Public Agency

Lagerlof has practiced municipal and water law for more than 80 years, earning an unparalleled reputation in this area of practice. 

Published Cases & Representative Matters

Key Contacts:

Published Cases:
  • Antelope Valley Groundwater Cases (2020) 59 Cal.App.5th 241. A public agency seeking an appropriative groundwater right had the burden of proof to show there was surplus water in the basin.
  • Newhall County Water Dist. 4.C. Castaic Lake Water Agency (2016) 243 Cal.App.4th 1430. A wholesale water agency’s practice of charging a county water district for groundwater pumping violated Proposition 26.
  • Castaic Lake Water Agency v. Newhall County Water Dist. (2015) 238 Cal.App.4th 1196. A water district’s meeting agenda substantially complied with the Brown Act in describing a closed session about initiating a lawsuit.
  • California Water Impact Network v. Newhall County Water Dist. (2008) 161 Cal.App.4th 1464. A water district cannot be sued to invalidate a water supply assessment.
  • Utility Cost Management v. Indian Wells Valley Water Dist. (2001) 26 Cal.4th 1185 (amicus brief). A 120-day statute of limitations applied to a challenge to a water district’s capital facilities fee.
  • Ventura Group Ventures v. Ventura Port Dist. (2001) 24 Cal.4th 1089. Proposition 13 and Proposition 218 bar a local agency from raising property taxes or levying an assessment to pay a judgment.
  • Water Replenishment District v. City of Cerritos 202 Cal.App.4th 1063 (2012).  We represented the Cities of Lakewood and Long Beach.  The court ruled in our favor, holding that the trial court was wrong in concluding that it lacked jurisdiction to allocate space underground for water storage by parties to the groundwater judgment.
Representative Matters:
  • Negotiated and consummated a merger between two water agencies, including getting implementing legislation passed.
  • Settled a lawsuit between a city and a water district over which one would provide recycled water service by forming a joint powers agency whereby they both do.
  • Negotiated a water transfer, marking the first time the facilities of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California were used to transport the water.
  • Negotiated a settlement that resulted in a comprehensive program for underground water storage in the Central Basin, a large water basin in southern Los Angeles County.
Bills Authored:

Senate Bill 1284 (Ducheny) – This bill was passed into law in 2010 and allowed dischargers who had inadvertently failed to file discharge reports to escape significant liability under compounded mandatory minimum penalties that resulted from those reporting failures.  That bill saved local water suppliers millions of dollars in avoided penalties.

Assembly Bill 54 (Solorio) – 2011; and Assembly Bill 240 (Rendon) – 2013 – Andrew Turner and James Ciampa were significantly involved in drafting and negotiating both of these bills and were integral in removing onerous and unworkable provisions from the bills, which would have severely adversely impacted mutual water companies throughout the state.

Assembly Bill 656 (Cristina Garcia) – 2015 – James Ciampa drafted this bill and testified in support of it in the State Legislature.  This bill authorized a joint powers insurance authority to be formed among mutual water companies and public agencies, in order to provide lower cost insurance to small water systems and to use monies derived from the premiums to provide technical and managerial assistance to those small water systems.

Significant Projects:

Served as the lead counsel relating to the formation of the joint powers authority that will operate the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project, an $800 million project in Northern California that will provide enhanced water storage and water supply to the Bay Area.  That project involves eight project partners from throughout the Bay Area and stretching into the Central Valley.

Served as general counsel to the California Association of Mutual Water Companies since its formation and to the California Association of Mutual Water Companies Joint Powers Risk and Insurance Management Authority since its formation, which was authorized by AB 656.

James Ciampa

Thomas Bunn

William Kruse

Andrew Turner

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