Ryan S. Bezerra (916) 446-4254 x106 rsb@bkslawfirm.com (he/him/his)
OverviewWater law approaches a calling for Ryan. Having grown up on a San Joaquin Valley dairy and cotton farm and relied on his family’s domestic well, Ryan has always appreciated water’s unique importance. As a kid, he listened to people talk about it almost every day and spent plenty of time in a pickup with his father as he “moved water” from field to field. It also didn’t hurt that his grandmother—who was an irrigation district’s secretary for 40 years—said that there would always be work in water. Since Ryan joined the firm in 1999, his practice has focused on surface-water and groundwater rights, municipal and agricultural water supplies and related environmental issues. He represents, among others, Alameda County Water District; Buena Vista Water Storage District; the Cities of Folsom, Roseville and Santa Cruz; Joseph Gallo Farms; Sonoma County Water Agency; Templeton Community Services District; Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District; and Yuba County Water Agency. After serving as general counsel to the Regional Water Authority—the JPA of the Sacramento region’s municipal water suppliers—for 10 years, he is now RWA’s special water counsel. Based on his experience at BKS Law Firm, Ryan authored West Academic’s treatise on California Water Law, which was published in 2022. Prior to joining BKS, Ryan was a business associate at the San Luis Obispo firm of Sinsheimer, Schiebelhut & Baggett, where, among other things, he registered the trademark for San Luis Sourdough bread with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.Practice AreasSurface-Water Rights, including practice before the State Water Resources Control Board Groundwater, including development and implementation of plans under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and representation in basin adjudications Environmental matters related to water rights, including Endangered Species Act matters Water-related legislative and administrative mattersGroups and AssociationsSenior Research Fellow, California Constitution Center, University of California, Berkeley School of Law Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), State Legislative and Legal Affairs CommitteesEducationJ.D., University of California, Berkeley School of Law, 1995. Order of the Coif (the top 10% of the class) B.A., University of California, Davis, 1992. Phi Beta Kappa. Citation for Outstanding Performance, Political Science DepartmentRepresentative MattersThe legal, administrative and policy matters in which Ryan has represented and advised clients include:
  • Yuba Water’s matters before the State Water Resources Control Board concerning the hydroelectric relicensing of its 361-megawatt Yuba River Development Project.
  • Sonoma Water’s water-right matters related to the proposed decommissioning of the Potter Valley Project, which conveys water from the Eel River to the Russian River.
  • The 15-day Phase 1 Kern River water-right hearing held by the State Board’s Administrative Hearings Office, in which Ryan was Buena Vista’s lead counsel.
  • The State Board’s ongoing Sacramento/Delta update to the Bay-Delta water quality control plan, including representing several agencies in the development of the proposed Healthy Rivers & Landscapes Agreements.
  • The State Board’s 2016-2018 hearing on the Department of Water Resources’ and the Bureau of Reclamation’s water-right petitions to implement a Delta conveyance tunnel, then known as California WaterFix.
  • Five groundwater adjudications, including representing berry and vegetable farmers in negotiating the Santa Maria basin adjudication’s settlement and the City of Camarillo in the ongoing adjudication of the Oxnard and Pleasant Valley basins.
  • Participating in the attorney group organized by ACWA that prepared the first version of the 2014 legislation that became the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
  • The drafting of the State Board’s 2012 general water quality permit for aquifer storage and recovery projects.
  • Advising and representing clients during the Legislature’s development of the 2009 comprehensive Bay-Delta legislation, which included the 20x2020 urban conversation legislation and the bond that became 2014’s Proposition 1.
For Ryan’s work on the 2009 Bay-Delta legislation and in the California WaterFix hearing, the Regional Water Authority twice named him its Water Statesperson of the Year.Publications and PresentationsCalifornia Water Law, West Academic (2022) The Ghost of Mrs. Herminghaus Rises: Unimpaired Flows for the Environment and the Constitutional Requirement of Reasonable Use, Cal. Water Law & Policy Reporter (Nov 1, 2017) There Will Be Water Flowing Underground: The New General Permit for Aquifer Storage and Recovery, Cal. Water Law & Policy Reporter (Oct 1, 2012) No Magic Wands: Lessons for California from Australia’s Water Law Changes, American Bar Association Water Resources Committee Newsletter (Sep 1, 2011) Reallocations and the Takings of Water, Cal. Water Law & Policy Reporter (Jul 1, 2008) Submerged in the Yuba River: The State Water Resources Control Board’s Prioritization of the Governor’s Commission’s Proposals, 36 McGeorge L. Rev. 331 (2005) Crying Over Spilled Coffee, Court Review (Jan 1, 1996)