Law Seminars International Presents:

The Tenth Annual Comprehensive Conference on

Tribal Water in the Southwest

Key new developments for Tribal water rights and management, settlement processes and implementation, and infrastructure development

April 27 & 28, 2023

Live via Interactive Online Broadcast

As a value-added bonus, you'll receive access to downloadable audio and video recordings at no additional charge.

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Program Overview

Who Will Benefit from Attending

Attorneys, Tribal, local, state and federal governmental representatives, environmental professionals, industry executives, water users and their representatives

Why You will Benefit from Attending

The ongoing drought is keeping Tribal water rights, impacts of the changing climate, and environmental protections as front burner issues in the Southwest. With respect to Tribal water rights, we start the program with a review of Tribal/state water settlements working their way through the federal pipeline and take a deep dive into a case study of settlements for several New Mexico pueblos. We will follow that with a panel addressing implementation of water settlements.

There are several cases relating to Tribal water security on the US Supreme Court's docket for the 2022-2023 term with a potential impact on water availability for Tribes. An alternative to water from the Colorado River is groundwater, so we end the first day with a discussion of declining surface water on groundwater and how Tribes can protect groundwater resources.

The region is very dependent on water from the Colorado river. In this year's program you will hear about continuing climate change impacts on water availability, collaborative efforts to adapt river management to new climatological realities, and negotiations among stakeholders to cut consumption and increase water levels in Lakes Powell and Mead.

We will wrap up the program with a panel discussing opportunities for effective Tribal engagement on big water management issues. This will include Tribal engagement on climate change issues, how Tribes can influence the resources available for converting paper senior water rights to appropriated water, and tips for overcoming obstacles to claiming Tribal water rights.

This conference prides itself on offering lively, timely, and informative discussions with our speakers. Join us to hear from a group of speakers well versed in the significant Tribal water issues in the Southwest, who will provide their insight in what has happened in the past year and how to navigate what is expected to occur in the next few years.

Register soon to reserve your virtual seat.

~ John C. Bezdek, Esq. of Water and Power Law Group and

Heather Whiteman Runs Him, Esq. of James E. Rogers College of Law,

Program Co-Chairs

What You Will Learn

  • National update on Tribal Water Right Settlements
  • Tribal Water Rights Settlement case studies
  • Implementation of water settlements
  • Tribal Water Security in the US Supreme Court's 2022-2023 Term
  • Regulatory structures for conjunctive management of ground and surface water
  • Update on the ongoing litigation relating to Agua Caliente Band's regulatory authority over groundwater
  • Climate Change Impacts on water availability
  • Voluntary state efforts for to maintain streamflows in the Colorado River Basin
  • Tier 1 and Tier 2 Water Restrictions for agricultural irrigation
  • EffectiveTribal engagement on Big River issues

What Participants Have Said About Similar Programs

  • Very good conference and agenda w/ professional speakers. Thank you for all the information
  • "Now I have a better understanding on how Tribal Water is a big issue and there are laws, settlements, and financial gates to get through. All the speakers and topics were very interesting."
  • "Excellent Speakers, Wide range of expert level knowledge, Great update on current state of issues."
  • "Interesting information. I plan to take what I learned and research some of these topics further."

Agenda Day 1

9:00 am

Mountain Standard / Pacific Daylight Time: Introduction & Overview

John C. Bezdek, Esq. , Program Co-Chair
Water and Power Law Group / Washington, DC

Heather Whiteman Runs Him, Esq. , Program Co-Chair, Director, Tribal Justice Clinic
James E. Rogers College of Law / Tucson, AZ

9:15 am

National Update on Tribal Water Right Settlements

Overview of Tribal/state water settlements working their way through the federal pipeline; anticipated additional Congressional action on settlements; process changes at DOI

Pamela S. Williams, Esq. , Director, Indian Water Rights Office
U.S. Department of the Interior / Phoenix, AZ

Sarah LeFlore, Esq. , Attorney Advisor, Indian Water Rights Office
U.S. Department of the Interior / Washington, DC

10:15 am


10:30 am

Tribal Water Rights Settlement Case Study: Provisions of 2022 Senate Bills for New Mexico Pueblos, How the Politics Played Out, and Lessons for Future Legislative Efforts

New Mexico Pueblos: Perspectives on S. 4896 (Pueblos of Jemez and Zia) and S. 4898 (Pueblos of Acoma and Laguna)

Nicole Greenspan, Esq. , Staff Attorney
New Mexico Office of the State Engineer / Santa Fe, NM

Ann Berkley Rodgers, Esq.
Chestnut Law Offices / Albuquerque, NM

John W. Utton, Esq.
Utton & Kery / Santa Fe, NM

12:15 pm

Lunch Break

1:15 pm

Implementation of Tribal Water Rights Settlements

Congressional approval as necessary but also just a starting point: Anticipating the legal and practical issues likely to arise so that you can develop effective implementation plans, including the most effective use of federal funding

Katie Brossy, Esq.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld / Washington, DC

2:00 pm

Tribal Water Security in the US Supreme Court's 2022-2023 Term

Update on the arguments and outcomes for Arizona v. Navajo Nation and Department of the Interior v. Navajo Nation relating to the federal government's trust obligations to assert Tribal rights to Colorado River water

Kate Hoover, Esq.
Sacks Tierney / Scottsdale, AZ

2:45 pm

The Role of Indigenous People in Governing Shared Waters

Update on the proceedings and action commitment coming out of the recent UN Water Conference

Sharon B. Megdal, Ph.D. , Director, Water Resources Research Center
University of Arizona / Tucson, AZ

3:15 pm


3:30 pm

Groundwater: As Surface Water Declines Groundwater Protection and Tribal Access to Groundwater Become More Important

Arizona's regulatory structure for conjunctive management of ground and surface water

Michael J. Pearce, Esq.
Gammage & Burnham / Phoenix, AZ

Update on the ongoing litigation relating to Agua Caliente Band's regulatory authority over groundwater, the Tribe's regulatory structure for implementing that authority, and tips for using Tribal authority over water quality to protect groundwater

Catherine F. Munson, Esq.
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton / Washington, DC

Margaret E. Park, AICP , Chief Planning Officer
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians / Palm Springs, CA

5:00 pm

Adjourn Day 1

Friday, April 28, 2023

9:00 am

Climate Change Impacts on Water Availability

Climatological forecasts for near-term and long-term water supplies: How much water will Mother Nature be supplying?

Erinanne Saffell, Ph.D. , Arizona State Climatologist
Arizona State University / Tempe, AZ

9:45 am

Update on Efforts to Reduce Use and Increase Lake Levels in the Colorado River Basin: What Needs to be Done vs. What Has Been Politically Possible

The Upper Basin

Chuck Cullom , Executive Director
Upper Colorado River Commission / Salt Lake City, UT

The Lower Basin

Leslie A. Meyers, P.E. , Chief Water Executive
Salt River Project / Phoenix, AZ

11:00 am


11:15 am

Adaptation Strategies for the Colorado River Basin

Update on the Water and Tribes Initiative for the Colorado River Basin: Collaboration by Tribes, conservation organizations, watershed groups, universities, and state and federal agencies to shape the future of the basin

Celene Hawkins, Esq. , Colorado River Tribal Engagement Program Director
The Nature Conservancy / Boulder, CO

T. Daryl Vigil , Co-Director
Water & Tribes in the Colorado River Basin / Scottsdale, AZ

12:00 pm

Lunch Break

1:00 pm

Opportunities for Effective Tribal Engagement on Big Water Management Issues

Tribal engagement on climate change issues, including the ongoing drought, and how Tribes can influence the resources available for converting paper senior water rights to water appropriated for beneficial use under Western Water Law

Daniel Cordalis, Esq. , Tribal Partnerships Manager
Colorado River Sustainability Campaign / Arcata, CA

How the interplay between the 1922 Colorado River Compact, which largely ignored Tribal rights to water, and western first in beneficial use water law have made it difficult for Tribes to claim their water rights

Jason Travis Hauter, Esq.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld / Washington, DC

2:30 pm

Evaluations and Adjourn

Faculty Bios

John C. Bezdek, John C. Bezdek, Program Co-Chair, is a shareholder in the Water and Power Law Group. He previously served as Counselor to the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, Assistant Solicitor for Water and Power Resources, and Deputy Director of the Secretary's Indian Water Rights Office. He has negotiated complex water rights settlements in the Klamath River Basin (Oregon and California), Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (Colorado), with the Navajo Nation (New Mexico) and the Colorado Ute Tribes (New Mexico and Colorado).

Heather Whiteman Runs Him, Heather Whiteman Runs Him, Program Co-Chair, is Director, Tribal Justice Clinic at the University of Arizona's James E. Rogers College of Law. She previously worked at the Native American Rights Fund, where she represented Tribal clients on water rights and advised clients on claims relating to water, land, and other natural resource issues. Prior to that, she was joint lead counsel at the Crow Tribe Office of Executive Counsel.

Katie Brossy, Katie Brossy, a member of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, is senior counsel at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld where she advises clients regarding American Indian law and policy. She has worked on a number of highly significant Tribal issues, including one of the largest Indian water rights settlements in U.S. history and the largest Tribal trust claim settlement.

Daniel Cordalis Daniel Cordalis is Tribal Partnerships Manager for the Colorado River Sustainability Campaign. He is a member of the Navajo Nation, a natural resources and Indian law attorney, and has worked in private and nonprofit practice to protect Tribes' water, natural, and cultural resources through litigation, resource negotiations, land acquisition, and Tribal governance and land management initiatives.

Chuck Cullom Chuck Cullom is Executive Director of the Upper Colorado River Commission. Prior to joining the UCRC, he was the Colorado River Programs Manager for the Central Arizona Water Conservation District.

Nicole Greenspan Nicole Greenspan is an attorney for the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer in the Bureau for Pueblos, Tribes, & Nations. The Bureau focuses on the adjudication and settlement of the water rights claims of the Pueblos, Tribes, & Nations in New Mexico, and implementation among Tribal and non-Tribal parties.

Jason Travis Hauter, Jason Travis Hauter, a Member of the Gila River Indian Community, is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. He represents Tribes and Tribally owned enterprises on a wide range of issues including water rights. He previously served as in-house counsel for the Gila Indian River Community.

Celene Hawkins Celene Hawkins is the Colorado River Tribal Engagement Program Director for The Nature Conservancy with a special focus on advancing Tribal freshwater conservation projects in the San Juan River Basin. She also leads the Tribal Water Initiative in the Conservancy's Colorado River Program and serves on the leadership team of the Water and Tribes Initiative.

Kate Hoover Kate Hoover is of counsel to Sacks Tierney. She exclusively focuses on matters related to the unmet water needs of the Navajo Nation. She has worked in Indian country for over thirty years serving as both in-house and outside counsel for several other Tribes.

Sarah LeFlore, Sarah LeFlore, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, is a policy analyst in the Secretary's Indian Water Rights Office at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Previously, she was an attorney in the Solicitor's Office for nearly ten years and specialized in Indian water rights with an emphasis on settlement, adjudication, and allottee issues. In her current role, she coordinates Indian water rights settlement activities in Arizona, Montana, Utah, and Oklahoma.

Sharon B. Megdal, Ph.D. Sharon B. Megdal, Ph.D. is Director of the Water Resources Research Center at the University of Arizona. She aims to bridge the academic, practitioner, and civil society communities through water policy and management research, education, and engagement programs. Her applied research projects include analysis of water management, policy, and governance in water-scarce regions, groundwater recharge, and transboundary aquifer assessment. Key engagement initiatives are Indigenous Water Dialogues and Diversifying Voices in Water Resources.

Leslie A. Meyers, P.E., Leslie A. Meyers, P.E., is the Chief Water Executive and Associate General Manager of Water Resources for the Salt River Project. She previously served as the Phoenix Area Office Manager for the Bureau of Reclamation. During her career, she has worked on strategic initiative planning and implementation with federal and state-level organizations, Tribes, irrigation districts, local governments, non-governmental organizations, and others.

Catherine F. Munson Catherine F. Munson is co-leader of the Native American Affairs practice at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. She specializes in water-related litigation and in advising clients on water matters, including water marketing, leasing, storage, protection of water quality, water regulation, and code drafting. She has been lead counsel for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in its case against California water districts seeking a declaration and quantification of Agua Caliente's federally reserved rights to groundwater.

Margaret E. Park, AICP, Margaret E. Park, AICP, is the Chief Planning Officer for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. She formerly served as the Tribe's Director of Planning and Natural Resources for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and was responsible for the day-to-day operations of a diverse team of planning and natural resource professionals tasked with managing land planning, natural resources, development entitlements/permitting and community development.

Michael J. Pearce Michael J. Pearce is a member of Gammage & Burnham exclusively focusing on water rights, water management, and water policy matters. He has been involved in interstate litigation concerning the Colorado River Basin, the Missouri River Basin and the Apalachicola/Chattahoochee/Flint River Basin. He has also represented several interests in the Arizona general stream adjudications and through the Arizona Assured Water Supply program.

Ann Berkley Rodgers Ann Berkley Rodgers is an owner-attorney at Chestnut Law Offices. She previously was a Research Professor focusing on water law at the University of New Mexico School of Law and a Research Attorney for the Northern Pueblos Tributary Water Rights Association.

Erinanne Saffell, Ph.D., Erinanne Saffell, Ph.D., is the Arizona State Climatologist and a Senior Global Futures Scientist at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory at Arizona State University. Her main research interests are extreme weather and climate events, including flood and drought, as well as impacts of the Urban Heat Island. She is currently co-chair of the Arizona Drought Monitoring Technical Committee and serves on the American Meteorological Society Board of Outreach and Informal Education.

John W. Utton, John W. Utton, Utton & Kery, previously served as an Assistant New Mexico Attorney General. His litigation practice is devoted almost entirely to water law matters. Currently, he is representing clients in five stream system adjudication suits in New Mexico. He has also represented clients in three Indian water rights settlements that have been approved by Congress.

T. Daryl Vigil, T. Daryl Vigil, Jicarilla Apache, Jemez Pueblo, Zia Pueblo, is the Co-Director of Water & Tribes in the Colorado River Basin and the Water Administrator for the Jicarilla Apache Nation, He also is Chairman of Water is Life, a Tribal Partnership, spokesperson for, and past Chairman of, the Colorado River Ten Tribes Partnership, and member of the Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project Planning, Construction, and Operation Committees.

Pamela S. Williams Pamela S. Williams is the Director of the Secretary's Indian Water Rights Office at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Her duties include coordinating Indian water right settlement issues among the Department's agencies, providing policy advice to officials at the highest levels of the Department and supervising Water Rights Office staff who oversee, coordinate, and manage federal negotiation, implementation, and assessment teams that the Department has in place throughout the western United States.

Continuing Education Credits

Live credits: This program qualifies for 10.50 AZ, 10.75 CA, 10.50 NM MCLE, and 10.50 ABCEP environmental professional credits. Upon request, we will help you apply for CLE credits in other states and other types of credits.

I appreciate LSI's seamless segue from registration, an informative seminar, to end result.

Remote Access to the Live Program

The day before the program, we will email you a link to the materials and one to log into the broadcast. Fill out the Zoom "Registration" form by entering your name and email address. That will log you in.

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