Hanspeter Walter, Shareholder

Hanspeter practices in water, environmental, administrative, and land-use law, with an emphasis on regulatory compliance, water rights, water quality, and other land-use matters. His past work experience includes the California Department of Water Resources, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Hanspeter’s interdisciplinary education and experience also allow him to quickly assimilate issues and develop solutions to legal matters when complex biological, scientific, or technical information is involved.

Legal Experience

Hanspeter performs a variety of legal services for clients including litigation, transactional document preparation and review, in-depth legal research, and regulatory permitting and compliance assistance. Specific areas of experience include:

  • Endangered Species Acts (Federal and State)
  • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
  • Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)
  • Water supply assessments and verifications
  • Urban Water Management Plans
  • Land-use matters
  • Regulatory permits
  • Administrative proceedings
  • Clean Water Act

Prior to and while attending law school, Hanspeter worked as an Environmental Scientist for the California Department of Water Resources for more than five years, where his primary responsibilities included:

  • Ensuring that water projects complied with State and Federal environmental laws.
  • Preparing and conducting environmental and water supply analyses.
  • Developing and performing biological restoration, mitigation, and monitoring activities.
  • Working on inter-agency teams to resolve environmental, flood, and water supply challenges.

Practice Examples

Recent examples of legal matters Hanspeter has handled on behalf of clients include:

  • Challenging and defending Endangered Species Act biological opinions
  • Litigation involving the Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta
  • Preparing, defending and challenging CEQA and NEPA documents
  • Developing water supply strategies for clients to demonstrate long-term water supply availability to comply with California laws regarding development projects
  • Assisting private applicants with approval of reclamation plans under the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA)
  • Advising clients and drafting water transfer and sales agreements for water buyers and sellers
  • Litigating rights under Bureau of Reclamation water delivery contracts including application of California “area of origin” laws
  • Reviewing Urban Water Management Plans
  • Assisting in litigation defining the scope and applicability of the California Endangered Species Act (CESA)
  • Advising clients and drafting water transfer and sale agreements for water buyers and sellers
  • Preparing or responding to Freedom of Information Act and Public Record Act requests

Professional Activities & Affiliations

  • Northern California Rising Star (2012-2016)
  • Top Lawyers, Sacramento Magazine, 2016
  • Adjunct Professor, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law
  • Co-chair, Natural Resources subsection of the Real Property section of the California Lawyers Association
  • Member, Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), Groundwater Committee
  • Member, Legislative Committee, California Special Districts Association
  • Member, Sacramento County Bar Association
  • Recipient, State Bar Real Property Law Section, Outstanding Webinar Presentation, “Conducting Environmental Impact Review on Endangered Species Act Implementation—Achieving Informed Species Protection with Public Accountability,” May 2011
  • Member, Water Education Foundation’s Water Leaders Program, 2008-2009

Admitted to Practice

  • All California State Courts
  • United States District Court, Eastern District of California
  • United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • Supreme Court of the United States

Representative Decisions

  • San Luis & Delta Mendota Water Authority et al. v. U.S. Dept, of the Interior et al., 870 F.Supp.2d 943 (E.D. Cal. 2012)
  • In re Consolidated Delta Smelt Cases, 812 F.Supp.2d 1133 (E.D.Cal. 2011)
  • San Luis & Delta Mendota Water Authority et al. v. Salazar, 760 F.Supp.2d 855 (E.D.Cal. 2010)
  • In re Consolidated Salmonid Cases, 688 F.Supp.2d 1013 (E.D. Cal. 2010)
  • Consolidated Delta Smelt Cases, 717 F.Supp.2d 1021 (E.D. Cal. 2010)
  • Consolidated Salmonid Cases, 713 F.Supp.2d 1116 (E.D. Cal. 2010)
  • Consolidated Delta Smelt Cases, 686 F.Supp.2d 1026 (E.D. Cal. 2009)
  • Natural Resources Defense Council v. Kempthorne, 627 F.Supp.2d 1212 (E.D. Cal. 2009)
  • Natural Resources Defense Council v. Kempthorne, 621 F.Supp.2d 954 (E.D. Cal. 2009)
  • California Water Impact Network v. Newhall County Water Dist., 161 Cal.App.4th 1464 (2008)
  • Natural Resources Defense Council v. Kempthorne, 539 F.Supp.2d 1155 (E.D. Cal. 2008)
  • Nelson v. County of Kern, 118 Cal.Rptr.3d 736 (Cal.App.5th 2010)
  • Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority v. U.S. Dept. of Interior, 2011 WL 3322768 (E.D.Cal. 2011)
  • Kern County Water Agency v. Watershed Enforcers, 110 Cal.Rptr.3d 876 (Cal.App. 1st 2010)
  • In re Delta Smelt Consolidated Cases, 663 F.Supp.2d 922 (E.D.Cal. 2009)
  • San Luis Delta-Mendota Water Authority v. Salazar, 686 F.Supp.2d 1026 (E.D.Cal. 2009)
  • San Luis Delta-Mendota Water Authority v. Salazar, 666 F.Supp.2d 1137 (E.D.Cal. 2009)
  • Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations v. Gutierrez, 2008 WL 4657785 (E.D.Cal. 2008)
  • South Yuba River Citizens League v. National Marine Fisheries Service, 2007 WL 4374214 (E.D.Cal. 2007)

Academic Background

J.D. University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, 2006

  • Valedictorian of Evening Division
  • Member, Order of the Coif
  • Dean’s Honor Roll, 2002-2006
  • Witkin Award for highest grade in Water Law, Property, Evidence, Professional Responsibility, Business Associations, Wills & Trusts, Transnational Arbitration
  • Teaching Assistant, International Advocacy Course, August – May 2005

M.S. Wildlife Resources, University of Idaho, Moscow, 2000

  • “Chukar”, in Birds Of Oregon: A General Reference, 171-173, David B. Marshall, et al. eds., (Univ. of Oregon Press, 2003)
  • “Fall Diet of Chukars (Alectoris chukar) in Eastern Oregon and Discovery of Ingested Lead Pellets”, 63(3) Western North American Naturalist 402-405 (2003)
  • “Natural History and Ecology of the Chukar (Alectoris chukar) in the Northern Great Basin”, 5(1) Great Basin Birds 28-37 (2002)
  • “Ecology of the Chukar (Alectoris chukar) in Eastern Oregon,” M.S. Thesis (2000)

B.S. Forestry, University of California, Berkeley, 1996