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Michael K. Foy – Member


Michael K. Foy



  • Santa Clara University School of Law
    J.D., 2011, magna cum laude,
    Order of the Coif
    Santa Clara Law Review, Senior Articles Editor (2010-2011)
  • Loyola Marymount University
    B.A., 2008, cum laude


Bar & Court Admissions

  • State Bar of Arizona
  • State Bar of California
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States District Court for the District of Arizona
  • United States District Courts for the Central, Northern and Eastern Districts of California
  • United States Court of Federal Claims

Michael Foy practices in the areas of water, environmental, and natural resources law.

As a member of SLW’s Water Rights and Natural Resources Group, Mr. Foy is actively involved in both of Arizona’s pending general stream adjudications (Gila River and Little Colorado River), which collectively encompass more than 25,000 water rights claimants.  In addition to litigation matters, Mr. Foy’s water rights practice also includes representing clients in connection with water rights transfers, obtaining necessary approvals from state and federal administrative agencies, and conducting water rights analysis in real estate transactions.

Mr. Foy’s environmental practice includes representing clients in disputes arising under the major federal hazardous wastes statutes, including CERCLA and RCRA, as well as WQARF and other state counterpart laws. Mr. Foy has extensive experience representing alleged responsible parties in state and federal Superfund sites throughout Arizona and California. Mr. Foy also advises clients on matters involving the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and other laws affecting the ability to use natural resources.

Prior to joining SLW, Mr. Foy practiced in the Water Law group of a California firm where he represented water suppliers and water users on a range of issues, including groundwater adjudications, transfer and exchange agreements, service area annexations, and compliance with State Water Resources Control Board regulations.

Representative Professional Experience

Water Law

  • Routinely counsels clients in all aspects of federal Reclamation law, including the laws governing the transfer and use of Reclamation water and the impact of related state water laws on the rights to Reclamation water.
  • Served as lead trial counsel for a major Arizona water supplier in contested case to adjudicate the quantity of the United States’ federal reserved rights to surface and groundwater for the Fort Huachuca Army installation.
  • Representing applicant in administrative appeal of ADWR’s denial of application to sever and transfer appropriative water rights.
  • Represented major water supplier in two federal lawsuits and related Ninth Circuit appeal regarding rights to withdraw water from over two dozen wells in metropolitan Phoenix.
  • Represented irrigation district in U.S. Court of Federal Claims lawsuit challenging excessive assessments for operation and maintenance of dam and related water supply infrastructure.
  • Obtained judicial validation of Central Arizona Project water supply contract on behalf of power plant operator.
  • Currently representing major water supplier in contested cases to adjudicate the federal water rights of the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation.
  • Represented major water supplier in six-week trial of the Bureau of Land Management’s federal reserved water right claims for the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.
  • Extensive experience counseling water users in the transactional context, including water rights due diligence and risk assessment based on applicable conservation requirements.
  • Represented pistachio grower in comprehensive adjudication of all rights to pump percolating groundwater in California’s Antelope Valley.
  • Defended operators of underground water storage facility in action brought by nearby landowners for alleged lowering of groundwater table.
  • Assists developers in securing water and wastewater service from private water companies, municipalities, and sanitary districts.

Environmental Law

  • Defended industrial gases manufacturer in multi-party CERCLA cost recovery action seeking approximately $40 million in claimed response costs for groundwater contamination in metropolitan Phoenix.
  • Extensive experience counseling clients in connection with WQARF remediation process, including ongoing representation of clients at the East Central Phoenix, West Van Buren Area, and Lake Havasu Avenue sites.
  • Advised water supplier in application process for research and recovery permit under Section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act.
  • Represented power plant operator in administrative proceeding and related federal lawsuit involving NEPA and SMCRA challenge of operating permit issued to the plant’s exclusive coal supplier.
  • Regularly advises clients in all facets of Superfund practice, including EPA information requests, negotiation and implementation of consent decrees, and cost recovery actions under CERCLA Sections 107 and 113.
  • Regularly advices clients on regulatory and legislative developments associated with emerging contaminants such as PFAS and 1,4-dioxane.
  • Conducts environmental compliance audits on behalf of water and power suppliers and assists clients with obtaining protections under state and federal self-disclosure and audit privilege provisions.
  • Extensive environmental insurance coverage experience, including obtaining coverage for claim against asphalt manufacturer for coal tar release and claim against service station operator for gasoline release.
  • Extensive experience counseling clients regarding the regulations applicable to Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) and defending clients in administrative enforcement actions related to leaking USTs.
  • Regularly provides environmental counseling in the transactional context, including obtaining prospective purchaser agreements, effectuating transfer of environmental permits, and conducting environmental due diligence investigations.
  • Regularly counsels clients in connection with obtaining, amending, and transferring water quality permits, including individual and general Aquifer Protection Permits, AZPDES Permits, and authority to construct permits.
  • Representing association of Arizona water and power suppliers in NEPA challenge to management plan for Glen Canyon Dam.

Honors and Awards

  • The Best Lawyers in America, Environmental Law (2023)

Publications and Presentations

  • PFAS: What They Mean for Arizona, Arizona Water Law Conference (August 2022)
  • What’s New in the Gila River Adjudication?, State Bar of Arizona Environmental and Natural Resources Law Section (March 2022)
  • Arizona: An Introduction to Water Rights, Chambers & Partners (2021)
  • Avoiding Environmental Liability in Real Property Transactions, Kern Business Journal, at 34 (March 2015)
  • The Contours of the “Duty to Refer” in Today’s Specialized Legal Landscape, The Bencher, at 10 (August 2011)
  • Apportioning Cleanup Costs in the New Era of Joint and Several CERCLA Liability, 51 Santa Clara L. Rev. 625 (2011)

Memberships & Affiliations

  • American Bar Association, Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Law Section
  • State Bar of Arizona, Environmental and Natural Resources Section
  • State Bar of California, Environmental Law Section

Community Involvement

  • Mentorship Initiative for Sustainability law, Attorney Mentor (2020-Present)
  • Kem County Mock Trial Program, Attorney Coach (2013-2015)
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