Waterman, Ryan

Being mindful of the goal without getting lost in the details is a critical part of Ryan Waterman’s practice as a land use and environmental attorney.  Ryan’s deep familiarity with the land use entitlement process and CEQA/NEPA environmental review are foundational to his practice representing complex pre-approval entitlement and post-approval litigation in the trial and appellate courts.  Ryan also delivers strategic advice on California water permitting, regulations, and compliance related to water sufficiency, water quality, storm water permitting, groundwater, infrastructure and policy development. Ryan’s focus on land use and water links issues that go hand-in-hand in California.

Ryan has a long-standing commitment to providing pro bono legal services and strives to meet California’s pro bono challenge yearly.

Prior to joining Brownstein, Ryan was Of Counsel at Stoel Rives, LLP, in San Diego, and an associate at Latham & Watkins, LLP, in San Diego. From 2008 through 2012, Ryan co-taught an environmental law seminar as an adjunct professor of law at the University of San Diego, School of Law. Prior to entering private practice, Ryan served as a law clerk to the Honorable Jeanne E. Scott, U.S. District Judge in the Central District of Illinois.

Practices & Industries
Project Entitlement / Land Use / CEQA-NEPA

Ryan advises clients through all phases of the entitlement process and works closely with both clients and consultants to prepare legally defensible CEQA and NEPA documents.  Ryan represents a wide range of projects, including renewable energy, mixed use, residential, industrial, commercial, and infrastructure projects. 

Ryan regularly advises clients on California’s open meeting and public information statutes, including the Brown Act, Bagley-Keene Act, and Public Records Act.


Ryan’s litigation practice focuses on defending writ petitions challenging project entitlements and CEQA/NEPA documents, and defending federal Clean Water Act citizen suits. Ryan also represents clients in a diverse range of other environmental litigation matters in both state and federal court.

Water and Stormwater
Ryan assists his clients in complying with water quality permits and regulations, including the 2015 Industrial General Storm Water Permit, Construction General Permit, and San Diego MS4 Permit, rectifying upsets and regulatory actions and defending legal actions, including Clean Water Act citizen suits.
News & Events

Board Secretary, Board of Directors, Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County 

Executive Committee, California State Bar Environmental Law Section

Publications & Presentations
Brownstein Water Blog

Brownstein Water: Current Trends in Water Law & Policy
Visit water.bhfs.com for commentary and analysis of timely water law and policy issues. 


Industrial Storm Water Permittees Face New Challenge—TMDLs

Posted on March 23, 2016 by Brownstein Water Group

When the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Board”) adopted the Industrial General Storm Water Permit in 2014 (the “IGP”), the State Board reserved for a later day how to incorporate Total Maximum Daily Load (“TMDL”)-specific requirements for watersheds around the state into the IGP. Specifically, the State Board set July 1, 2016, as the... Continue Reading » 


Who Owns the Water?

Posted on February 12, 2016 by Brownstein Water Group

Water Rights Require Balance of Interest

Russ McGlothlin authored an article for the Pacific Coast Business Times on the common question of who owns the water in California? The piece, titled “Water Rights Require Balance of Interest” appeared in the January 29, 2016 publication. 


Brownstein’s Annual California Water Rights Compliance Checklist

Posted on January 26, 2016 by Brownstein Water Group

Brownstein’s California Water Group is pleased to provide you with our California Water Rights: Compliance Checklist for 2016. This Checklist provides a summary of state water right reporting requirements and applicable deadlines for users of surface water and groundwater in California. Use the link below to find: Our summary of filings required for all surface water and… Continue Reading »


    • J.D., 2003, UC Berkeley School of Law
    • B.S., 1996, California Polytechnic State University
    • M.C.P., 2003, University of California at Berkeley
    • California
    • U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
    • U.S. District Court, Central District of California
    • U.S. District Court, Southern District of California
    • U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
    • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
    • U.S. Supreme Court

    Bioenergy Association of California

    California State Bar Association

    California Association of Environmental Professionals

    San Diego Chamber of Commerce, Energy & Water Subcommittee

    San Diego County Bar Association