Robert D. Anderson

Previously a co-chair of our natural resources, energy and environmental practice group, Rob Anderson is one of the Southwest’s most recognized water attorneys, focusing primarily on water rights and water resource issues, as well as water quality, wetlands, and endangered species. Water, the lifeblood of Arizona, is essential to the State’s future growth and Rob has been deeply involved in the cutting edge issues involving water that will shape that future. Rob routinely represents development and mining interests in securing sufficient supplies, addressing water policy issues and complying with regulatory requirements affecting to the use of water. In the Clean Water Act arena, he advises a wide range of clients on environmental and water issues, including Section 404 (wetlands) permits, plus compliance issues associated with residential development, mining and industrial concerns and renewable energy projects.

Rob’s passion for history fueled his initial interest in water law, which is inseparable from the history of the new American west.  He was initially drawn to our firm because of the reputation of water rights attorney Jim Johnson, then a director at Fennemore Craig, one of the key negotiators of the landmark 1980 Groundwater Management Act, which paved the way for the growth and prosperity that Arizona now enjoys. Speaking of 1980, Rob points to the Arizona Department of Water Resources’ favorite statistic - that by moving from agriculture to more urban uses, along with more efficient water usage, our region now uses about the same amount of water we did back then despite our economy and population growing exponentially. However, as issues such as climate change and global warming compound the effects of a decades-old drought on the Colorado River system, it has now become more imperative to look at developing new resources, including ocean and groundwater desalination techniques. Within this context, significant social and political issues will continue to arise as the critical impact of water on sustainability is only magnified by the needs of the next generation.

Outside of work as a water attorney, Rob enjoys spending time with his family, cheering on the Minnesota Vikings and Twins, and he is also an avid guitar player, counting the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Neil Young and the Clash among his classic rock heroes.


  • J.D., cum laude, University of Minnesota Law School
  • B.A., summa cum laude, Concordia College
  • Member, Minnesota Law Review, 1984-1987

Areas of Practice

We have a long history in natural resources, energy and environmental law.


  • Water Law

Representative Cases

Environmental Matters

  • Provided strategic oversight and guidance in conjunction with wetlands permitting of large, complex projects over the past twenty-five years, including over 20 projects involving master-planned communities larger than 2,000 acres, a major new "green fields" mining facility in Southern Arizona, several mine expansions, renewable energy projects, and numerous smaller permitting efforts involving residential, industrial and commercial developments. These involved addressing compliance with NEPA, endangered species and cultural resource requirements.
  • Provided guidance to regional and national trade associations on development and implementation of wetlands and Clean Water Act policies, including filing comments on rulemaking initiatives and major general permitting developments (including 404 nationwide and NPDES stormwater).
  • Routinely represent regulated business concerns with maintaining compliance with Clean Water Act regulatory requirements.

Water Matters

  • Represented development interests in the stakeholder process associated with the Central Arizona Water Conservation District's Plan of Operation for the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (2013-2015), Project ADD Water (2007-11), participated in the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association's sustainability initiative (2007-08), commented on revisions to the assured water supply rules (2005-06), and participated in the stakeholder process leading to the adoption of the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District Plan of Operation (2003-04) and Third Management Plan (1998-99).
  • Routinely advises and assists developers in securing assured water supply approvals for master-planned communities and residential developments.
  • Represented mining interest in developing legislation to allow for accrual of long-term storage credits (2012).
  • Led water due diligence efforts on purchase of large master-planned communities (2010, 2014), merchant power generation facilities (2010, 2012), and assets of a large development company (2010).
  • Routinely represents water providers and groundwater users in maintaining compliance with Groundwater Code conservation and user requirements.
  • Represented major master-planned community developers in developing and implementing a regional groundwater study for the Hassayampa Basin (2003-present).
  • Assisted development team in preparing and participating in auction of effluent credits by the Town of Prescott Valley (2007) and sale of extinguishment credits from the bankruptcy estate of a builder (2009).

Awards and Honors

  • Best Lawyers in America®, Lawyer of the Year, Natural Resources Law, 2020
  • Best Lawyers in America®, Animal Law, 2017-2020
  • Best Lawyers in America®, Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law, Water Law, 2007-2020
  • Chambers USA, Leading Lawyers for Business, 2007-2019
  • Best Lawyers in America®, Lawyer of the Year, Environmental Law, 2015, 2018
  • Arizona's Top Lawyers, AZ Business Magazine, 2013-2014
  • Southwest Super Lawyers®, Environmental, Energy & Natural Resources, 2007-2009, 2011-2014
  • Best Lawyers®, Lawyer of the Year, Natural Resources Law, 2013
  • AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated (the highest rating available), by Martindale-Hubbell

Articles And Presentations

  • Speaker, "What's New in Water," Fennemore Craig Environmental and Natural Resources Seminar Series, 2018
  • Speaker, "Arizona Water Rights, Sales, and Transfers," Lorman Webinar, April 2016
  • Speaker, "Back to the Future: The New Rule on Clean Water Act Jurisdiction," Arizona Hydrological Society, 2015
  • Speaker, "Federal Land Use Laws: The Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and National Historic Preservation Act," Arizona State University W.P. Carey School of Business Masters of Real Estate Development Program, 2012, 2014, 2015
  • Speaker, "The New Rule on Clean Water Act Jurisdiction: What Does it Mean?" Fennemore Craig Environmental and Natural Resources Seminar Series, 2015
  • Speaker, "A Step Back in Time: The Proposed Rule on Clean Water Act Jurisdiction," Fennemore Craig Environmental and Natural Resources Seminar Series, 2014
  • Panelist, "Proposed Rule on Clean Water Act Jurisdiction," Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce Agriculture, Water and Environment Committee, 2014
  • Author, "Federal Environmental Laws Affecting Real Estate: A Review of Clean Water Act Section 404, the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act," Arizona State Bar Journal, 2014
  • Speaker, "Wetlands, Endangered Species and Cultural Resources in Due Diligence," Saving the Deal: Avoiding and Minimizing Environmental Liability in Corporate and Real Estate Transactions Conference, State Bar of Arizona Environmental & Natural Resources Law Section and Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, 2014
  • Speaker, "Endangered Species and Clean Water Act Initiatives That Will Complicate Your Life and What You Can Do About It," Fennemore Craig Environmental & Natural Resources Seminar Series, 2014
  • Speaker, "How Full Is Our Water Glass? A Private Sector View of Arizona's Water Future," Tucson Association of Realtors, 2014
  • Speaker, "Even Laws Have a Mid-Life Crisis: The Clean Water Act Turns 40," Arizona Floodplain Manager's Society, 2014


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


  • Arizona
  • U.S. District Court, District of Arizona