Robert E. Donlan

Robert E. Donlan
Rated by Super Lawyers

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Practice Focus

Bar and Court Admissions
State Bar of California

J.D., McGeorge School of Law, 1996
B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1991

Rob Donlan is a Partner in Ellison Schneider Harris & Donlan. Rob specializes in water and natural resources law, including all aspects of surface water and groundwater rights and management; state and federal Endangered Species Acts and fisheries laws; the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); water quality and wetlands regulation; and other areas of state and federal regulation involving use and management of water resources. Rob’s experience also includes public agency governance and administration, infrastructure and regulatory finance, desalination and recycled water use, and water supply for power and energy development.

Rob represents a broad range of public agencies, counties, municipalities, utilities, public and private institutions, and individual water users before federal and California courts, the State Water Resources Control Board, Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Public Utilities Commission, and other administrative agencies. Rob often advocates before legislative and administrative bodies on behalf of water users and water suppliers concerning all aspects of water rights and water management policy.

Representative Experience

Water Rights: Assists with the establishment, retention and defense of surface and groundwater rights, including the establishment and defense of pre-1914 appropriative rights, applications and petitions before the State Water Resources Control Board, and water rights actions in the California courts.

Water Transfers and Supply Agreements: Assists with water transfer development, permitting and contracting, and development and execution of water supply agreements for residential, agricultural, industrial, and municipal uses.

Fisheries: Assists with project permitting and regulatory actions under the California and federal Endangered Species Acts, the California Fish and Game Code, and public trust laws.

Water Quality: Assists with water quality policies and regulatory programs affecting diversion and use of water, including water quality certifications, discharge permits, total maximum daily loads, and diversion and intake policies and regulations.

CEQA and Project Permitting: Assists with all aspects of water project development, including environmental review under CEQA, and permitting under state and federal statutes and local regulations.

Administrative and Legislative Advocacy: Appears regularly before administrative and legislative bodies to advocate on behalf of clients and concerning policy matters involving water use and management.

Governance and Project Finance: Assists public clients with governance formation and management, public meeting requirements, and public and private clients with project finance and rate structure issues.

Federal Reclamation Law: Assists clients with all manner of federal water supply and contract law, including Reclamation Laws, the Central Valley Project and Improvement Acts, and the Boulder Canyon Project Act and the Law of the Colorado River.

Litigation: Works with Ellison Schneider Harris & Donlan litigation team on civil litigation and writ of mandate matters in state and federal courts, including appellate review.

Representative Clients

East Bay Municipal Utilities District, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, San Luis Obispo County, Colusa County, Sacramento Groundwater Authority, El Dorado Irrigation District, Montague Water Conservation District, Fair Oaks Water District, Jurupa Community Services District, Montecito Water District, California American Water Company, Del Oro Water Company, Spreckels Water Company, PacifiCorp Energy, NRG Energy, Brookfield Energy, Eagle Crest Energy, Stanford University, Tanimura & Antle, Inc., Cargill, Inc., Teichert, Premier Pacific Vineyards, Gallo Vineyards, Alturas Ranches, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, and Scott River Water Trust.

Awards and Professional Recognition

The Best Lawyers in America®, 2024 edition (Environmental, Natural Resources, and Water Law)

Northern California Super Lawyers (Energy and Natural Resources), 2020