Public and Private Water Management Organizations
Eighteen years ago, Laura Schroeder focused her law practice on water by first representing the Teel Irrigation District in various water organization matters. Included in her comprehensive representation of TID was among other things:
- Completion of organizational formalities: Draft updates to organizational documents including annual meeting notices and minutes; advise on board of director elections and appointments; advise on procedure for boundary changes and prepare petition and appropriate orders for inclusion of acreage;
- Negotiate Water Delivery and Storage Use Contracts: Review historical information from the federal government to use as a basis for negotiating more favorable contract terms with the federal government; obtain water use from federal Reclamation storage via existing contracts;
- Water Management and Regulatory Consulting: Obtain state water permit extensions and permit amendments including assisting with the passage of changes to the state water code to accomplish the amendments.
TID activities were necessarily complex because of tribal and environmental interests in the salmon fisheries that were associated with the water sources that TID used.
Over the years, Schroeder Law Offices, PC has assisted both irrigation and domestic water user organizations ranging from small 3-12 party homeowner's associations delivering from a single well to large consolidated municipal systems from surface water sources that include diversion, treatment, storage, and delivery facilities with the following:
- State Legislation: Provide legal interpretation of existing statutes and rules and compliance advice; participate in rule making committees to make changes with agency activity; assist in drafting and amending state law including: (a) changing the notice procedure to water users when agency's issue orders; (b) establishing procedures to move water rights within and outside the boundaries of the water organization; (c) changing the use of the water for instream purposes either temporarily or permanently; (d) changing points of diversion and use on water right claims (unadjudicated water use);
- Litigation: Provide advocacy for water organization clients in state and federal courts including appeals to higher courts to establish the limits of (a) water right ownership; (b) water right cancellations including lack of perfection, forfeiture and abandonment; (c) appropriate procedure for extensions of time for development of water use including the procedures involved; (d) use of statutory lien procedures to collect water organization assessments;
- Facilities Administration: Prepare licenses, easements, well share agreements and contracts to use storage water from federal or privately owned facilities;
- Title Transfer: Provide legal support to draft and obtain adoption of federal legislation to transfer title of Reclamation facilities to local water organization including assisting with preparation of environmental impact statements, cultural resource compliance and transfer documents;
- Formation: Initiate and complete the formation of at least five water organizations delivering irrigation water through applicable state law procedure which depends upon the county approval of such a special district;
- Water Organization Administration: Draft bylaws, rules and regulations, election manuals, resolutions, and personnel policies; secure director and employee benefits; provide consultation and continuing support to ensure compliance with statutory requirements for public records and meetings;
- Water Rights Administration: Provide due diligence and record maintenance for existing rights; consult and advise on regulatory compliance; assist in administering water rights and use to conform to applicable law; draft and obtain approvals for applications, permits, amendments, extensions, transfers and certificates; establish appropriate fees and rates for water delivery service; enforcing payment from water users when necessary through statutory lien and other procedures; develop rotation, easement, and contracts between the water organization and its users for water delivery and use of delivery facilities; and
- Water Quality Compliance: Prepare well head protection zones and agreements; assist in drafting and approval of Clean Water Act permits including nationwide permits for dredge and fill, wetlands; provide support for Drinking Water compliance including domestic water treatment parameter reporting and compliance.
Schroeder Law Offices, PC, acts as district counsel for organizations such as Pershing County Water Conservation District (PCWCD), Lovelock, Nevada and South Fork Water Board, Oregon City, Oregon.