Water issues are a paramount consideration for many businesses and public entities throughout the Pacific Northwest. Even the relatively wet west side of the Cascades, water supply is critically important. The winter rains also bring challenges related to water quality, drainage, and wetlands. On the east side of the Cascades, water supply is a preeminent issue for agriculture, cites, developers, and the natural environment.

Jordan Ramis PC is widely recognized as one of the Pacific Northwest’s select law firms with a significant water law and water rights practice. Our water law attorneys work with a broad spectrum of clients including landowners, developers, businesses, local governments, and financial institutions who contend with the complex legal environment surrounding state and federal water law matters. Whether we are dealing with Oregon water rights or Washington water rights, our long-established relationships with state and federal water management agencies allow us to effectively advocate for our clients’ needs and to develop lasting solutions. When necessary, we also serve as litigation counsel, protecting our clients’ water rights interests in proceedings before administrative bodies as well as state and federal courts.


  • Water and Natural Resources Litigation

    Water and natural resources litigation generally involves challenging or defending state or federal agency decisions. These cases involve administrative proceedings, judicial proceedings, or in many cases a unique blend of both.

    We typically use our established agency relationships and the administrative process to seek resolution without resorting to litigation. This is a more efficient and certain path to achieve our clients’ goals. Through this process we develop an administrative record in support of our desired outcomes. We also use the process to think several steps ahead as we develop our litigation strategy.

    When the administrative process cannot achieve our clients’ goals, we go to battle for our clients. We have years of experience in state and federal courts on water and natural resources matters. This includes state Court of Appeals and Supreme Court cases on water law issues of first impression as well as work in the federal trial court and appellate court system (including the U.S. Supreme Court) on complex water and natural resources cases.

    Our water and natural resources litigation services include:

    • Administrative agency relationship management to effectively communicate client concerns and strengths and weaknesses of agency positions
    • Administrative hearings and contested case proceedings before the Oregon Office of Administrative Hearings and the Washington Pollution Control Hearing Board
    • Administrative appeals
    • Alternative dispute resolution, including negotiation, mediation, and arbitration
    • Appeals before state and federal courts
    • Complex litigation involving interpretation and enforcement of federal and state water quality statutes and regulations relating to issues of Clean Water Act permitting, contamination of public waterways, point source and nonpoint source discharges, and TMDL development.
    • Drainage litigation between private parties
    • Endangered Species Act litigation
    • Judicial review proceedings related to agency actions
    • Trial court proceedings before state and federal courts
    • Timber trespass litigation
    • Using and managing technical experts
    • Water rights adjudication proceedings
    • Wetlands compliance litigation
    • Witness preparation and testimony coordination
  • Water Quality

    Clean water is a shared community value in the Pacific Northwest. Public entities have a responsibility to protect water supplies and provide safe drinking water. Agricultural entities need a reliable, safe supply of water to irrigate crops. Other private entities have a legal obligation to treat, manage, and discharge wastewaters in compliance with water pollution laws. Our team is experienced in all aspects of federal, state, and local laws and programs focused on protecting the quality of our region’s water resources. We assist clients in navigating the regulatory programs under the federal Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Public Health Service Act, and analogous state statutes and programs. Some of our lawyers have come from the regulator community, many have long relationships with such regulators, and all are experienced in navigating the complex framework of such regulations.

    Whether the resource of interest is surface water, groundwater, stormwater, drinking water, or industrial wastewater, our attorneys and staff have experience in matters related to protecting, treating, permitting, preserving, and conserving the resource in accord with all laws and applicable management practices.

    Our water quality services include:

    • Construction stormwater general permit issues
    • Endangered Species Act compliance
    • Clean Water Act compliance advice for permitting and enforcement
    • Instream water quality compliance
    • Land-based wastewater application
    • National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting, renewal, and monitoring
    • Policy work on the federal and state level related to water quality statutes and regulations
    • Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) permitting, renewal, and monitoring for releases from wastewater treatment systems
    • Regulatory interpretation and compliance with federal, state, and local environmental regulations
    • Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) compliance
    • SDWA interpretation and application related to state and federal loans for water system construction
    • Stormwater permitting
    • Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) development, processes, and compliance
    • Wellhead protection issues
  • Water Rights

    Water supply and water rights determine whether communities can grow, agriculture can prosper, and industry can function. In the Pacific Northwest, the right to use water is regulated by the states of Oregon and Washington. In addition, the federal government often plays a role in its administration of water storage reservoirs administered by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers. This water supply system is complex and requires legal advice that is based on years of experience with the law, science, politics, and regulators. Jordan Ramis PC offers its clients that experience, combined with a deep understanding of the practical issues our clients face when confronting water rights issues.

    Our water rights services include:

    • Army Corps of Engineers project rights and contracts
    • Bureau of Reclamation project rights and contracts
    • Deschutes basin mitigation program compliance
    • Drought relief and preparation
    • Intergovernmental agreements concerning administration of water sources and related facilities
    • Irrigation district water rights management and compliance
    • Municipal permit extensions
    • Policy work before OWRD and Washington Department of Ecology
    • Public water system regulations
    • Regulatory compliance advice related to application of the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and their state statutory counterparts
    • Tribal water rights settlement processes
    • Water district water rights management and compliance
    • Water facility and well sharing agreements
    • Water Management and Conservation Plans
    • Water rights acquisitions, sales, and leases
    • Water rights adjudications
    • Water rights audits and appraisals
    • Water rights permitting
    • Water rights transfers
  • Wetlands and Drainage

    The attorneys at Jordan Ramis advise public and private clients in the complex arena of wetlands regulation, including mitigation requirements, cultural resource and wildlife concerns, project permitting, and enforcement matters under the federal Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, and Oregon’s Removal/Fill law. These issues have the potential to impact anything from large aggregate mining operations, to commercial developments, to smaller projects. We help our clients navigate the federal, state, and local permitting processes to determine jurisdiction, assess the scope of potentially implicated wetlands, and assemble a team of experts to help develop compliance and mitigation strategies that are good for business and good for the environment.

    Drainage law issues are also commonplace—especially on the west side of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington. Each state has its own approach to drainage issues, meaning that clients need legal counsel with state-specific experience. Our firm has that experience which, combined with our real property and construction law practices, allows us to provide real-world solutions to challenging drainage issues.

    Our wetlands and drainage law services include:

    • Cultural resource and wildlife issues
    • Enforcement actions under the federal Clean Water Act and Rivers and Harbors Act
    • Enforcement actions under the State of Oregon Department of State Lands’ Removal/Fill law
    • Stormwater management issues
    • Wetlands permitting, regulation, compliance, and mitigation under CWA Section 404 and Section 403 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of State Lands, Department of Ecology, and local governments


Steven Shropshire Shareholder



U.S. Department of Labor issues new guidance for the ever-evolving ‘employee or independent contractor?’ determination

March 1, 2024

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE OREGON ASSOCIATION OF NUSERIES. FIRST PUBLISHED IN FEBRUARY-MARCH ISSUE OF DIGGER On January 10, 2024, the U.S. Department of Labor (Labor Department) published new guidance for determining whether a worker is an employee or an…


The Mounting Regulatory and Technical Issues of PFAS in the Water

May 5, 2023

Jordan Ramis Shareholder Maureen Bayer and Maul Foster Alongi consultants Erik Naylor and Courtney Savoie presented: “PFAS: Regulatory and Technical Essentials” online April 26, 2023. This webinar focused on the current and developing regulatory and technical landscape of per- and…


Water right transfers: The future of water allocation in Oregon

March 17, 2023

In the March 2023 issue of Oregon Association of Nurseries’ Digger Magazine, Jordan Ramis Shareholder Steve Shropshire discusses Oregon water right transfers as the means for agricultural and other water users to acquire new water rights. Click here to read.



February 2, 2023

In a January 30, 2023, letter to President Biden, 25 governors requested the new definition of “Waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”) proposed in rulemaking by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) be delayed until the U.S. Supreme Court issues its ruling in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency.


“Managing Corporate Water Footprints”, Today’s General Counsel

September 20, 2022

The topic of climate change is putting pressure on companies to operate in an environmentally sustainable manner.


EPA Seeks to Overhaul Clean Water Act 401 Certification Rule

August 8, 2022

On June 1, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator signed a proposed rule to change the Clean Water Act’s section 401 certification process.


EPA to Undertake Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification Rulemaking in the Wake of U.S. Supreme Court Decision

May 18, 2022

Section 401 of the Clean Water Act provides that a federal agency may not issue a permit or license to conduct any activity that could result in a discharge into waters of the United States unless a Section 401 water quality certification is issued, or unless certification is waived.


Understanding the new climate rules

March 2, 2022

The Climate Protection Program (CPP), Oregon’s new regulatory program starting in 2022, aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, achieve co-benefits from the reduction of other non-greenhouse gas air contaminants and improve the welfare of communities of color, tribal communities, communities experiencing lower incomes and rural communities. Attorney Marika E. Sitz explores the mechanics of the CPP and its potential impact on nurseries and other businesses in a recent article published by Digger Magazine.


State Authority in Water Quality Certification

November 26, 2019

By Elizabeth A. Rosso, Attorney This article was originally published in the November 22, 2019 edition of the Daily Journal of Commerce Oregon. Suppose you want to develop a parcel of land containing a wetland created by water running off…


Water Rights Considerations in Land Purchases

April 17, 2019

By Steve Shropshire, Attorney This article originally appeared in the April 3, 2019 edition of the Cascade Business News. In Oregon, the value of rural property often depends on a reliable supply of water. Prospective purchasers are wise to keep…



Building Industry Association of Clark County

July 2, 2021

Jordan Ramis has a community partnership mentality. This, combined with all of the knowledge and information they had on the issues surrounding local development constraints and stormwater issues in Washington, made it a natural choice to hire the firm to take on the appeal for us.

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Oregon Association of Nurseries

July 2, 2021

Through use of a legal access program, Jordan Ramis provides members with up to 30 minutes per month to ask questions or, if necessary, employ the firm’s services for larger issues.

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Come Together Now

July 2, 2021

Our water service group assisted our client’s development of a strategic vision for a broad-based water policy coalition, including the identification of important stakeholders.

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Dividing the Waters

July 2, 2021

Our water services group worked with the Oregon Department of Water Resources and interest groups to develop, lobby, and pass Senate Bill 200 (2013) enabling landowners such as our client to split ownership of a shared water rights permit.

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Made in the Shade

July 1, 2021

Our client, a market-based conservation organization, was developing a freshwater environment ecosystem services thermal credit trading program and sought our advice to identify and design around the legal components of the program.

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