Groundwater-Dependent Ecosystems Intern

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)

U.S.A., , XH

EDF offers internships and fellowships for students and recent graduates in a variety of programs and departments throughout the organization. The ultimate goal of our internship and fellowship program is to provide high-quality experiences (including relevant projects and opportunities for networking) that form the foundation for any individual who is serious about pursuing an environmental career.

Program/Department Overview

Increased water scarcity, compounded by the impacts of a changing climate and a growing population, has made sustainable water management one of the most challenging issues of our time. Adequate freshwater supplies are critical for the health of communities and wildlife. But in arid regions such as the western U.S., freshwater resources are dwindling. Effective water management is critical to sustainably meet the needs of people, industry, agriculture and the environment. The overarching objective of the Western Water Program is to rebalance water systems in the West and make them more resilient by focusing our work on three areas: 1) modernizing groundwater management, 2) improving and expanding healthy water trading programs, and 3) incentivizing the sustainable use of agricultural water. In these areas, we collaborate with diverse stakeholder groups to better incorporate the needs of all water users.

In the arid southwest, groundwater provides the year-round flows to rivers, streams and springs that support some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the nation. However, In Arizona and New Mexico, there has been no methodical, comprehensive assessment cataloging groundwater-dependent ecosystems (GDE), thus creating a gap in our ability to effectively and sustainably manage water resources to support these critical ecosystems.

Overall Function

The intern will develop a framework and approach for conducting a statewide groundwater-dependent ecosystem assessment. This will include reviewing empirical literature and case studies to learn about varying methodologies and approaches to GDE assessments as well as conducting interviews with practitioners and academics to glean best practices and lessons learned. The intern will also inventory relevant federal, state, and local geospatial and tabular data identified in the framework to evaluate data gaps and needs, and compile the available data.

Key Responsibilities

Tasks will include but are not limited to:

  • Review scholarly literature related to groundwater-dependent ecosystem assessments and synthesize findings
  • Research groundwater-dependent ecosystems assessment case studies (e.g., CA, NV, and OR) to determine methodology, approach, and data used
  • Conduct interviews with practitioners and academics
  • Build a framework for conducting a statewide comprehensive groundwater-dependent ecosystem assessment based on a review of literature and case studies as well as interviews
  • Inventory and compile relevant datasets laid out in the framework and identify gaps
  • Support EDF’s Western Water Program on related projects as needed


  • Experience with self-directed research projects and project management.
  • Demonstrated interest in the sustainable use of natural resources.
  • Coursework in water resources, hydrology, natural resources, environmental science, water resources/environmental management, or other relevant coursework.
  • Extensive experience in reading and synthesizing peer-reviewed academic literature.
  • Comfortable navigating public databases and synthesizing distributed information.
  • Proficient with GIS, Microsoft Excel, and/or other data management software.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Must be well organized, motivated, and detail-oriented.
  • Ability to work in a team setting and have the ability to work independently when projects are due.
  • Enrolled in or recently graduated from a graduate-level program




10 weeks during summer 2021


Full-time (35 hrs/week)


This internship would involve either compensation for work paid at a rate competitive with leading non-profits or academic credit. Students are encouraged to seek academic credit or funding through their college/university and EDF will ensure that any and all paperwork needed to secure academic credit is completed.

Application Materials

Interested applicants should attach their cover letter and resume to the EDF application, together with references, a writing sample, and an unofficial transcript.

Environmental Defense Fund is an equal opportunity employer where an applicant’s qualifications are considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other basis prohibited by law.




IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development