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Nossaman LLP

Alfred E. Smith, II


T 213.612.7831
F 213.612.7801
777 South Figueroa Street, 34th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Alfred Smith, Chair of Nossaman's Water Practice Group, is a recognized expert in water and environmental law.  A graduate of the Harvard Law School, he has successfully litigated multiple water right adjudications, and he has secured more than $750 million worth of contamination settlements in favor of his clients.  

He is a trusted advisor on matters involving water rights, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”), Colorado River and Pueblo rights, water resource development, contamination remediation, groundwater adjudications, water transfers, recycled water, desalination, conjunctive use, climate change, and environmental regulatory compliance.  Mr. Smith has also developed Urban Water Management Plans, water supply assessments and environmental impact reports for a wide range of residential and commercial developments. 

Mr. Smith has successfully litigated at all levels.  His accomplishments include helping negotiate one of California's largest water contamination mitigation settlements in favor of his clients and winning a unanimous decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. 

He is an appointed member of the Association of California Water Agencies' (ACWA) Legal Affairs Committee.  He was listed as one of Los Angeles's Top 100 Lawyers in 2009 by the Los Angeles Business Journal and has been selected to the Rising Stars and Super Lawyers lists every year since 2008. In 2016, the Los Angeles Business Journal named Mr. Smith one of the “Most Influential Minority Lawyers” in the Los Angeles region.

Representative Work

  • Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster.  General Counsel to the Watermaster on all aspects of operation and management of the vast San Gabriel Groundwater Basin.  Successfully negotiated a landmark $600 million water quality settlement with eight companies responsible for contaminating the Basin’s water supplies.  Worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in developing remediation plans and treatment facilities for the treatment of contaminated soil and groundwater.  Also advised client in connection with water rights, water resource development, climate change and greenhouse gas emissions issues.
  • Rainbow Municipal Water District. General Counsel to this municipal water district on all aspects of its operations involving the delivery of water and sewer services to an 80 square mile area in Northeast San Diego County.  Representation includes advice on water rights, supply, transfers and exchanges, water quality management and compliance, Urban Water Management Plans, litigation, Propositions 218 and 26, real estate, labor and employment, joint powers agreements, the formation and operation of community facilities districts, and proceedings before LAFCO.
  • Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency.  Representing this local government agency in the development and implementation of Groundwater Sustainability Plans under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in multiple groundwater basins throughout Ventura County and related litigation.  
  • Castaic Lake Water Agency, Newhall County Water District, Valencia Water Company, and Santa Clarita Water Company.   Represented four water agencies in a federal action to force a cleanup of perchlorate contamination in the Santa Clarita Valley.  Obtained summary judgment against defendants establishing their liability for cleanup costs in a decision reported at 272 F.Supp.2d 1053 (2003).  The settlement agreement provided the agencies with an estimated $100 million for cleanup.  Worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in developing water quality remediation plans and treatment facilities for the treatment of contaminated soil and groundwater.
  • Association of California Water Agencies ("ACWA").  Represented ACWA, the National Association of Water Companies, the California Water Association, the California State Association of Counties and several other parties before the United States Supreme Court in U.S. v. Atlantic Research, a CERCLA cost recovery action.  Obtained a unanimous decision from the Supreme Court in favor of these clients.
  • Olivenhain Municipal Water District.  General Counsel to this municipal water district on all aspects of its operations including the provision of water, wastewater services, recycled water, hydroelectricity, and operation of the Elfin Forest recreational reserve.  Successfully represented client regarding dispute with regional water supplier regarding potential water transfers.  Participated in regulatory proceedings and development of legal strategy.  Engaged in mediation with other parties resulting in a $13.5 million settlement for client.
  • Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.  General Counsel to this public agency on all aspects of the $1.6 billion project that will extend light rail service from Pasadena to Montclair.  Representation includes advising on such issues as the Brown Act, Public Records Act, ethics and political law compliance, CEQA, public contracting, construction claims and disputes, employment, eminent domain, environmental issues and litigation.
  • Central Basin Municipal Water District.  General Counsel to this municipal water district on all aspects of its operations involving the delivery of wholesale imported water to a population of more than 2 million people throughout 24 cities.  Advising client on the delivery of recycled water for municipal, commercial and industrial uses to the District's customers which include investor-owned utilities, mutual water companies, government agencies and private companies.  
  • City of Ontario.  Representing the City with respect to water rights, recycled water and contamination issues in the Chino Basin.  Represented the City in the development of the Chino Basin desalination facilities which treat and produce 14 million gallons of water per day.  Also advising the City on the Phase 3 expansion of the desalter facilities, an estimated $130 million project that will provide 10.5 million gallons of water per day for 1.5 million people.
  • Upper Los Angeles River Area (ULARA) Watermaster.  Special counsel to the Watermaster on the full range of water issues relating to the ULARA, which provides approximately 15 percent of the City of Los Angeles' total water supply needs.  Successfully represented the Watermaster in litigation concerning chromium VI contamination in the San Fernando Valley and in preventing the waste of water valued at over $10 million.  Prepared a comprehensive legal opinion confirming the City of Los Angeles’ Pueblo water rights dating back to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.  The legal opinion was used to defeat a secession attempt by the San Fernando Valley.
  • Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company.  Served on the appellate team that successfully litigated water rights in the Mojave River System before the California Supreme Court.  Confirmed client's water rights valued at over $50 million.  Advised client in the preparation of its Urban Water Management Plan, Integrated Regional Water Management Plans, and SB 610 water supply assessments for major commercial developments.  Also advising on rights to reclaimed water discharged to the Mojave River in a matter before the State Water Resources Control Board.  Representation includes advising on Safe Drinking Water Act standards, land and water resource development, and handling water rights transfers.
  • City of Santa Monica.  Served as water rights counsel to the City in groundwater litigation involving MTBE contamination in the Charnock Basin. Matter settled favorably for the client.
  • California Water Association.  Assisted with the preparation of a template joint powers agreement for use in streamlining the formation of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, including legal research regarding governance issues.
  • Cities of Pismo Beach, Grover Beach, Arroyo Grande and the Oceano Community Services District.  Successfully represented these public water suppliers in the water rights adjudication of the Santa Maria Valley Groundwater Basin.  Defeated landowners' claims that their water rights were superior to clients' rights, and prevailed on clients' cross-claims by obtaining declaratory relief and a physical solution to manage the groundwater basin in the future.  The litigation involved more than 1,000 parties.
  • Standard Pacific Homes.  Assisted client with land use entitlements, environmental due diligence and SB 221 water supply assessments for large residential developments.
  • Southern California Edison.  Advised client on its water rights associated with the successful sale of its 26 hydroelectric plants throughout California.  Reviewed documentation from as early as 1887, including contracts, notices of appropriation and judgments relating to water rights associated with each project.  Successfully represented client in a multi-party water rights litigation involving several creeks, lakes, and hydroelectric facilities in Mono County. 

Awards & Honors

Selected to the Super Lawyers list for 2013-2018

“Most Influential Minority Lawyers” honoree by the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2016

Selected to the Rising Stars list for 2008-2012

Alfred E. Smith, II
Alfred E. Smith, II



J.D., Harvard Law School, 1996

B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1993, Phi Beta Kappa



U.S. Supreme Court

Professional Affiliations

Association of California Water Agencies, Appointed Member of the Legal Affairs Committee

American Bar Association, Water Resources Committee

Association of Groundwater Agencies, Pro Bono Special Counsel

Southern California Water Committee Inc.

American, California State and Los Angeles County Bar Associations, Environmental Sections

Triedstone Church, Board of Trustees

Water Education Foundation Alumni Association

Awards & Honors

Selected to the Super Lawyers list for 2013-2018

“Most Influential Minority Lawyers” honoree by the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2016

Selected to the Rising Stars list for 2008-2012

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