Thornton, Sara R.

(512) 322-5876

Sara is a member of the Water Practice Group and the Compliance and Enforcement Practice Group. She assists clients with various water supply and water quality permitting, compliance, and enforcement issues and has particular expertise in wastewater permitting, Clean Water Act Section 404 permitting, TCEQ enforcement, and compliance with the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.  While earning her Master of Urban Planning degree, Sara conducted research in urban sprawl, collaborative ecosystem management, and wetland mitigation banking, and was a co-author on several articles related to this research.

  • Admitted to the U.S. District Courts of Eastern Districts of Texas
  • Admitted to State Bar of Texas (2008)
  • J.D., cum laude, Texas Tech University School of Law (2008)
  • Master of Urban Planning, Texas A&M University (2004)
  • B.S. in Renewable Natural Resources, Texas A&M University (2002)
  • Sara represents various clients across the state, including cities, river authorities, regional water districts, and other political subdivisions of the state, as well as private industrial and commercial interests.
  • Author, "A Battle Ends, But the Fight for Water in Oklahoma Continues," Texas Water Journal, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2014)
  • Co-Author, "The Potential Impact of Federal Laws on State Water Supplies," Journal of Real Property Law, Vol. 1, No. 1, p.99 (2013)
  • Co-Author, “Hydraulic Short-Circuiting: The  Potential Impact of Certain Federal Laws on State Water Supplies” BNA Bloomberg Water Law & Policy Monitor, January 30, 2013
  • Speaker, “Facing the Challenges of TCEQ Enforcement: New Information for Your Arsenal.” Presented at Texas Water 2012.
  • Speaker, “What’s Happening in the World of Water? Legal and Legislative Update." Presented at the 2011 Texas American Planning Association Conference.
  • Speaker, “Legal Issues in Water Supply Planning.” Presented at the 2011 Texas American Planning Association Conference.
  • Speaker, “Enforcement Considerations for Pretreatment Programs.” Presented at the 2010 Region VI Pretreatment Association Workshop.
  • Brody, S.D., Highfield, W., and Thornton, S. (2006). Planning At the Urban Fringe: An Examination of the Factors Influencing Nonconforming Development Patterns in Southern Florida. Environment and Planning B 33: 75-96.
  • Brody, S.D., Cash, S., Dyke, J., Thornton, S. (2006). Motivations For the Forestry Industry to Participate in Collaborative Ecosystem Management Initiatives. Forest Policy and Economics 8: 123-134.
  • Dyke, J., Cash, S., Brody, S.D., Thornton, S. (2005). Examining the Role of the Forest Industry in Collaborative Ecosystem Management: Implications for Corporate Strategy. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management 12: 10-18.
  • State Bar of Texas
    • Environmental and Natural Resources Law Section
    • Administrative Law Section
  • Austin Bar Association
  • Water Environment Association of Texas
  • Texas Water Conservation Association
  • Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association
  • Texas Tech School of Law Order of Barristers
  • Donald M. Hunt Outstanding Barrister Award
  • Ambassador Round Winner at the John Marshall School of Law International Moot Court Competition
Sara’s west Texas roots and her father’s job as a wildlife biologist instilled in her an understanding of the true value of water, not only for the environment, but for the economic growth of Texas. When not practicing law, you can find Sara reading, at her boxing gym or running on Lady Bird Lake. During football season, Sara can be found cheering for her beloved Texas Aggies.

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