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Sarah Foley is a water rights litigator and water supply planning attorney. A partner in the Environmental Law & Natural Resources practice group of Best Best & Krieger LLP, Sarah represents both public and private sector clients on a broad range of water law and policy matters, such as surface and groundwater rights issues, water transactions and conveyance, and water supply analysis and management. Sarah is a managing attorney in the Ventura River Watershed Adjudication for lead party City of Ventura. She is also part of the teams that successfully obtained court approval of stipulated judgments to manage the critically overdrafted Borrego Valley and Los Osos Valley groundwater basins. She has worked on groundwater adjudications in Paso Robles, Antelope Valley, Santa Maria and the Chino Basin. She is managing special counsel for the State Water Contractors’ Dry Year Transfer Program.

Sarah also assists public agencies with water supply planning, water transactions, water rights and sufficiency analyses, and navigating the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. She routinely counsels clients regarding the legal requirements of preparing Urban Water Management Plans and Water Shortage Contingency Plans, Written Verifications and Water Supply Assessments under SB 221 and SB 610, and water supply analyses under the California Environmental Quality Act. Sarah also drafts water rights opinions and negotiates contracts involving water supplies.

In representing the public sector, Sarah serves as special water counsel for the cities of Ventura, Lincoln, El Paso de Robles and Santa Maria; the counties of Los Angeles and Tuolumne; State Water Contractors, Desert Water Agency, Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency and San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency. She also serves as special water counsel for the Borrego Water District, Citrus Heights Water District, Coachella Valley Water District, Cucamonga Valley Water District, Helix Water District, Moulton Niguel Water District, the Municipal Water District of Orange County, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Santa Margarita Water District and Western Municipal Water District; North Tahoe Public Utilities District, Lake Arrowhead Community Services District, Los Osos Community Services District; and numerous other cities, counties and special districts.

In representing the private sector, Sarah advises property owners and developers throughout California, helping them to understand, utilize and protect their water rights.

Sarah’s specific areas of experience include:

  • Groundwater and surface water adjudications
  • Groundwater rights and management
  • Surface water rights and management
  • Water resource litigation
  • Negotiation of water rights agreements
  • Water rights due diligence, planning, and reporting
  • Water transactions and transfers
  • Water supply planning
  • Wastewater and recycled water

As a respected leader in the field, Sarah regularly presents on water issues and has written numerous articles about groundwater, surface water and California’s droughts. She is admitted to the U.S. District Court for the Central and Southern districts of California.

Prior to becoming an attorney, Sarah served in AmeriCorps as an early intervention literacy tutor for at-risk students. After law school, Sarah served as a briefing attorney to Justice Medina of the Texas Supreme Court. Sarah and her husband are both originally from Texas and enjoy spending time with their daughters.

Thought Leadership


  • “Historic Groundwater Legislation Bills Awaiting Governor Approval,” BBKnowledge, Sept. 8, 2014
  • “Water District Shorted by Federal Government May Recover Expectancy Damages,” BBKnowledge, Aug. 7, 2014


  • "Groundwater Adjudications in the SGMA Era: The Agency Perspective," Argent Communications Group Annual California Water Law & Policy Conference, June 9, 2023
  • "SGMA and Groundwater Rights: To Adjudicate or Not to Adjudicate," BB&K Webinar, Feb. 20, 2020
  • "Groundwater Production Allocations Under SGMA," Association of California Water Agencies Fall Conference & Exhibition, Dec. 4, 2019
  • "Land Use Planning, Water Supply Planning and SGMA," BB&K Webinar, Nov. 8, 2019
  • "Our Thirsty State," Association of Women in Water, Energy and Environment’s Conference, Nov. 16, 2017
  • Presenter, American Council of Engineering Companies' Groundwater Sustainability Seminar, Jan. 28, 2016
  • "The Challanges in Implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act," American Groundwater Trust's Groundwater Law Program, May 15, 2015
  • "Sustainable Groundwater Management Act," San Diego Bar Association Environmental and Land Use Law Sections Program, May 5, 2015
  • “Proactive Water Management for Schools,” School Energy Coalition – Spring Forum, Mar. 23, 2015
  • Water Legislation Panel – "The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Law Review Symposium, Water: Crisis, Law and Culture," University of La Verne College of Law, Mar. 20, 2015
  • "All Things Groundwater: From Local Regulation to CEQA," Northern California County Counsels' Conference, July 24, 2014

Education & Admissions

Southern Methodist University
J.D., cum laude
University of Texas at Austin
B.A., with highest honors
Bar Admissions



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