Martha O. Pagel

Water Law Attorneys

Martha Pagel knows water – from the inside out. With her unique background as a former director of both the Oregon Water Resources Department and Department of State Lands, she brings first-hand experience and insight into dealing with water and natural resources regulation. For three decades she has been recognized as a creative problem solver and consensus builder in dealing with complex natural resource issues.

Finding water

With an emphasis on water resources, Martha helps clients build effective supply strategies and get agency approvals for water development projects. She works with utilities, cities and regional water providers in planning, developing and managing municipal water supply, and with large and small hydroelectric projects to secure water rights and navigate the complex layers of regulatory requirements. She works with agricultural and industrial water users on water supply strategies including new storage development, conservation and efficiency programs, mitigation and watershed restoration, water right transfers and in-stream leases. From small family farms to major public utilities, Martha’s clients rely on her skill and experience to help meet water supply needs.



Solving disputes and moving forward

Because of her background with state agencies and regulatory programs, Martha often works with clients in responding to notices of resource violations and negotiating agreements for moving forward. From wetlands to waterway development to unauthorized water use, Martha helps map a course for achieving compliance.

With an eye on the future, Martha is widely recognized as a leader on water law and natural resource policy, and has a long record of accomplishment in working on policy development through Oregon's legislative process and agency rulemaking. She puts those skills to work for clients when changes are needed to meet future development needs. 

  • Secured and protected water rights for farmers, ranchers, nurseries, vineyards and all types of agricultural water users.
  • Represented more than a dozen small cities and municipal providers on water rights, long-term water supply and efficiency plans.
  • Formed and represented special districts and intergovernmental entities for water development purposes.
  • Secured water rights and developed an administrative structure for managing an aquifer ‎recharge project to promote regional economic development‎.
  • Provided due diligence evaluation and advice on water supply for farms, ranches and other real property transactions involving water rights.
  • Developed and implemented water management strategies for all types of water users, including transfers, permit amendments, conservation plans, certificates and water marketing.
  • Assisted major public utilities in negotiating state water rights as part of relicensing before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
  • Negotiated agreements with the Department of State Lands to settle long-standing ownership disputes over historically filled waterfront lands.
  • Negotiated consent agreements with the Department of State Lands for wetland and removal fill violations.
  • Secured water rights for resort and golf course development and advised on water use efficiency.
  • Arbitrated an interstate compact dispute over water distribution among three states.

Memberships & Awards


  • Western Resources Legal Center, Attorney Advisory Committee, Chair‎
  • Oregon Concrete and Aggregate Producers, Member (2001-present), Environment ‎Committee, Former Chair Board Member
  • Oregon Water Resources Congress, Member
  • American College of Environmental Lawyers, Executive Committee, Member (2016), ‎Region 10 Membership Chair (2013-present), Rapid Response Committee, Co-Chair ‎‎(2016) ‎


  • Oregon State Bar, Natural Resources Section Leadership and Service award (2014)‎
  • American College of Environmental Lawyers, Member (2011-present)‎
  • Portland Business Journal Leadership award
  • Ranked for Environmental Lawyers in Oregon, Chambers USA (2018-2019)
  • Martindale-Hubbell® AV Rating
  • Best Lawyers in America Award, Water Law (2007-2019)
  • Super Lawyers

Resources & Ideas




Oregon State Courts

Washington State Courts

United States District Court of Oregon

Outside The Office