Western Water Law Conference

Meet Your Distinguished Faculty


Program Co-Chairs

Michael A. Gheleta, Esq.
Somach Simmons & Dunn, Boulder, CO
Michael A. Gheleta has had an extensive career
in western water law, working in a variety of
positions in both the public and private sectors.
He is currently a shareholder with the firm of
Somach Simmons & Dunn. Mr. Gheleta has
also held positions in the US Department of
the Interior’s Solicitors Office, including Acting
Assistant Solicitor for Water and Power, where
he supervised attorneys working on Bureau of
Reclamation matters, and Phoenix Field Solicitor,
where he oversaw the Department’s legal work
in Arizona and also served on a number of Indian
water rights settlement teams. Earlier in his career,
he spent 15 years as a trial attorney in the US
Department of Justice’s Environment & Natural
Resources Division, litigating some of the nation’s
most significant water and public lands cases
Roderick E. Walston, Esq.
Best Best & Krieger, Walnut Creek, CA
Roderick E. Walston is at the center of many
of the region’s most impactful and landmark
water rights cases. Especially in times of drought,
these cases and decisions affect everyone in
California and beyond — from homeowners and
developers to farmers and businesses. As of
counsel in Best Best & Krieger LLP’s Litigation
and Environmental & Natural Resources practice
groups, and previously during his long career
in the California Attorney General’s office, Mr.
Walston has litigated many of California’s most
important natural resources and environmental
cases, particularly at the appellate level and seven
before the US Supreme Court.

Featured Presenter

Estevan Lopez
Senior Engineer
Occam Engineers, Albuquerque, NM
Estevan López has over 30 years of water management and engineering experience. He recently joined Occam Engineers Inc., a New Mexico consulting engineering firm. Before that, Estevan served as Commissioner of the US Bureau of Reclamation from December 2014 until January 2017, directing all aspects of Reclamation business throughout the western United States. Reclamation is the largest wholesale water provider and the second largest hydropower producer in the United States. Estevan was Director of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (NMISC) from 2003-14, where he directed all aspects of NMISC business, doing all things necessary to investigate, protect, conserve and develop the waters of the state of New Mexico. While at the NMISC, Estevan served as New Mexico’s Governor Representative to the Colorado River Compact and as Commissioner to the Upper Colorado River Compact. While he was Commissioner of Reclamation and Director of the NMISC, Estevan was involved in many aspects of Colorado River water management. In particular, he was heavily involved in development of the 2007 Interim Shortage Guidelines and the 2012 Basin Study, as well as in the negotiation of US/MX Minutes 319 and 323 and Lower Basin drought contingency plans. Estevan received Bachelors of Science degrees in Petroleum Engineering and Chemistry from New Mexico Tech in Socorro, New Mexico in 1979. He is a licensed professional engineer in the state of New Mexico.


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Donald Baur, Esq.
Perkins Coie, Washington, DC
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John Bezdek, Esq.
Dentons, Washington, DC
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Bret Birdsong, Esq.
Professor of Law
University of Nevada, Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law
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James C. Brockmann, Esq.
Stein & Brockmann, Santa Fe, NM
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Thomas Buschatzke
Arizona Department of Water Resources Phoenix, AZ
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Lisa Darling
Executive Director
South Metro Water Supply Authority Greenwood Village, CO
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Gordon DePaoli, Esq.
Woodburn and Wedge, Reno, NV
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Karen Donovan, Esq.
Senior Deputy General Counsel
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
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Aaron A. Ferguson, Esq.
Somach Simmons & Dunn, Sacramento, CA
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Harriet Hageman, Esq.
Hageman Law, Cheyenne, WY
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David M. Ivester, Esq.
Briscoe, Ivester & Bazel, San Francisco, CA
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Ted Kowalski, Esq.
Senior Program Officer Colorado River Basin Initiative
Walton Family Foundation, Denver, CO
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Roger Marzulla, Esq.
Marzulla Law, Washington, DC
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Patricia Mulroy
Senior Fellow Climate Adaptation and Environmental Policy
University of Nevada, Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law
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Catherine Munson, Esq.
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton Washington, DC
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Kathy Robb, Esq.
Sive, Paget & Riesel, New York, NY
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Kate Ryan, Esq.
Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti, Boulder, CO
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Paul Taggart, Esq.
Taggart & Taggart, Carson City, NV
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Pamela Williams
Secretary’s Indian Water Rights Office US Department of the Interior, Washington, DC
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Wes Williams Jr., Esq.
Law Office of Wes Williams Jr., Schurz, NV