Following a national search to select the agency’s top legal officer, the San Diego County Water Authority today named Mark J. Hattam as general counsel; he will begin March 14. The Board of Directors approved Hattam’s terms of employment during its regular monthly meeting.
Hattam is a partner in the San Diego office of Allen Matkins, a California-based law firm with approximately 200 attorneys specializing in real estate, litigation, labor, tax, land use and business law. His practice consists of litigation in state and federal courts regarding water rights, commercial disputes, real property, insurance, environmental regulations and other issues, as well as administrative hearing practice. Hattam graduated with honors from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.
He has represented major institutional and public-sector clients in complex civil litigation, including water transfers and water rates. In 2015, Hattam served as outside counsel for the Water Authority, successfully defending the agency against a claim that it failed to account for the environmental impacts of its long-term water supply plan. Hattam also represented the Imperial Irrigation District as trial counsel in 2013, securing validation of all environmental compliance components of the historic 2003 Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement, a cornerstone of the Water Authority’s long-term water supply diversification strategy.
As general counsel, Hattam will advise the Water Authority’s Board and executive staff on a range of legal matters, including the agency’s high-profile litigation over the legality of rates set by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The Water Authority is the San Diego region’s wholesale water supplier, providing imported supplies and desalinated seawater to 24 member agencies that serve 3.2 million residents and support a $218 billion economy.
“Mark rose to the top of our list because of his extensive knowledge of the intricate legal issues regarding water supplies, transfers and rates in California – combined with his expertise at both trial court level and the appellate court,” said Mark Weston, chair of the Water Authority’s Board. “He’s the perfect fit for the Water Authority; he knows our issues very well, and will hit the ground running. I am confident that he will be a huge asset to our efforts to secure a safe and reliable water supply.”
Hattam reports directly to the Board.
“It’s a privilege and an honor to join the Water Authority, which performs a vital role supporting this region’s economy and quality of life,” Hattam said. “It’s both personally and professionally rewarding to continue the Water Authority’s legacy of leadership as a visionary steward of San Diego County’s most precious natural resource.”
Water Authority General Manager Maureen Stapleton welcomed Hattam. “We have relied on Mark’s acumen on critical issues in the past,” Stapleton said, “and I look forward to working with him on a daily basis to address the many challenges we will face in the years ahead.”