Ryan Waterman

Ryan Waterman



Leading land use, environmental and renewable energy attorney. Permitted nearly 800MW of wind, solar and battery storage projects throughout California. Trusted by more than 20 entities to solve complex water quality issues.

Ryan Waterman solves complex land use, water quality, renewable energy and hazardous substance issues. With first-hand experience navigating the inextricably linked issues of land use and water in California, Ryan possesses the insight needed to efficiently navigate the environmental challenges that arise during a wide range of development and redevelopment projects. Ryan skillfully works through permitting, administrative and litigation matters, keeping his client’s goals at the forefront. His deep familiarity with the land use entitlement process and CEQA/NEPA environmental review is an integral asset to successful project outcomes. Ryan serves as the editor of Brownstein's quarterly CEQA News You Can Use newsletter. 

From helping to secure federal and state water quality permits to counseling on contaminated sites, Ryan understands the complex decisions and options available to keep projects moving and appropriately handle remediation as needed. Ryan regularly defends clients against Clean Water Act citizen suits, as well as enforcement actions brought by the State Board and Regional Water Quality Control Boards, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and counties throughout California. Throughout his career, he has provided strategic guidance on multi-million dollar soil and groundwater remediation projects.

At the forefront of emerging issues, from pervasive contaminants to energy and water infrastructure development, Ryan helps his clients understand broad market implications and regulatory priorities to strategically position them for success.

Ryan maintains a robust pro bono practice and sits on the firm’s Pro Bono Committee.

Representative Matters

Recent Experience

  • Utility-Scale Solar and Battery Storage. Provide land use, permitting, and CEQA counsel for 90 MW solar / 90 MW battery energy storage project approved in San Diego County.

  • Urban Redevelopment. Provide land use, permitting, real estate, and CEQA counsel for large-scale redevelopment of Southern California regional mall.

  • Clean Water Act Citizen Suits. Defend Clean Water Act citizen suit action against multiple concrete batch plant locations throughout California.

  • Complex Remediation. Strategic guidance of remediation and management of large metals recycling facility under DTSC jurisdiction.

  • Energy Infrastructure. CEQA and permitting counsel on over 300 MW of battery energy storage projects throughout California.

  • Utility-Scale Solar. Provide land use, permitting and CEQA counsel for 168 MW solar project in San Diego County, including program- and project-level analysis for multiple solar projects. Utilize AB 900 litigation streamlining to compress litigation brought by community group down to 10 months and successfully defend permits in San Diego Superior Court.

  • Utility-Scale Solar, San Diego County. Provided land use, permitting and CEQA/NEPA counsel for 168 MW solar project in San Diego County, which included both program- and project-level analysis for multiple projects. Utilized AB 900 litigation streamlining to compress litigation brought by highly litigious community group down to 10 months and successfully defended permits in San Diego Superior Court.

  • Represent Central Valley solar project in federal and California endangered species act issues.

  • Represent solar project developer through diligence and acquisition for multiple projects in Southern California.

  • Successfully defended Major Use Permits for solar technology company and resolved pending CEQA litigation filed against the client, the County of San Diego, and other real parties in interest.

  • Client operates an innovative composting operation providing critical composting services for municipal and agricultural green waste and works in collaboration with university research scientists to investigate the potential for carbon sequestration and soil restoration. Brownstein successfully represented the client following the County taking the position that the client’s operations should be covered by a conditional use permit (CUP) and needed environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), opening their operations up to litigation risk as well as considerable expense. Brownstein successfully documented the right to operate by right, without a CUP, via a detailed accounting of County Code, and relevant exemptions. County withdrew its demand for a CUP application and CEQA review.

Insights & Publications



  • J.D., 2003, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
  • M.C.P., 2003, University of California, Berkeley
  • B.S., 1996, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo


  • 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, Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court


California Lawyers Association

California Association of Environmental Professionals

San Diego County Bar Association

California Stormwater Quality Association

San Diego Building Industry Association

Community Involvement


  Public Policy Committee, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Board Chair, Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County 

Executive Committee, Environmental Law Section, California State Bar (2014-2017)

Advisor to the Executive Committee of the California Lawyers' Association Environmental Law Section (2018-2019)



Thomson Reuters, Stand-out Lawyer