Water Law


In an increasingly complex legal and regulatory environment, Schwabe lawyers find innovative solutions to water supply needs.

Serving Water Needs 

We help individual landowners, businesses and municipalities obtain, protect and market water rights in the context of federal and state laws and other regulatory requirements that affect their use of water. This includes issues that arise under state water law, the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), water development funding programs, and when obtaining removal-fill authorizations under state and federal requirements.

We provide legal counsel at every step in the process, including pursuing surface water and groundwater use authorizations and permits; obtaining permit extensions, amendments and secondary-use permits; negotiating water-right transfers, instream leases, conservations and management plans, and other water supply transactions; and representing clients in contested case hearings and litigation.

Our team is led by Martha Pagel, a former director of the Oregon Water Resources Department and the Department of State Lands. She and other members of the practice have an extensive network of professional contacts in the governor’s office, legislature and state agencies, as well as with federal regulatory authorities. We have successfully represented clients before the Oregon Water Resources Department, the Oregon Department of State Lands, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other government agencies on issues involving water rights and adjudication.


  • Represented a global social media company in the siting of its first data center outside Silicon Valley.
  • Helped a major public utility obtain a water supply for new power generating facilities.
  • Obtaining and protecting water rights for dozens of farms and ranches throughout the state of Oregon.
  • Negotiating water right permit extensions for small cities and municipal water providers.
  • Securing the water supply and coordinating all state permitting for Oregon’s first new gold mining operation in decades.
  • Securing, monitoring and protecting water supplies for major public utilities.
  • Maximizing water supply options for public ports in Oregon and Washington.
  • Obtaining and marketing “mitigation credits” for offsetting new groundwater development.
  • Representing user interests in legislative hearings and agency rulemaking.
  • Pursuing appeals of agency decisions in the circuit courts or in administrative hearings.

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