Partner   •   Nathan Bracken

Nathan Bracken, Partner


Nathan joined Smith Hartvigsen as of counsel in 2015. Previously, he served as the assistant director and general counsel for the Western States Water Council, where he represented state engineers and water quality administrators from Utah and seventeen other western states. He has experience in water rights, water quality, energy, public policy, and government relations. A trained mediator and facilitator, Nathan has led multi-stakeholder initiatives that have influenced federal legislation and policies involving the Clean Water Act, groundwater, and tribal and federal reserved water rights. Nathan began his legal career as an attorney and mediator with Dart, Adamson & Donovan in Salt Lake City.

Practice Areas

  • Water Law
  • Natural Resources
  • Government Law
  • Public Policy
  • Government Relations
  • Mediation and Facilitation

Professional Affiliations

Admitted to the following:

  • 2006 - Utah State Bar
  • 2006 - Utah Federal District Court
  • 2009 - American Bar Association
  • 2014 - American Water Resources Association


  • Juris Doctor, University of Utah, 2006
    • Managing Editor, Journal of Law and Family Studies
    • Judicial Extern, Justice Ronald Nehring of the Utah Supreme Court
    • Mediation Extern, Utah Dispute Resolution
    • CALI Award for Judicial Process
    • Utah Rights and Civil Liberties Award
    • Representation in Mediation Competition Team
  • Bachelor of Arts, Brigham Young University (English), 2002
    • Editor, BYU Prelaw Review
    • Senior Achievement Award

Representative Publications

  • Concentrating Solar Power and Water Issues in the U.S. Southwest, Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis, Technical Report NREL/TP-6A50-61376, March 2014
  • Water Transfers in the West: Projects, Trends, and Leading Practices in Voluntary Water Trading, Western Governors’ Association, December 2012
  • Water Reuse in the West, West-Northwest Journal of Environmental Law and Policy, 451-530, Vol. 18, No. 2, Summer 2012
  • Scalpels v. Hammers: Mitigating Exempt Well Impacts, Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education, 24-32, Issue 148, August 2012
  • Exempt Well Issues in the West, Environmental Law, 141-253, Vol. 40, Issue 1, Winter 2010

Representative Presentations

  • Testimony, U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Hearing: Rural Water Projects; Washington, D.C., July 2012
  • Keynote Address, Exempt Wells Conference: Problems and Approaches in the Northwest, sponsored by the Colorado Water Institute, University of Idaho, the Montana University System, Oregon State University, and Washington State University; Walla Walla, Washington, May 2011
  • Western Water Challenges and the Role of Water Transfers, University of Arizona Water Resources Research Institute; Tucson, Arizona, September 2013
  • Clean Water Act: Waters of the U.S., Council of State Governments-West Legislative Council on River Governance Meeting; Yakima, Washington, September 2014
  • The Energy-Water Nexus, U.S. Department of Energy Quadrennial Review Public Meeting; San Francisco, California, June 2014
  • Tribal Water Law 101, American Bar Association Water Law Conference; Las Vegas, Nevada, June 2014
  • Interstate Compacts and Federalism, Colorado River Water Users Association, Annual Meeting; Las Vegas, Nevada, December 2012
  • Drought Management in the West, Georgetown Law Center Conference on Promoting Low-Carbon Solutions; Washington, D.C., February15, 2013
  • Public Engagement and Wastewater Reuse, Idaho Water Reuse Conference; Boise, Idaho, April 2012
  • Collaboration Between States and Tribes on Indian Water Rights Settlements, National Congress of American Indians Annual Conference; Albuquerque, New Mexico, November 2010