Mark Limbaugh, Manager Partner of Client Services:

Before joining TFG in 2007, Mr. Limbaugh was former Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at the Department of the Interior and before that was Deputy Commissioner – External and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Bureau of Reclamation in Washington, DC. While at Interior, Mr. Limbaugh was directly involved in some of the most complex water issues involving the federal government.  He has worked closely with water and natural resource leaders in the 17 Western states and across the Nation, with the U.S. Congress, and with his peers at the many federal agencies and science organizations responsible for dealing with the water and natural resource issues of the Nation.  These positions enabled Mr. Limbaugh to also develop extensive relationships with the high-level officials at the Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies. He worked closely with Corps headquarters and staff, and as Deputy Commissioner at the Bureau of Reclamation, he helped to draft and implement a memorandum of understanding between the Corps and Bureau that continues to provide the two agencies a foundation for a collaborative and cooperative working relationship. Mark routinely draws upon his experience with the Corps to assist clients.

 Mr. Limbaugh’s duties included fulfilling the Secretary of the Interior’s role as the watermaster of the lower Colorado River Basin, working with and facilitating consensus among the seven Western states and the Republic of Mexico served by the Colorado River in developing water supply shortage-sharing criteria for the states of California, Arizona, and Nevada, and improving the management of basin reservoirs and river operations during record drought conditions.  He also served as the Secretary’s designee to the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Working Group in the Grand Canyon, promoting consensus-based recommendations from many diverse interests on the use of scientific data and monitoring in protecting the operations of the dam and power plant, endangered fish species in the river, and the many natural treasures of the Grand Canyon. 

Mark has successfully worked on several large water agreements across the Western U.S., including the landmark agreement mentioned above on shortage sharing and coordinated reservoir operations in the Colorado River Basin, which involved the federal government, the government of Mexico, and seven states dependent on the waters of the Colorado River System.  Mark has also successfully worked on many other complex water supply agreements, including in the Klamath River Basin in Oregon and California, the Central Valley in California, the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the Pacific Northwest, the Platte River Basin in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska, and the Arkansas River Compact in Colorado and Kansas, among others.  These agreements usually involved contentious issues focused on water sharing, development, and environmental demands for water to meet requirements of the federal Endangered Species and Clean Water Acts.

 His experience at the local and state levels of natural resource management includes serving as the State Watermaster for the Payette River Basin in Idaho, as executive director for the Payette River Water Users Association, and as chairman/member of multiple watershed advisory groups dealing with TMDL development, water quality assessments and standards, and other consensus-based river management issues.

Bill Hanka, Partner: 

Bill Hanka, the head of TFG’s Transportation Practice Management Team, joined TFG in 2000, bringing ten years of experience working in Congress and at the White House.  Bill has applied his knowledge of government and his problem-solving abilities to his work with city and county governments and joint power authorities to advance their federal appropriations, authorization, and regulatory agenda.  From helping to garner $17 million over two years in Federal Highway Administration dollars for a light rail project’s right of way acquisition to authorizing $2 million in Department of Defense funds to establish a business incubator, Bill enjoys creating innovative, creative solutions for his clients.

Bill’s government career included serving as deputy director of legislative affairs for Vice President Dan Quayle from 1989 to 1993, legislative director for Congressman George Nethercutt from 1995 to 1997, and investigative counsel for the House Government Reform Committee from 1997 to 1998. 

After leaving government service, Bill was of counsel to the firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman & Caldwell from 1998 to 2000, where he worked with a wide range of public and private sector clients on transportation and federal election issues.  Bill received his B.A. from Purdue University and a J.D. from the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University.

Stuart Somach, Partner, Somach Simmons & Dunn: 

Mr. Somach’s background includes service within the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Justice.  In private practice since 1984, Mr. Somach’s practice concentrates on water rights, federal reclamation law, natural resources, environmental law, all phases of civil litigation before federal and state courts, transactional matters involving water and other natural resources, environmental and related permitting, and negotiating federal legislative issues.  He met with President Clinton in the White House to discuss environmental issues, has testified before both houses of Congress on water and environmental issues, and has argued significant water cases before the United States Supreme Court, the California Supreme Court, and federal and state appellate courts.

Mr. Somach provides legal counsel to public agency clients, including the State of Arizona, numerous cities and counties in California and elsewhere in the West, and numerous water districts and irrigation districts, in a wide variety of matters involving surface water and groundwater, including the planning and permitting of significant surface water reservoirs, and the associated transactional negotiations and drafting needed to develop these resources.  He has significant experience representing inter-local joint powers agencies and has represented and worked closely with investor-owned water utilities.  Before entering private practice, he served as counsel to the United States Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation.  He was also an Assistant United States Attorney and a Senior Trial Attorney with the United States Department of Justice.  In that capacity, he represented the United States in all water rights litigation throughout the West.  Because of this background, he has maintained fairly close contact with various officials and staff with the Department of the Interior and other federal agency officials in Washington, D.C., as well as the relevant members of Congress and their staffs. 

In his career, Mr. Somach has negotiated numerous IGAs and MOUs dealing with varied jurisdictions in various states.  These include, for example:

  •  IGA between the City of Aurora, Colorado (client) and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.  This IGA involved water exchanges and other facilities operations involving the Arkansas River, Colorado.
  • Various MOUs involving the State of Arizona (client), the United States and the other six Colorado River Basin States regarding various aspects of the operation of facilities on the Colorado River.
  • MOU involving the State of California, the United States, and numerous Special Districts (client) regarding the development of an off-stream storage reservoir in the Sacramento Valley.

Mr. Somach is expert in the “asset” value of water.  He has negotiated countless transactions involving water, including water transfers and the sale of water.  He has also rendered opinions associated with the valuation of water, through appraisal of water rights and otherwise, and has litigated condemnation actions involving the valuation of water.

Mr. Somach has been involved in the development of numerous water projects, all of which included obtaining a variety of federal approvals including, but not limited to, approvals associated with the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Rivers and Harbors Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.  These major projects included the Los Vaqueros Project, a large off-stream storage project in California; the permitting, on the Sacramento River, of the world’s largest flat plate fish screen; and a major water diversion and water supply project, including large fish screens, within the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in California.

Mr. Somach has represented numerous clients in complex water rights transactions, litigation and associated settlement negotiations.  For example, he represented the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (“CAWCD”) in litigation involving the repayment of the Central Arizona Project that reduced the CAWCD repayment obligation by $500 million.  Ultimately, he successfully represented his client in settlement negotiations that resulted in Title 1 of the Arizona Water Settlements Act of 2004.  He represented the State of Arizona in negotiations with the other Colorado River Basin States and the United States that resulted in the current operating structure on the Colorado River.  He represented the Truckee-Donner Public Utility District on water rights to the Truckee River, which involved direct negotiations with the State of California, the State of Nevada, Indian tribes, the United States, and others regarding the proper allocation of water among the various interests, as well as the development of legislation to accomplish this purpose.  He also represented water users in Nevada and California in water rights to the Walker River.  This work involved negotiations with the United States, Indian tribes, and the State of Nevada, associated legislative efforts, and representing parties in litigation challenging the settlement.  He also represents the City of Aurora, Colorado in litigation associated with the use of various reservoirs on the Arkansas River, including the negotiations of a complex settlement to that litigation.

Mr. Somach can rely on support from others within his law firm.  Formed in 1991, Somach Simmons & Dunn is an 18-lawyer firm emphasizing in the fields of environmental law, natural resources law, and governmental law, with a focus on water rights and water quality law.  The firm is based in Sacramento, California, with an office in Washington, D.C.  The firm’s water practice represents clients throughout California and provides services to clients in Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and Colorado.  Somach Simmons & Dunn brings a unique combination of collective experience and an energetic, creative, and cutting edge approach to the practice of law in the fields of local government, water rights, water quality, natural resource, and environmental law.  Somach Simmons & Dunn attorneys are respected professionals who pride themselves on providing a high level of service to our clients in a timely and efficient manner.  (

Mr. Somach is a well-known water lawyer with a national reputation.  He is experienced and skilled in the exact type of project that is involved in the current situation.  He has worked in multiple jurisdictions in multiple states and, without question, would bring the exact type of skills to the current situation that is needed to successfully bring this project to fruition.

Bob Schmidt, Senior Consultant:

Mr. Schmidt began working as a consultant to TFG in 2005 and joined the firm on a full-time basis in 2007. Mr. Schmidt’s 30 years of federal government experience in the water resources arena gives him the ability to analyze complex water resources, environment and transportation issues, delivering opportunities, as well as unique technical skills in navigating the intricate federal appropriations and authorization processes. Mr. Schmidt was formerly the clerk of the House Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee. In this position, he had chief responsibility for the development of the annual appropriations bill and, more specifically, for the programs of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the nation’s two primary water resources development agencies. Prior to that, Bob worked for 13 years in a variety of capacities for the Army Corps of Engineers in its Philadelphia District office and in the Washington, DC, headquarters office. Bob has worked with TFG clients to secure federal appropriations and authorizations to help them meet critical water resources needs. Bob worked with staff of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee to ensure that the supplemental appropriations signed into law in the spring of 2007 included funds to repair a critical flood control levee in California. Bob also helped secure funding in the House-passed FY 2008 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill for maintenance dredging of a boat harbor along the Mississippi River and funding to address an ongoing flooding problem that threatens water and sewer lines. In addition, Bob worked to obtain authorizations for the Army Corps of Engineers to assist communities in North Carolina upgrade their water and wastewater systems.

Roger Gwinn, President and Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Gwinn is a leading member of our firm’s Water Resources Practice Group and a nationally recognized water infrastructure policy and funding expert, with substantial knowledge of the programs, budgets and operations of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Mr. Gwinn has worked with dozens of clients to secure direct federal support for their water supply-related projects, as well as assisted in securing federal approvals associated with the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.  He also has worked with several clients to form regional partnerships to develop and implement water supply projects, including a joint powers authority in eastern North Carolina that designed and constructed a project to deliver water to 120,000 residents in a three-county area in just eight years and received more than $80 million in federal support.  Mr. Gwinn, for example, has been in the forefront of national efforts to authorize federal cost-sharing of projects that promote the beneficial reuse of dredge spoil material for wetland creation and restoration. Mr. Gwinn has also helped numerous TFG clients successfully develop and implement Corps funded flood control, navigation and environmental restoration projects. Recognized by Influence Magazine as one of Washington’s six “Top Gun” appropriations lobbyists, Mr. Gwinn has spent his entire professional career in Washington. He joined TFG in 1993 after spending fifteen years on Capitol Hill, where he worked on the staff of Representative L. Richardson Preyer and then served as associate staff on the House Appropriations Committee and as legislative director to Congressman Vic Fazio, for whom he was responsible for water, energy, environmental protection, and natural resources issues.


The Ferguson Group has extensive experience in water and natural resource issues includes working for communities, water and sewer authorities, port authorities, downtown economic development corporations, public utilities, regional water and power authorities, non-governmental organizations, and coalitions.

Our specialty areas in water resources are listed below.

  •  Riverfront redevelopment
  • Harbors and navigational channel dredging and maintenance
  • Water infrastructure development, planning and funding
  • Storm water, drinking water and wastewater policy and funding
  • Environmental restoration
  • Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and Safe Drinking Water Act regulations
  • Irrigation, flood control and hydroelectric generation policy

Throughout its history, TFG has specialized in assisting public agency and private sector clients shape federal policies and laws that are critical to their interests. Examples of our work on water and natural resources issues are listed below.

  • Assist regional water and sewer agencies improve water supply and water treatment facilities in partnership with the federal government
  • Work to ensure that federal natural resources policy makers consider the positions and needs of our water and power clients at all levels of agency leadership
  • Assist water agencies with the financing and funding of long-term water infrastructure projects and efficiency improvements
  • Help local water and power agencies improve efficiencies and gain regulatory certainty for their operations through cooperative, regional fish and wildlife protection plans
  • Negotiate settlements of long-standing environmental and water-supply disputes through cooperative efforts to improve water supply reliability for cities, irrigated agriculture, the environment, and tribes
  • Secure federal funds for community water resource-related projects
  • Assist port authorities to secure funding for facility improvements, maintenance dredging and federal channel-deepening projects
To visit the Ferguson Group’s website, click here.