Water Quality Specialist/Hydrogeologist

Sustainable Conservation Published: February 1, 2024
Modesto, CA
Skill Level
Senior Level, Mid Level
Job Type
Natural Resources/ Restoration / Scientific

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Sustainable Conservation (a leading non-profit in its field) advances the collaborative stewardship of California’s land, air, and water for the benefit of nature and people. Every day, we bring together businesses, landowners, government, and other non-profits in some of the most productive yet economically disadvantaged parts of California, to steward the resources on which we all depend in ways that are just and make economic sense.

  • Please visit our website to learn more about our work.   

Sustainable Conservation is committed to addressing policies and practices that have historically prioritized economic benefits to some at the ecological, health, and/or economic expense of others. We engage with diverse entities like farmers, water agencies, government leaders and community organizations to co-create solutions to catalyze more substantial improvements in areas of California where the stakes are highest for getting it right. Centering diversity, equity, and inclusion in our mission and vision is the fullest expression of how we aim to support California. Only by weaving these values through everything we do – both within individual programs and the organization, both in the field and at the office – can we help shape a California where all can truly thrive.   

Position Summary  

The Water Quality Specialist/Hydrogeologist will lead our work to investigate relationships between managed aquifer recharge (MAR) activities and groundwater quality, develop decision support tools and recharge guidance, and examine other elements of hydrogeologic effects of MAR, such as changes in water levels and groundwater gradients. This position will also periodically coordinate with other program teams in their water quality-related avenues of investigation such as the benefits of cover crops and soil health practices for nutrient retention.

Ideally, the Water Quality Specialist/Hydrogeologist will also provide technical expertise on surface water hydrology, CA flood management, and restoration of floodplain habitat and groundwater dependent ecosystems. This position is critical in deepening our organization’s expertise in groundwater and surface water hydrology, as well as collecting, organizing and analyzing water quality data associated with recharge activities to inform our development of decision support tools and to craft policies that support sustainable groundwater management that protects people and the environment.  

The external-facing responsibilities of the position require the incumbent to build and sustain collaborative relationships with diverse stakeholders including state agencies, academics, environmental justice and conservation NGOs, communities, farmers, agricultural industry groups, and local water districts to identify concerns, develop strategies, and improve collective knowledge about the water quality benefits and risks of MAR for groundwater sustainability. Information derived from these relationships and collaborations will be used to inform and guide local and state policies to assist in effective recharge.

This position will develop various outward-facing materials such as technical memos and conference presentations for scientific audiences, help our communications team to translate these findings into story maps and visual aids for more general audiences, and assist our Policy Director in developing policy briefs and recommendations for legislative and agency audiences.  

The ideal candidate will have well-established technical skills in scientific data analysis and be highly organized with meticulous attention to detail. The candidate should also have the desired experience to prepare recommendations and decision support products to help diverse MAR stakeholders operate and communicate about water quality as efficiently and effectively as possible—all while advancing environmental solutions that are just and make economic sense. Specific content knowledge in California water issues is helpful but not required, and a background in data management and analysis with skills in ArcGIS Pro and R or Python is required.  

The role reports directly to the Program Director for the Water for the Future Program.  

  • Location: This position will be based out of one of our offices in Modesto/San Francisco/Sacramento. Our teams work in a hybrid work environment with an option to work remotely a few days a week. Periodic travel throughout the state will be required. 
  • Water Quality Specialist/Hydrogeologist – Modesto/San Francisco/Sacramento 
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to senior level 
  • Job Type: Exempt, full time with benefits   
  • Anticipated Start Date:  February 1, 2024  

Primary Responsibilities   

Groundwater Recharge and Water Quality: 

  • Build and maintain partnerships with scientists, NGOs, environmental justice groups, agricultural producers, and agencies to build a data driven knowledge base about the effects of recharge on groundwater quality.  
  • Convene a Technical Advisory Committee to build consensus around the best approach to quantitatively evaluate the risk of recharge adversely impacting groundwater quality for domestic wells and community drinking water systems. 
  • Lead analysis of meta data to determine the best sources of water quality data to inform the development of further guidance and geospatial resources that assess water quality risk under recharge and collect, compile and analyze water quality data from existing sources for this purpose.  
  • Lead development of decision support products that can be used by farmers, GSAs and communities to evaluate water quality risks/benefits of alternative recharge methods and project sites. 
  • Develop guidance and messaging about recharge and water quality that can be used to increase adoption of water quality protection best practices by farmers, irrigation districts, GSAs and communities.  
  • Work with communities and water managers to develop template contingency plans to ensure drinking water needs of communities are met if recharge adversely affects local groundwater supplies. 
  • Collaborate with the Policy Director to develop Sustainable Conservation’s position on administrative policy and legislative proposals affecting water quality. 

Additional Responsibilities: 

  • Collaborate with the Groundwater Recharge Assessment Tool (GRAT)  team to build and manage relationships with stakeholders for the development of localized GRAT instances that involve consideration of floodplain hydrology, groundwater dependent ecosystems, and/or targeting of recharge for community water supply wells. 
  • Engage in efforts to build new GRAT tool functionality to include multiple benefit outcomes including consideration of water quality.  


Experience and Skills Required:  

  • Master’s degree or higher in Environmental Science or Engineering, Hydrology, Geology, Hydrogeology, or related field, required. Equivalent experience (e.g., bachelor’s degree in any of these fields with a P.E. license + 7-10 years’ experience) will also be considered. 
  • Knowledge and experience in water quality, particularly issues related to groundwater for human consumption. 
  • Demonstrated experience applying technical knowledge to achieve on-the-ground solutions for compliance with regulations and identifying improved regulatory program design. 
  • Understanding of surface and groundwater regulations, preferably in California. 
  • Ability to facilitate technical discussions in cross-disciplinary settings. 
  • Ability to work with and keep track of multiple complex processes, tasks, and deliverables. 
  • Aptitude and experience working with tabular and spatial data, databases, and information management. 
  • Project management experience required.
  • Strong organizational skills, coupled with strong attention to detail and accuracy. 
  • Self-starter, able to work independently and in a team.  
  • Good people and communication skills, able to build rapport, make requests, identify, and break through bottlenecks when needed. 
  • Ability to communicate complex scientific information to a wide variety of audiences. 
  • Strong writing and presentation skills 
  • Competency in R/Python and ArcGIS Pro required. 
  • Familiarity with software such as Adobe Suite, MS Office 365 and SharePoint is required. 
  • Ability to tolerate lengthy periods of keyboarding and mousing related to data entry work, as well as time spent looking at spreadsheets and computer screens. 


  • The annual salary for this role is $100,000-$118,000 commensurate with experience.
  • We also offer:
    • A competitive compensation package based on experience, fully paid health insurance benefits, generous match on 401k, FSA, EAP, vacation, floating days, sick leave, plus the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day as holiday leave. Our greatest benefit is our culture. Our staff is collaborative, dedicated, and caring.
    • We believe in articulating and practicing our values (Collaboration, Respect, Results, Honesty, Learning, Well-Being) at work and have a strong commitment to bringing a DEI lens to our work and workplace culture.

To Apply

Please click "Apply" below to email your cover letter and resume and include “Water Quality/Hydrogeologist” in the subject line.

At Sustainable Conservation we value culture and diversity and as an equal opportunity employer we encourage qualified individuals from all backgrounds to apply to our job openings.

When you apply for this position, please say you saw this job on Green Dream Jobs!!

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