Janet K. Goldsmith

Ms. Goldsmith's practice emphasizes all aspects of water law, including water rights, water transfers and water quality issues. She also handles environmental law issues related to the use of water resources, including state and federal endangered species law, habitat conservation planning, public trust issues and state and federal environmental regulations.

Legal Experience

Ms. Goldsmith represents public agencies and water companies as well as private entities at both the administrative and judicial levels. In practice for more than 30 years, Ms. Goldsmith has dealt with numerous water law issues over the years and was involved in the landmark case declaring the public trust limitation on California water rights. In her capacity as counsel, she advises and represents clients in a variety of matters related to water and environmental law, including:

  • Evaluation and protection of water rights, including:
    • Analyzing the validity, scope and potential limitations of water rights for landowners
    • Defending water rights against loss through challenge by others or through administrative action
    • Evaluating water rights in complex real property acquisitions
  • Negotiation of water transfers and water sharing agreements
  • Assistance with water development projects
  • Negotiation of Central Valley Project contracts
  • Advice on state and federal regulatory requirements pertaining to:
    • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
    • National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA)
    • Endangered Species Act (ESA)
    • Clean Water Act

Some of the key recent trends that Ms. Goldsmith closely monitors and counsels her clients on include:

  • Changes in the definition of groundwater
  • Expansion of NPDES requirements under Clean Water Act
  • CEQA interpretation and modifications
  • Developments in water transfer law
  • Growing integration of water issues and land-use planning

Practice Examples

An experienced negotiator and litigator, Ms. Goldsmith has handled many legal matters and cases on behalf of clients. Following are a few examples that demonstrate her experience:

  • Endangered species issues -Ms. Goldsmith has worked with both state and federal agencies dealing with steelhead, salmon and other species of concern in central and northern California streams. One of the major projects she has been involved in is the development of a habitat conservation plan that protects San Luis Obispo County’s water rights as well as the steelhead fishery resources.
  • Groundwater adjudications -Ms. Goldsmith has considerable trial experience with groundwater matters. She successfully represented the San Benito County Water District in a case that involved protecting groundwater levels in the San Juan Basin-levels that were achieved through the District’s importation of supplemental water supplies. Other cases include defending a public water purveyor in the Lompoc Basin against claims that its activities contributed to groundwater quality degradation and representing San Luis Obispo County in major groundwater adjudication.
  • Water transfers -Her experience includes handling matters related to the transportation of water through state and federal facilities in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta. She represents Northern California water purveyors in the State Water Resources Control Board’s Bay/Delta hearings to allocate responsibility for meeting water quality objectives in the Delta.
  • Water projects -Ms. Goldsmith has also worked with water contractors on state and federal water projects, including the Central Valley Project and Newlands Project, including successful advocacy in the United States Supreme Court case, Nevada v. United States.

Professional Activities & Affiliations

Ms. Goldsmith speaks at conferences on water rights including public trust doctrine issues, and water supply matters. She has also published articles on these topics. Her specific activities and affiliations include:

  • Member, State Legislative Committee, Association of California Water Agencies
  • Member, Sacramento County Bar Association
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, California State Bar Association
  • Former co-editor, California Water Law and Policy Reporter
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Rated Attorney

Academic Background

J.D. University of California, Davis, 1975

B.A. University of California, Davis, 1970