Senior Water Attorney / CA Water Policy Director
Fully Remote CA Conservation, Pacific Region
Job Type


The Senior Water Attorney/ Director of California Water Policy will report directly to the California Director and will be responsible for leading our work to reform state and federal water law and policy in California, for working with water right holders and state agencies to develop and complete water rights transactions and obtain related approvals to restore and enhance instream flow for the benefit of native coldwater fisheries, and to lead complex, multi-party negotiations to improve water management. 


Trout Unlimited is the leading conservation nonprofit working to protect and restore river flows in the face of a changing climate and a hotter, drier future for the West. In California, we have been at the forefront developing cooperative projects with water users to improve stream flows and water supply reliability, instream flow dedications, legislative efforts to improve water right administration, state programs to set standards to protect instream beneficial uses and the public trust, scientific methods for water measurement and management, and large river negotiations to remove dams and share water on systems such as the Klamath and Eel Rivers. We are looking for an energetic and talented water lawyer to help our water team define and carry out the next phase of our work, and with it a future for California water. 

The ideal candidate will have a working knowledge of water law and water right permitting, coupled with an understanding of fisheries conservation, a passion for conservation, an ability to think strategically to advance conservation goals, and the ability to work effectively both independently and as part of a team. The geographic location of the position is flexible within Northern California, with proximity to the Sacramento area a plus.


  • Provide legal advice and transaction support to our Water and Restoration project managers as they work with water right holders, agencies, NGOs, and other partners to develop and implement on-the-ground cooperative projects to improve instream flow and water supply reliability. 
  • Prepare, file, and secure approval of water right applications, change petitions, and other approvals associated with voluntary projects and transactions to secure instream flow.
  • Develop and advocate reforms to water law and policy before the California Legislature, as well as state and federal agencies.
  • Represent Trout Unlimited in complex negotiations over water management, reservoir operations, dam removal, or other matters affecting fisheries. 
  • Define the future scope, scale, vision, and strategies for TU’s California Water Program in concert with the California Director and state/ regional Water Program staff. 
  • Prepare grant applications, reports, and public outreach materials. 
  • Integrate program activities with TU’s North Coast, Central Coast, and Sierra Nevada restoration programs, TU’s California Science Program, and TU’s grassroots State Council and Chapters.

This is not an all-inclusive list of duties and responsibilities.  



  • Licensed to practice law in California, with experience in matters involving California water law and water rights. The ideal candidate will have a good working knowledge of prominent issues in California water law, including instream flows, reasonable use, the public trust doctrine, curtailment rules, conjunctive use, water transfers and leasing, groundwater recharge, and measuring/ monitoring.
  • Government affairs experience at the state and/or federal level; relationships with California state agencies and experience advocating before the California Legislature are particularly desirable.
  • Experience working with Tribal Nations and knowledge of tribal water law and natural resource management is particularly desirable.  
  • Ability to problem solve and think creatively to achieve a conservation mission. 
  • Superior interpersonal skills and ability to work constructively with a wide range of partners, including farmers and other landowners, industry representatives, scientists, nonprofit organizations, foundations, and public agencies.
  • Demonstrated experience in negotiations. 
  • Demonstrated organizational, project management, and problem-solving abilities. The job requires the ability to prioritize workload and to be highly motivated and self-directed. 
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, as well as first rate research and analytic skills.
  • Willingness to travel within California and occasionally to other states. Valid driver’s license and own vehicle required. 
  • Passion for trout and salmon and the places they live. 

Trout Unlimited is a national organization with 300,000 members and supporters organized into more than 400 chapters and councils nationwide, working to conserve, protect, and restore North America's cold-water fisheries and their watersheds. These dedicated grassroots volunteers are matched by a respected staff of organizers, lawyers, policy experts, and scientists, who work out of 25 offices across the country. 

The California program has staff located in Emeryville, Ft. Bragg, Truckee, and home offices around the state, working on priority waters in the Klamath Basin, along the North and Central coasts, the Sierra Nevada, and the Central Valley.


Staff and leadership at TU understand that life outside of work is important to personal health, and we strive to create a healthy and family-friendly atmosphere. This is a full-time position with a generous benefits package. The salary range is $115,000 – $145,000 annually.  Should the level or location of the role change during the hiring process, the applicable base pay range may be updated accordingly. Compensation decisions are dependent on several factors including, but not limited to, 

an individual’s qualifications, location where the role is to be performed, internal equity, and alignment with market data.

At TU, we value a diverse representation of staff, and we actively seek candidates for this position who come from communities that have been historically under-represented in conservation and those who have been most impacted by degraded rivers and streams. We are committed to building space for all people to participate in our work to care for trout and salmon and clean our shared waters.

We are proud to be an equal opportunity employer and welcome you to read more about TU’s equity practice and values


Please provide a resume and cover letter, including three professional references, to Trout Unlimited via TU's Paylocity application system, using the link below. We will review applications on a rolling basis, beginning on June 24th. The position will remain open and posted until filled.

Salary Description
$115 - 145k Annually + generous benefit package