The People Who Make The Difference

Sarah A. Klahn

Managing Partner



Sarah Klahn represents municipal, industrial and ranching clients on water rights and water quality matters in Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming and New Mexico.  Sarah brings to her practice a willingness to consider innovative approaches to both trying and settling cases.  In Vance v. Wolfe and William F. West Ranch, LLC v. Tyrell, her clients’ arguments defined the applicability of state water law in Colorado and Wyoming to oil and gas produced ground water diversions.  On behalf of the City of Pocatello, Sarah is lead counsel in various delivery call cases-of-first-impression, which are expected to resolve the legal contours of conjunctive management in Idaho (A&B Irrigation District v. Spackman).  She handles scores of routine water rights and water quality matters for clients as well as more uncommon disputes involving interstate compacts and federal reserved rights.  Her work requires her to appear regularly before administrative agencies and state and federal district courts throughout the Rocky Mountain west, and the United States Supreme Court.  In addition to her litigation practice, she testified as an expert witness in 2012 on Colorado water law in Hall v. Moreno, a case involving federal congressional redistricting.  In her spare time, Sarah serves as the firm’s managing partner.

After a career as a research scientist and teacher, Sarah graduated cum laude from the University of Wyoming College of Law in 1997, and served as the first president of the College of Law’s Board of Advocates.  Sarah’s teaching experiences include classes in water law and advanced Indian water law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.  She edits the Water Law chapter of West’s Krendl’s Colorado Methods of Practice and served as co-editor of the American Bar Association’s Environment, Energy and Resources Law Year in Review.  Sarah speaks and writes widely on a variety of water law and water quality related matters.  She is a member of the newly-formed Board of Advisors for the National Judicial College’s Dividing the Waters program for water judges.  She is included in The Best Lawyers in America© in the field of water law, has been recognized in Colorado Super Lawyers®, and has been named a Top Lawyer by 5280 Magazine in the field of water law.  Sarah has also earned BV Distinguished® ratings from Martindale-Hubbell®.

Areas of Practice:

  • Water & Riparian Rights
  • Water Quality
  • Natural Resources Law
  • Litigation
  • Administrative Law

Bar Admissions:

  • Colorado, 1997
  • Wyoming, 1997
  • New Mexico, 1999
  • Idaho, 2008
  • United States District Court, District of Wyoming, 2002
  • United States District Court, District of Colorado, 2007
  • United States Supreme Court, 2008

Education:

  • University of Wyoming College of Law, Laramie, Wyoming, 1997
    – J.D., Doctor of Jurisprudence
    – Cum laude
    – President, Board of Advocates
  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, 1987
    – M.S., Master of Science, Entomology
    – With Honors
  • University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa, 1984
    – B.A., Bachelor of Arts, Biology

Published Works:

  • Prior Appropriative Rights and Diligence, 151 The Water Rep. 10 (Sept. 15, 2016)
  • Coalbed Methane Produced Groundwater, A Survey of Western Water Law Regulation, 77 The Water Rep. 1 (July 15, 2010) (co-author Jack Tuholske, Esq.)
  • Editor, Water Law, Colorado Methods of Practice, ch. 76 (S. Hess general editor) (2007–present)
  • Author, Water Quality Issues in Water Court, ch. 13, Colorado Water Law Benchbook, CBA-CLE (2007–present)
  • Co-editor, The Year in Review, ABA Sec. Env’t, Energy & Resources L. (2006–12)
  • Editor, Acquisition of Water Rights, Am. L. Mining, ch. 113 (Rocky Mtn. Min. L. Found. 2nd ed. ) (2002–present)
  • The “Developed” Water Doctrine in Colorado: What Vitality, ABA Trends (May/June 2007)
  • A Watershed Year Ahead?: The Top Water Quality Issues in 2006, Envtl. Prot. Mag. (Jan./Feb. 2006) (co-author Jason Turner, Esq.)
  • Plumbing the Murky Depths: Top Issues in Water Quality in 2004, Envtl. Prot. Mag. (Jan./Feb. 2004)
  • The Blind Man and the Elephant: Describing Drought in Colorado, 6 U. Denv. Water L. Rev. 519 (2003)
  • Water Quality Protections to Water Rights in Colorado, ABA Water Resources Newsl. (Sept. 2001)
  • The SWANCC Decision: Implications for the Administration of Wetlands, Soc’y of Wetland Scientists Newsl. (Summer 2001)
  • Effluent Reuse in Colorado, AWRA, Summer Specialty Conferences Proceeding (1999)
  • Environmental Audits in Wyoming: A Practitioner’s Guide, 23 Land & Water L. Rev. 655 (1997)
  • Total Maximum Daily Load Litigation: An Opportunity to Augment Instream Flows?, Rivers (Apr. 1997)

Editorial:

  • Water Wars, Greeley Tribune, May 20, 2007 (Co-author Alan Curtis, Esq.)

Representative Cases:

  • Rangen, Inc. v. Idaho Dep’t of Water Res., 367 P.3d 193 (Idaho 2016)
  • Yellow Jacket Water Conservancy Dist. v. Livingston, 318 P.3d 454 (Colo. 2013)
  • Pawnee Well Users, Inc. v. Wolfe, 320 P.3d 320 (Colo. 2013)
  • A & B Irrigation Dist. v. Spackman, 315 P.3d 828 (Idaho 2013)
  • A & B Irrigation Dist. v. Idaho Dep’t of Water Res., 284 P.3d 225 (Idaho 2012)
  • LoPresti v. Brandenburg, 267 P.3d 1211 (Colo. 2011)
  • Well Augmentation Subdistrict of Cent. Colo. Water Conservancy Dist. v. City of Aurora, 221 P.3d 399 (Colo. 2009)
  • William F. West Ranch, LLC v. Tyrrell, 206 P.3d 722 (Wyo. 2009)
  • Vance v. Wolfe, 205 P.3d 1165 (Colo. 2009)
  • Pocatello v. State, 180 P.3d 1048 (Idaho 2008), cert. denied, 129 S. Ct. 754 (2008)
  • Gallegos v. Colo. Ground Water Comm’n, 147 P.3d 20 (Colo. 2006)
  • City of Thornton v. City & County of Denver, 44 P.3d 1019 (Colo. 2002)
  • Eagle Peak Farms, Ltd. v. Lost Creek Ground Water Mgmt. Dist., 7 P.3d 1006 (Colo. App. 1999)

Representative Clients:

  • City of Pocatello, Idaho 
  • City of Thornton, Colorado
  • ConocoPhillips Company
  • Harvey Ranch (Colorado)
  • San Juan Water Commission (New Mexico)
  • Strawberry Park Ltd. (Colorado)
  • Weaver Ranch, Inc. (Colorado/Wyoming)
  • Widefield Water and Sanitation District (Colorado)

Classes & Seminars Taught:

  • Water Section Co-Chair, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation 60th Annual Institute, Vail, Colo. (July 17–19, 2014)
  • Panelist, State Water Plans in Colorado and Elsewhere, University of Denver, Water Law Review Symposium (Apr. 18, 2014)
  • Panelist, Judges and the Science of Instream Flow Conference, The National Judicial College, Reno, Nev. (Oct. 17–18, 2013)
  • Co-chair, Water, Oil and Gas – Recycling and Reuse of Water, CBA CLE In Colorado, Inc., Denver, Colo. (June 11, 2013)
  • Co-chair, Water, Oil and Gas 101, CBA CLE In Colorado, Inc., Denver, Colo. (Apr. 10, 2013)
  • Water Resources Law Forum, Steering Committee, Cambridge Forum (2012–13)
  • CBM Ground Water Regulations and Limits of Agency Authority, CLE Int’l, Colo. Water Law (May 2010)
  • Adjunct Professor of Law (water law and advanced Indian water law), Sturm College of Law, University of Denver, Colo. (2002–10)
  • Coalbed Methane Development and Water Regulation, A Western States Survey, CLE Int’l, Law of the Rio Grande (Mar. 2009)
  • CBM Produced Water: “Beneficial Use” or “Waste By-Product”?, 54th Annual Rocky Mtn. Min. L. Found. Meeting, Snowmass, Colo. (July 2008)
  • Coalbed Methane Development and Groundwater Pumping: Should CBM Producers Be Required to Comply with Colorado Water Statutes?, CLE Int’l, Colo. Water Law (Mar. 2007)
  • Water Quality in Colorado Water Rights Cases, CLE in Colo., Inc., Denver, Colo. (Oct. 13, 2006)
  • Fundamentals of Water Law in Colorado: Protecting Water Rights, Use and Quality, NBI-CLE, Denver, Colo. (2002–06)
  • Chair, Western Water Law, CLE Int’l, Denver, Colo. (Sept. 2003)
  • The Sleeping Giants: Nonpoint Sources, TMDLs, and Implications for Water Quality, Western Water Law Conference, CLE Int’l, Denver, Colo. (Sept. 2003)
  • The Law of Nonpoint Source Pollution: Could Pronsolino Happen Here?, Western Water Law Conference, CLE Int’l, Denver, Colo. (Mar. 2001)
  • Water Reuse in Colorado, or “We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Regulations,” Summer Special Topics Conference, American Water Reuse Association, Bozeman, Mont. (July 1999)
  • Is Water Reuse a Right or a Privilege: Examining Water Quality Battles in the West, Annual Water Resources Conference, American Water Resources Association, Point Clear, Ala. (Nov. 16, 1998)
  • Water Quality Exchanges: The Colorado Experience, Water Law Conference, American Bar Association, Section of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment, San Diego, Cal. (Feb. 1998)
  • Legal Framework for TMDLs, Wyoming Section Annual Symposium, American Water Resources Association, Cheyenne, Wyo. (Nov. 14, 1997)

Professional Associations, Memberships & Honors:

  • 5280 Magazine, Top Lawyers 2015–18
  • American Bar Association, Section of Enviornment, Energy, and Resources
    – Assistant Editor, Year in Review, 2006–12
    – Planning Committee, Fall Conference, San Diego, Cal., 2007
    – Co-chair, Annual Water Law Conference, San Diego, Cal., 2004
  • Best Lawyers®, Water Law, 2006–18
  • Colorado Bar Association
    – Executive Board Member, Water Law Section
  • Colorado Chapter of the American Planning Association Executive Board
    – Education Committee, 2003–04
    – Metro Area Representative, 1999–2002
  • Colorado Women’s Bar Association
  • Denver Bar Association
  • Idaho Bar Association
  • Legal Aid Foundation of Colorado
    – Board of Trustees, 2015–present
  • Martindale-Hubbell®, BV Distinguished® Ratings
  • National Judicial College’s Dividing the Waters Program for Water Judges, Board of Advisors, 2013–present
  • New Mexico Bar Association
  • Super Lawyers®, 2009, 2018
  • The National Law Journal and The American Lawyer, 2015 Legal LeadersTM
  • Wyoming Bar Association