacramento on July 10-11. Scott will provide opening remarks as Program Co-Chair. John's presentation will discuss SGMA and cost recovery under Proposition 218 and provide an update on recent decisions and how they impact project planning, as well as issues still to be resolved and tips for dealing with the resulting uncertainty. Eric will discuss the validation of GSAs and GSPs: Automatic approvals under the validation statutes; timing issues for validating GSAs and GSPs; reverse validation suits; tips for developing plans with validation in mind and strategies for challenging validation.

    For more information or to register, please visit the event website.

    05.09.2017

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    Kronick Sponsorship

    |

    ACWA’s 2017 Spring Conference

    Date:


    May 9-12, 2017


    Location:


    Monterey, CA



     


     


    Organized By:

    Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA)

    Program Overview:

    Kronick is proud to sponsor ACWA's Spring Conference in Monterey. This year’s theme “One Water, One Future” will explore California’s shared vision — and challenges — for constructing a water future together. ACWA’s Spring Conference welcomes diverse perspectives — agricultural and urban, large and small agencies — to attend over 80 meeting and program sessions that drill down into the regulatory, environmental and political issues that shape the industry. Conference attendees have the opportunity to dialogue and debate these contemporary water issues presented from a local, statewide, and federal perspective, so they may increase their understanding of other points of view and improve their leadership skills in solving today’s challenges. The conference also offers continuing education credits in the legal, energy, financial, and drinking water issue areas for professionals seeking contact hours.

    Registration:

    Please visit the event website for more information and to register.

    01.09.2017

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    Speaking Engagement

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    SGMA, GSA Setup& GSP Preparation

    Date:


    January 9-10, 2017


    Location:


    Los Angeles, CA



     

    Organized By:

    Law Seminars International

    Program Overview:

    Kronick is pleased to sponsor the SGMA, GSA Setup & GSP Preparation conference in Los Angeles on January 9-10. Shareholders Jonathan CristyScott Morris and Eric Robinson will present. Scott will provide opening remarks as Program Co-Chair. Eric will provide an update on appeals – the processes for challenging GSPs including forums; standing; standards for review; and tips for participating in plan development with the possibility of appeal in mind. John's presentation will discuss SGMA and cost recovery under Proposition 218 and provide an update on recent decisions and how they impact project planning, as well as issues still to be resolved and tips for dealing with the resulting uncertainty. 

    Registration:

    Please visit the event website for more information and to register.

    06.28.2016

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    Kronick Sponsorship

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    Toward Sustainable Groundwater in Agriculture: 2nd International Conference Linking Science and Policy

    Date:


    June 28 - June 30


    8:00am - 5:00pm


    Location:


    Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport

    1333 Bayshore Hwy

    Burlingame, CA 94010



     

    Organizers:

    Organized By:

    Water Education Foundation

    UC Davis Robert M. Hagan Endowed Chair

    Program Overview:

    Kronick is pleased to sponsor the 2016 International Groundwater Conference on June 28-30 in Burlingame. The conference will provide scientists, policymakers, agricultural and environmental stakeholders, government officials and consultants with the latest scientific, management, legal and policy advances for sustaining our groundwater resources in agricultural regions around the world. 

    Registration:

    Please visit the event website for more information and to register.

    06.06.2016

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    Speaking Engagement

    |

    Sustainable Groundwater in California

    Date:


    Monday, June 6 - Tuesday, June 7


    Time:


    8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


     


    Sponsored By:

    Law Seminars International (LSI)

    Presenters:

    [SPEAKERS]

    Overview:

    Kronick Shareholders Jonathan Christy, Scott Morris and Eric Robinson will present at the Sustainable Groundwater in California conference in Sacramento on June 6-7. Scott will provide opening remarks as Program Co-Chair. John's presentation will discuss SGMA and cost recovery under Proposition 218 and provide an update on recent decisions and how they impact project planning, as well as issues still to be resolved and tips for dealing with the resulting uncertainty. Eric will provide an update on water rights rules for allocating groundwater; surface water storage (when water in the ground is not groundwater); relationship between groundwater rights law and Sustainability Plans. 

    For more information or to register, please visit the event website.

    10.29.2015

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    Speaking Engagement

    |

    Groundwater Regulation in California

    Dates:


    October 29 & 30, 2015


    Location:


    Millenium Biltmore Hotel

    Los Angeles, CA


    This seminar is also available via webcast


    MCLE:


    11.25 hours


     


    Sponsored By:

    Law Seminars International (LSI)

    Groundwater Regulation in California

    Who Should Attend:

    Attorneys, environmental and real estate professionals, corporate managers, governmental officials, Tribal representatives, resource managers and planners

    Overview:

    California's new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act is perhaps the most significant water law to be passed in the last 100 years. For the first time, California will implement broad reaching regulations over groundwater that will be phased in over the next several years. These new requirements will substantially affect future decisions in the areas of land use, the environment, agriculture and municipal water use, and many other aspects of California life.

    Join industry experts, leading attorneys and agency officials for a two-day conference regarding the mechanics and implications of the new Act. Topics include statewide perspectives in groundwater management, legal implications of the new laws, practical approaches and requirements for forming Groundwater Sustainability Agencies and developing Groundwater Sustainability Plans, the role of state agencies, funding issues, and practical examples of how real life groundwater disputes are resolved today.

    This comprehensive conference will provide local government, agricultural, environmental, attorney and consultant interests with a working knowledge of how to plan for the future under the new groundwater legislation.

    Kronick Presenters:

    [SPEAKERS]

    Registration:

    For more information and to register, please visit the LSI website

    09.15.2014

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    Speaking Engagement

    |

    16th Annual Conference on Energy in California | Practical Advice and Up-to-date Information on Recent Legal, Regulatory and Buisness Developments

    Date:


    September 15-16, 2014


    Location:


    SF Marriott Union Square

    San Francisco, CA


    Organizers:

    Sponsored By:

    Law Seminars International
    16th Annual Conference on Energy in California (September 15-16, 2014)

    This year's 16th annual Energy in California conference explores a number of cutting-edge areas and brings both practical advice and up-to-date information on recent developments in emerging areas such as energy storage and integrating renewable resources through capacity markets. Conference participants will hear from seasoned practitioners and senior agency staff and will receive the latest information on developments at the California Public Utilities Commission and California Air Resources Board. The conference will also explore new trends in distributed generation and micro-grids. We will hear about climate change and California's water supply planning and learn about potential impacts on hydropower generation.

    Kronick Presenter:

    [SPEAKERS]

    Scott will be presenting on "Water Availability and Stream Flow Considerations: How Will They Impact the Generating Mix"
    Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 8:30 AM

    Registration:

    For more information and to register, please visit the LSI website

    02.23.2012

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    Speaking Engagement

    |

    Water Education Foundation: Water 101 – The Basics and Beyond

    Date:


    Thursday, February 23, 2012


    Time:


    2:30 - 3:30 p.m.


    Location:


    UC Davis Extension

    Davis, CA


    Organizers:

    Sponsored By:

    The Water Education Foundation
    A day-and-a-half course on California water basics and water district board member governance (February 24 – 25, 2012)

    KMTG Presenters:

    [SPEAKERS]

    Presentation Overview:

    Mr. Morris' presentation, "Legal and Institutional Management Framework," will focus on the following topics:

    • Summary of governing laws
    • Water management institutions and stakeholder groups, including government agencies and major constituency groups and agencies

    Registration:

    For more information and to register, please visit the Water Education Foundation's website.