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Sustainable conservation

Modesto, CA

Assessing implementation of proposed projects under SGMA and CV-SALTS to drive better outcomes for water quantity and quality

Desired Skills/Traits:

  • Background/knowledge in water quality, data analysis, groundwater hydrology, natural resources, or ecosystems

  • Interest in community engagement and environmental justice

  • Agronomics, Legislation/Environmental Policy

  • Strong communicator, organized, able to engage with diverse stakeholders and understand technical literature

  • Curious and inquisitive, self-directed but can collaborate

  • Bilingual a plus (spanish preferred)

Openings: 0 of 1

elliot field visit 3.jpeg

*This position has been filled*

Focus Area: Agriculture

Regenerative Agriculture, Watershed Management

project breakdown







Education & Outreach


Goals & Needs

Sustainable Conservation helps California thrive by uniting people to solve our toughest challenges facing our land, air, and water. Our Water for the Future and Waste Not programs are investing in the health of our future groundwater aquifers by working now to develop and scale solutions for farmers to help ensure our groundwater aquifers will be healthier for future generations. We also engage with game-changing water policy efforts by working with diverse stakeholders to 1) build and share our understanding of underlying scientific frameworks and 2) support implementation projects that advance the goals of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).  

As a GrizzlyCorps fellow at Sustainable Conservation, you will have a unique and exciting opportunity to identify potential for improved and more equitable regional-scale climate and water outcomes by getting involved at the intersection of two ground-breaking water policy efforts: SGMA and the Salt and Nitrate Control Programs arising from the Central Valley Salinity Alternatives for Long-Term Sustainability (CV-SALTS) program. These two efforts address challenges associated with groundwater overdraft and nitrate and salt contamination of aquifers. After years in the making, people are ready to make the vision of these policy efforts a reality. However, it is unclear how data and regulatory frameworks will function to minimize groundwater overdraft under SGMA and how proposed groundwater recharge projects by the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) will integrate both water quantity and quality.  

  • To better understand how proposed actions and projects under SGMA and CV-SALTS will come to life and potentially be integrated with each other, the fellow will engage in daily activities such as:  

  • Attending calls and/or in-person meetings for Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) and Nitrate Management Zones (NMZs) in four sub basins in the Central Valley 

  • Reading and analyzing documents prepared by the individual GSAs and NMZs, such as Groundwater Sustainability Plans, final management zone proposals and preliminary NMZ implementation plans 

  • Engaging in continuous learning and reading throughout the service year 

  • Identifying trends across the different GSAs and NMZs, including commonalities and differences in approaches, stakeholders, monitoring and measurement, action plans, etc  

  • Tapping into the GrizzlyCorps network to understand how other Fellows’ work and their placement site organizations are, or could be, impacted by the GSAs and NMZs  

  • Engaging with local stakeholders and reviewing data resources to develop a better understanding of groundwater allocations frameworks and other GSP implementation projects and policies 

  • Identifying and assessing recharge projects at the intersection of water quality and quantity 

  • Bringing findings back to Sustainable Conservation’s program teams and co-developing ideas for deeper engagement to advance our agricultural solutions and/or influence coordination between/among GSAs and NMZs 

Capacity Building Projects

The implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and the Central Valley Salinity Alternatives for Long-Term Sustainability (CV-SALTS) initiative will have long-lasting effects on the future of the environment, agriculture, and community drinking water in California's Central Valley. With these two efforts being implemented simultaneously, it is important to understand what projects Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) are implementing in support of these two policy efforts and if/how they will address overdraft and contamination of aquifers. Additionally, it is important to understand the underlying scientific frameworks that are being proposed to minimize groundwater overdraft and how existing and new data resources will influence decisions. In this fast-evolving space, the GrizzlyCorps fellow will work to build capacity for Sustainable Conservation in four sub basins to 1) develop a better understanding of the data resources that will play a role in determining groundwater allocations and 2) assess GSP-proposed aquifer recharge projects that have potential to address water quantity AND quality. This work will build on the 2021-22 GrizzlyCorps fellow’s work to identify opportunities and barriers when integrating water quality and quantity management efforts.  


The fellow will provide regular updates to Sustainable Conservation program staff about projects and opportunities that our work may be able to influence. Additionally, the fellow will develop a final report summarizing the findings from their research and create a list of recommendations for relevant GSP implementation projects. Providing a big-picture overview of how these efforts are working together in practice – and what improvements to data availability and implementation projects could be made – would provide value to the many stakeholders who are trying to navigate an evolving landscape of regulatory programs and water scarcity. 

Organizational & Community Highlights


Sustainable Conservation works with California's agricultural sector to help continue and grow the legacy of stewardship of people and lands. Our culture supports a commitment to collaboration, encourages continuous learning, and welcomes diverse perspectives. The team has a variety of professional backgrounds, from government and policy to private business to research science. GrizzlyCorps Members will be working under the mentorship of staff who have many years of experience in the conservation and sustainability space. Working here will help the GrizzlyCorps member develop a better understanding of water, sustainable agriculture, and the operations of a non-profit organization.  

The GrizzlyCorps fellow will be based out of our field office in Modesto, CA, with opportunities to work in the main San Francisco office and the policy-focused Sacramento office as well. Modesto is in the heart of the Central Valley and the county seat of Stanislaus County, one of the top five agricultural counties in the state. Located just 1.5 hours west of Yosemite, east of the Bay Area, and south of the state capital, Modesto is a great landing place to explore the state. And don't forget the local gems, like the popular indoor rock climbing gym and the Gallo Center for the Arts, a regular venue for national and international shows.  

COVID-19: Due to the pandemic, most staff are currently working from their respective residences. However, our offices in Modesto, San Francisco, and Sacramento are open to those who feel comfortable working in indoor spaces.

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