Challenges and disputes with America's water supply focus of ABA conference

John C. Cruden, assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice, and Carlos Rubinstein, former chairman of the Texas Water Development Board and former commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, will be among the keynote speakers at the 34th Annual Water Law Conference hosted by the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources on March 29-30 at the Hyatt Regency Austin Hotel in Austin, Texas.
Rubinstein, principal at RSAH2O, LLC, will deliver the luncheon keynote remarks on Tuesday, March 29 at 1:30 p.m. Cruden, who heads the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, will be the keynote speaker at a program on Wednesday, March 30 at 10 talk about recent cases before the U.S. Supreme Court involving disputes over surface and groundwater rights.

During the two-day conference, environmental officials and representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, DOJ, and other federal and state agencies will meet with environmental attorneys from private practice, the nonprofit sector, and academia to discuss innovative solutions to deal with the challenge of water scarcity, the impact of shortages on long-term water supply planning, and the impact of water resources on different sectors of the economy.
Program highlights include:

• “Water Conservation and Its Impact on Water Supply, Financing, and Infrastructure” —This panel explores the impact of conservation on water supply, on water utility and provider finance, and on water-related infrastructure and system planning. Speakers include: Patricia Mulroy, senior fellow for Climate Adaptation and Environmental Policy, University of Nevada at Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law; Robert R. Puente, president and CEO of San Antonio Water System; Vail T. Thorne, senior environmental, health & safety counsel, Coca-Cola Company.

• “Water Quality in Indian Country” — This panel discussion will focus on innovative and emerging efforts to address water quality challenges in Indian Country. Panelists , including Ethan Shenkman, deputy general counsel of EPA’s office of general counsel, will discuss tribal capacity for the management of water quality; complications with federal Indian policies; and regulatory gaps throughout Indian Country.

• “One Year Later: The Waters of the United States Rule” — Panelists will present data showing how the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ “Waters of the United States” final rule is being applied in jurisdictional determinations across the country; explore remaining ambiguities and controversies; and discuss the state-of-play in pending legal challenges.

• “Interstate Water Management of a “Hidden” Resource” — As the management and allocation of groundwater is becoming more critical and reliance on groundwater is increasing, a panel of legal experts will address why the traditional legal principles of water law cannot be applied to groundwater hydrology, and will discuss the implications raised by the management and allocation of interstate groundwater. Speakers include: Paul Barlow, Hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey; and Burke Griggs, Kansas Attorney General's Office and nonresident fellow at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment.