Finding practical and effective solutions for significant water challenges in California and the West.

Western Water Strategies is a consulting company committed to providing leadership in developing and implementing water policies that strengthen the economy, environment, and communities, through its work with diverse clients.

Analysis & Advocacy

Policy analysis, agency and legislative advocacy on a broad range of water policy issues.

Bridge Building

Coalition building among a wide variety of stakeholders, including NGOs, water agencies, business interests and others.

Research & Communications

Policy and regulatory research, technical writing, media, content, and strategy.

Planning & Development

Strategic planning, organizational development, and fundraising consulting.

For more than 30 years, Western Water Strategies founder, Barry Nelson has been a thought leader, coalition builder, and advocate in finding practical, effective solutions for significant water challenges in California and around the West.

Barry Nelson, Founder and Consultant

Professional Experience

Western Water Strategies
Berkeley, CA
2013 – Present

San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
California State Senate appointee 

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
San Francisco CA
Senior Policy Analyst
1999 – 2013

Led and co-led NRDC’s water policy work in California and the West

Save San Francisco Bay Association
Oakland, CA
Senior Fellow 1997-1999
Executive Director 1988 – 1997
Field Coordinator 1984 – 1988

Achievements & Accomplishments

  • First ever peer-reviewed analysis of water storage built and planned in California in the past 40 years. (2017)
  • Proposition 68 funds for salmon restoration and multi-benefit flood management (2017)
  • Passage of SJR 7, which directed state agencies to make salmon restoration a priority.
  • Dramatic increase in media coverage and public awareness of multi-benefit flood management solutions in California (2016-17)
  • State of California convening of a Water Technology Summit (2015)
  • Dedication of $100 million to water use efficiency in Proposition 1. (2014)
  • Increased awareness of new water technologies, including inclusion in the State Water Plan update. (2014)
  • Development of Wetter or Not, an ambitious NGO drought response agenda. (2014)
  • Thought-leading reports regarding climate change and water, energy, and water and proposed water pipeline projects around the West.
  • Portfolio-based conceptual alternative to address long-term Bay-Delta water supply and ecosystem challenges. Supporters included environmental groups, business organizations, Northern and Southern California urban water agencies, media and much of the Bay Area congressional delegation. (2013)
  • Technical advisor in the development of Watershed, a film about the Colorado River produced by the Redford Center. (2012)
  • Founding board member of the Golden Gate Salmon Association, which has united the California salmon fishing community to advocate for Bay-Delta restoration and sustainable water policies. (2011)

  • Passage of the Delta Reform Act, the most important California water reform legislation in decades. Key requirements include: creating a state-wide conservation goal of reducing per capita water use 20 percent by 2020; establishing a state policy of reducing reliance on Delta water; and creating the Delta Stewardship Council. (2009)
  • Strengthened support for the restoration of the San Joaquin River and passage of the San Joaquin River Restoration Act, originally sponsored by Congressmen George Miller and Richard Pombo. (2004-2006)
  • Strategic planning effort to unify NRDC’s water work into a single nation-wide institutional priority. (2005-2008)
  • Passage of legislation requiring all unmetered communities in CA to install water meters. (2003 & 2004)
  • Adoption of the CALFED Bay-Delta Program Plan. (2000)
  • Founding board member of Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE), a national coalition working to create a federal estuarine habitat restoration program. (1995)
  • Passage of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, the most far-reaching water policy reform bill passed by Congress. (1992)
  • Creation of a new San Francisco Bay dredging strategy, including significant wetland restoration and collaborative solutions with the Port of Oakland and other business interests.
  • Successful legal, regulatory and legislative effort to save thousands of acres of SF Bay wetlands.
  • The development of public parks and miles of public access in the Marina Bay neighborhood in Richmond.

Contact Us Today!

Let’s start the conversation

If you’d like to enlist the professional consulting services of Barry Nelson and Western Water Strategies, please fill out the contact form at right and we’ll get back to you shortly. You can also reach us by telephone at 510-340-1685.


Western Water Strategies
Berkeley, California

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