Staff Scientist

 (via Idealist)
Los Angeles Waterkeeper
Los Angeles, CA, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
NGO/Civil Society
Experience Level: 
0-2 Years
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


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Los Angeles Waterkeeper, a dynamic environmental nonprofit organization founded in 1993 to fight for the health of the region’s waterways, is seeking a highly motivated individual to join our team as Staff Scientist.  The Staff Scientist will serve as LAW’s in-house water quality science expert, overseeing Waterkeeper’s efforts to promote multi-benefit, nature-based stormwater projects as part of the Safe Clean Water Program, and support the organization’s advocacy and enforcement work. Candidates ​should have experience in watershed protection planning, water quality and/or watershed assessments, environmental regulatory frameworks, and project management. This position will work closely with our legal and program staff, and Executive Director to advance LAW’s Pollution Prevention, Healthy Habitats, and Systems Change programs.

While LAW staff currently works remotely due to the pandemic, the Staff Scientist will ultimately be located in Los Angeles, CA. It should also be noted that though our office is currently located in Santa Monica, we plan to relocate in 2021, most likely to Downtown LA. The person selected should be prepared to be on the water and in the field, especially during rain events (subject to all applicable COVID-19 related safety measures).


1.     Utilize technical expertise to support LAW’s efforts to promote multi-benefit, nature-based stormwater projects as part of LA County’s Safe Clean Water Program, including:

·    Supporting LAW’s Executive Director in evaluating project proposals as part of the SCWP Scoring and Central Santa Monica Bay Watershed Advisory committees.

·    Leading LAW’s efforts to improve the SCWP (e.g., scoring criteria, guidance, etc.) to more effectively promote/require multi-benefit, nature-based projects including convening expert dialogue, supporting key research (evaluating full-cost-accounting, watershed modelling, etc.), and helping develop and advocate for specific recommendations to improve the SCWP

·    Participating in the OurWaterLA (OWLA) coalition that is working to improve the SCWP program, attending regular meetings and helping lead the coalition’s efforts around multi-benefit, nature-based projects

·    Joining regular meetings with the County and other key stakeholders, and developing written and oral testimony as needed to support LAW’s and OWLA’s positions

2.     Manage field investigation and water quality sampling related to ongoing and potential enforcement actions (particularly around LAW’s industrial enforcement program), including:

·       Coordinating logistical details of sampling events for wet and dry weather (planning sampling events, recruiting/scheduling samplers [COVID-compliant], ensuring timely delivery of samples to lab, etc.)

·       Maintaining databases and interpreting laboratory reports.

·       Conducting field investigations when necessary to prepare for sampling

·       Conducting wet weather sampling

·       Conducting dry weather sampling when necessary

·       Managing data related to field investigations and sampling, including GIS data point, sampling results, field sheets, Chain of Custody sheets, and photos/video

·       Identify and implement continuous improvements to monitoring program, particularly in the context of current and future regulatory requirements and best-available science.

·       Interfacing with communities and partners most impacted by stormwater pollution, often in frontline areas  

3.     Work with, and provide technical support to, LAW’s legal and marine staff to support the organization’s regulatory/legal advocacy campaigns, including:

·    Reviewing and developing written comments and/or oral testimony on: key regional or state stormwater, wastewater and industrial discharge permits (NPDES/WDR); the LA region’s 303(d) impaired waterbodies list and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs); Basin Plan amendments; priority Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) that impact the health of the region’s waterways; federal Section 404 permits; Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS) revisions; and other regulatory actions that affect the region  

·    Manage water quality data collected, and provide technical support on LAW’s litigation including possibly being deposed and testifying at public hearings and in court as needed

·    Coordinate with local, state, and federal agencies and partner organizations to achieve common goals

4.     Respond to Pollution Hotline reports and track responses to ensure compliance, and help update policies and procedures to respond to community pollution reports and significant pollution events

5.     Update all water quality monitoring organizational documents and equipment including:

·       QAPP (Quality Assurance Project Plan)

·       Standard operating procedures for wet weather and dry weather sampling

·       Sampling equipment/materials including, but not limited to: sampling containers, sampling forms, drain descriptions and photo catalogue, other equipment necessary to collect data (dustpans, funnels, flow meters, sampling poles, etc.)

6.     Support Waterkeeper outreach efforts, being a spokesperson to the media, decision-makers and the general public.

7.     Engage in meaningful partnerships with an array of partner organizations, including environmental, environmental health and justice, community-based organizations, tribes, and organized labor, to name some.    

8.     Support development of reports and other collateral materials that highlight our efforts

9.     Participate in grant-writing and reporting where relevant to program activities


Qualifications & Requirements:

1.     Demonstrated passion for and commitment to clean water, healthy ecosystems, resilient communities, and environmental health and justice.

2.     Capable of successfully working in diverse communities throughout LA County.

3.     Advanced degree (M.S. or PhD) in environmental sciences, hydrology, or related field is strongly preferred, but we encourage candidates with equivalent professional experience otherwise meeting qualifications to apply. Applicants should have at least two years’ experience in environmental monitoring and assessment including field and laboratory work.

4.     Must have experience/be familiar with State and EPA approved sampling protocols/standard operating procedures for collecting surface water, stormwater, and sediment samples.

5.     Familiarity with Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans and implementation of Best Management Practices/compliance.

6.     Experience with project management, including demonstrated ability to oversee campaign timelines, tasklists and budgets.

7.     Hard working, self-motivated, and a deep commitment and passion for improving water quality and building healthy communities.

8.     Excellent writing and presentation skills; experience distilling complex science concepts for a variety of audiences.

9.     Reliable transportation

10.  Familiarity with GIS, Excel, Microsoft Office Suite. Some experience with CA SMART’s database and Salesforce a plus.

11.  Strong organizational and data management skills.

12.  Ability to monitor and collect water samples in areas that may be physically difficult to access.

13.  Flexibility to accommodate irregular daily demands, some weekend and evening work is required to capture storm and first flush events.

14.  Ability to think strategically.

15.  Experience with grant writing and reporting is a plus.

16.  Spanish language proficiency preferred.