Sarah E. Mack

direct 206.493.2315

Sarah Mack’s practice focuses on water rights, project permitting and environmental review, and administrative and judicial appeals in the areas of natural resources, land use, and environmental law. Sarah represents developers of commercial and residential projects, resorts, and municipal water supply facilities throughout Washington. Sarah also advises public and private sector clients on proposed legislation relating to water rights, water supply planning, and land use. Sarah lectures and writes frequently on water resource law and policy issues.

Since 2000, Sarah has been included on each year’s Washington Super Lawyers® list. She has also achieved the prestigious “AV® Preeminent™” peer review rating in the Martindale-Hubbell® Law Directory. Sarah was selected the Best Lawyers® 2017 Land Use and Zoning Law "Lawyer of the Year" in Seattle and has also been selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America©2017 in the fields of Environmental Law; Natural Resources Law; Water Law; Administrative/Regulatory Law; Energy Law, Land Use and Zoning Law; Land Use and Zoning Litigation; and Environmental Litigation.

Best Lawyers Award Badge

Best Lawyers Award Badge

Representative Matters

  • Cornelius, et al. v. Ecology, et al., 182 Wn. 2d 574, 344 P.3d 199 (2015). Sarah served as a Special Assistant Attorney General representing Washington State University in the first “as applied” constitutional challenge to Washington’s 2003 Municipal Water Law. Sarah successfully defended water right changes to enable consolidation of wellfield operations on WSU’s Pullman campus.
  • PUD No. 1 of Pend Oreille County v. Ecology, 146 Wn.2d 778, 51 P.3d 744 (2002). Represented amicus curiae Washington Public Utility Districts Association in case establishing that “public interest” considerations are not a legal basis for denying a change in point of diversion of a surface water right.
  • R.D. Merrill Company v. Pollution Control Hearings Bd., 137 Wn.2d 118, 969 P.2d 458 (1999). Represented property owner in successful defense of water right changes enabling development of Wilson Ranch, home of the award-winning Freestone Inn & Cabins in Mazama, Washington.
  • Whatcom County v. Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Bd., 186 Wn. App. 32, 344 P.3d 1256 (2015). Served as co-counsel for amici curiae Washington REALTORS®, Building Industry Association of Washington, and Washington State Farm Bureau in successful challenge to Growth Management Hearings Board decision rejecting county’s rural land use policies as insufficiently protective of surface water and groundwater under the Growth Management Act.
  • PUD No. 1 of Clark County v. Pollution Control Hearings Bd., 137 Wn.App. 150, 151 P.3d 1067 (2007). Served as litigation counsel for Clark Public Utilities in successful defense of preliminary permit for groundwater testing under SEPA categorical exemption.
  • Shelly Crocker v. Keith Pfeifer, et al., Klickitat County Superior Court No. 13-2-00076-3 (2014). Represented court-appointed Receiver in successful action for declaratory judgment and quiet title to protect water rights and water supply for vineyard properties in Horse Heaven Hills area.
  • Tulalip Tribes of Washington v. Ecology, et al., PCHB No. 01-106 (2002). Represented Snohomish River Regional Water Authority in defense of transfer of former kraft mill water right for municipal supply.
  • Complex Project Permitting and Environmental Review. Represented proponent of Arrowleaf Planned Destination Resort in Okanogan County, prior to sale of project site to Trust for Public Lands. Devised entitlement strategy, obtained local land use permits, and successfully defended County approvals and environmental impact statement in superior court.
  • Water Right Permitting. Assisted private developer of two residential subdivisions in the Deschutes River basin in Thurston County in obtaining new water rights for groundwater withdrawals, mitigated by direct streamflow augmentation; negotiated settlement agreement with Squaxin Island Tribe resulting in dismissal of Tribe’s 2010 appeal.
  • Water Right Portfolio Management. Counsel to municipal water suppliers and homeowners’ associations, providing advice on water system plan updates, permit extensions, acquisition and transfer of water rights, and trust water right donations.
  • Water Resources Rulemaking. Represented non-profit organization in petition for amendment of Dungeness basin rule.

Professional Activities

Member, Washington State Bar Association, Environmental and Land Use Law Section (Executive Committee member, 1997-2000); Editorial Board Member, Western Water Law & Policy Reporter; Member, Washington Water Policy Alliance; Member, Department of Ecology Water Resources Advisory Committee; Member, Association of Washington Business Water Resources Committee; Co-chair, Washington Water Law Conference (Law Seminars International 2012-2014, 2008-2010, 2005-2006); Co-chair, Water Rights in Washington seminar (WSBA 2007); Faculty, Annual Conference on Growth Management Act (Law Seminars International 2014); Faculty, Water Right Transfers conference (Seminar Group 2013, 2008); Faculty, Annual Water Law Conference (WSBA 2007, 2002-2003); Faculty, Fundamentals of Water Law in Washington seminar (National Business Institute 2003-2005, 2001); Faculty, Washington Water Law Conference (LSI 2004, 2002, 2000); Faculty, American Water Resources Association Washington Conference (2000); Faculty, University of Washington Land Use Training Program (1998, 1997).

Prior Experience

Partner, Stoel Rives LLP (1996-2004); Principal, Hillis Clark Martin & Peterson, P.S. (1988-1996); Associate, Hillis Clark Martin & Peterson, P.S. (1982-1988).


J.D., University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall) School of Law, 1982.
B.A., University of California, Santa Cruz, 1974.


Washington State Bar Association
Supreme Court of the State of Washington
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington

Community Activities

Volunteer Fundraiser, Care to Help, www.caretohelp.org, a nonprofit providing safe drinking water facilities, schools, and healthcare in rural villages in Vietnam. Past Member, City of Seattle Board of Ethics and Fair Campaign Practices Commission.