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River Scientist

Department/Function: Monitoring and Community Stewardship 
Organization Policy – Job Description 
Reports to: Programs Director, Laurie Egan 
Approved by: Greg Pepping, Executive Director 
Job Title: River Scientist 
FLSA Status: Exempt 
Full-time (40 hours/week) with some weekend work required 
$51,200 - $61,500 dependent on experience 
Benefits available after 90-day introductory period:  
Vision and dental insurance fully covered by CWC. $400 monthly health insurance contribution from CWC, along with SIMPLE IRA retirement plan including CWC contributing 3% of salary. Job-related professional development and training opportunities. 
Job Summary: 
Reporting to the Programs Director, the Coastal Watershed Council’s (CWC) River Scientist is responsible for implementing CWC’s community-based programs to improve water quality and enhance habitat in and along the lower San Lorenzo River in Santa Cruz, CA. These programs are funded by contracts with local city and county agencies, grants from state and federal agencies and private foundations and community donations. Community-based programs to improve water quality include special investigations to identify water quality problems and solutions, the implementation of these solutions by engaging people to take action and the organizing of volunteer days to monitor water quality including the annual Snapshot Day. Community-based programs to enhance habitat include volunteer-based invasive species removal and native plant installations through monthly River Health Days, organizing corporate team building opportunities and coordinating with CWC’s education program staff to engage students and youth groups. This position will represent CWC to the public and communicate their findings to preserve and protect coastal watersheds while teaching youth and adults of all backgrounds about the importance of rivers, creeks and watersheds to our daily lives and inspire people to take action to improve watershed health. 
Essential Duties & Responsibilities: 
  • Build and maintain strong relationships and clear communication with people of all backgrounds who live, work and play along the lower San Lorenzo River. Be visible and accessible to the community by attending community events, sharing CWC’s vision and providing program information. 
  • Design, implement and lead community engagement, community science water quality monitoring and community habitat enhancement programs, including recruiting, training and supervising over 500 volunteers annually. 
  • Collaborate with the City of Santa Cruz to direct water quality monitoring programs and implement best management practices based on storm water management plans and pathogen and other Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for the San Lorenzo River.  
  • Lead volunteers to follow safety protocols, collect water quality measurements and samples and ensure sample analysis is conducted following applicable quality assurance/quality control plans.  
  • Coordinate with City of Santa Cruz and other partners for event permitting, volunteer engagement, lab analysis of water quality samples, plant selection approval and contract management. 
  • Use, calibrate, troubleshoot and manage inventory of field equipment such as multi-parameter probes, meters and field kids. 
  • Analyze water quality and habitat data, author technical reports and develop infographics for internal use, funders and community education.  
  • Communicate about upcoming volunteer opportunities and stewardship actions through social media, email, blog posts, education programs and press outreach. Communicate regularly with volunteers and partner organizations through email, phone calls and meetings in order to enhance and maintain strong working relationships with river constituents. 
  • Implement CWC’s strategic plan utilizing CWC’s Theory of Change to transform the lower San Lorenzo River into a community destination by inspiring people to explore, enhance and protect this critical natural resource. Research and implement best practices in improving water quality and habitat, volunteer management, placemaking and behavior change. 
  • Evaluate and report on project outcomes, manage project and event budgets, send monthly invoices and complete reporting requirements for the community and funders. Perform other duties as assigned. 
Education & Experience (required): 
  • Bachelor’s degree in Watershed Science, Ecology, Plant Sciences, Biology, Hydrology, Environmental Science, Chemistry, Science Communications or related field. 
  • Minimum two (2) years’ experience in related field. 
Education & Experience (preferred): 
  • Advanced degree in related field. 
Knowledge, Skills & Abilities (required):  
  • Basic knowledge of environmental principles, river restoration practices and watershed concepts. 
  • Knowledge of water quality parameters including bacteria (including microbial source tracking tools), nutrients, pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, total suspended solids (TSS)/turbidity, metals, pesticides, etc. 
  • Knowledge of field protocols and methods for analysis of water quality samples (USEPA, Standard Methods, etc.). 
  • Knowledge of the following industry terms and their applicability to CWC's work: Basin Plan, TMDL, water quality objectives, Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPP), urban runoff, storm water, receiving waters, nonpoint source pollution, Fecal Indicator Bacteria (FIB), Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and hold times. 
  • Knowledge of ecological principles, native plant installation and mechanical invasive species removal. 
  • Basic knowledge of basic project-level reporting, accounting and bookkeeping practices. 
Knowledge, Skills & Abilities (preferred): 
  • Knowledge of water quality monitoring for surface waters and storm water runoff. 
  • Knowledge of restoration techniques for riparian corridors. 
  • Ability to lead volunteer outings in Spanish. 
  • Ability to write grant proposals and reports. 
  • Ability to assist CWC staff with external communications. 
  • Ability to plan and organize major events. 
  • Good understanding of social media and web development tools. 
  • Salesforce, Adobe Creative Suite, WordPress and statistical software packages skills. 
Additional Information:  
Direct Reports: None 
Travel Requirements: Minimal 
License and Certification Requirements: California Class C Driver’s License and proof of a good driving record as evidenced by freedom from multiple or serious traffic violations or accidents for at least two (2) years duration. 
Working Conditions:  
Working environment is generally favorable. Lighting and temperature are adequate, and there are no hazardous or unpleasant conditions caused by noise, dust, etc. Ability to lift and carry approximately 25 pounds. 
The above information on this description has been designed to indicate the general nature and level of work performed by employees within this classification. It is not designed to contain or be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities and qualifications required of employees assigned to this job. 
The Coastal Watershed Council reserves the right to alter this description at any time.  The Coastal Watershed Council practices the concept of equal employment opportunity with respect to hiring, promotions, transfers, pay discipline, fringe benefits, and all other terms and conditions of employment. No individual will be discriminated against, and no employment decisions will be made, on the basis of an individual’s race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, protected disability, marital status, familial status, veteran status, height, weight, or citizenship. 
To apply: 
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and due no later than Sunday, March 10.  
Submit your application via email to Laurie Egan, Programs Director at Please include: “River Scientist” in the subject line of your email and attach the following: 
  1. Resume or CV 
  2. Cover letter 
About the Coastal Watershed Council 
The Coastal Watershed Council is a dynamic and growing 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Santa Cruz, CA, working to transform the lower San Lorenzo River into a community destination by inspiring people to explore, enhance and protect this critical natural resource. When people care for the river, learn about its significance and build a connection to nature, it benefits the river ecosystem and the community. Learn more about CWC’s approach for a cleaner, healthier San Lorenzo River. 
CWC is committed to ensuring equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination. CWC prohibits unlawful discrimination in any term or condition of employment against any employee or applicant for employment because of the individual’s race, color, religion, gender, marital status, age, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, sexual orientation, medical condition, genetic information, disability, membership or service in the U.S. Armed Forces, or any other characteristic protected by law. This policy applies to all personnel transactions, including, but not limited to, recruitment, hiring, placement, training, compensation, benefits, leave of absence, transfer, promotion, demotion, discipline, layoff, and termination. Beyond following the law, CWC leadership is committed to making this the best place in the county to work, where we’re all proud of what we’re doing with the Santa Cruz community.