Ernest Conant, the Former Regional Director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Joins Downey Brand

June 24, 2024

(SACRAMENTO, CA) Downey Brand LLP, a leading full-service law firm renowned for its statewide expertise in water, environmental, and natural resources law, is pleased to announce that Ernest Conant, a distinguished water law attorney and the former Regional Director of the California-Great Basin Region of the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of the Interior (Reclamation), joined the firm’s Natural Resources Department as Counsel on June 24, 2024.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ernest to the firm,” said Kevin O’Brien, senior water law partner at Downey Brand. “Ernest is an exceptional lawyer and problem solver.  His recent work at Reclamation placed him at the center of some of our nation’s most challenging water and environmental issues, and he performed with great distinction.  As a water lawyer prior to joining Reclamation, Ernest played a pivotal role in some of California’s most important water and infrastructure projects. His expertise will be invaluable to the firm and its clients.”

Ernest joined Reclamation as Regional Director of the California-Great Basin Region in 2019. During his tenure, he led the management, development, and protection of water and related resources throughout California, Nevada, and Southern Oregon, including the Central Valley Project, one of the largest and most complex wholesale water systems in the nation. Prior to joining Reclamation, Ernest was a partner at the law firm Young Woolridge LLP in Bakersfield, CA., where he practiced for 39 years, serving as general and special counsel for various water and irrigation districts, community services districts, and joint power authorities.

Among his many achievements, Ernest played a key role in the development of major groundwater banking and storage projects, including the Kern Water Bank, Semitropic Water Banking Project, and Arvin-Edison Metropolitan Banking Project. Additionally, he was instrumental in assisting Kern County interests with developing and implementing the Monterey Amendments to the State Water Project water supply contracts.

“I am very excited to join Downey Brand and its esteemed team of legal professionals,” said Ernest Conant. “The firm’s commitment to excellence and its reputation in water law make it an ideal place to continue my career. I look forward to contributing to the firm’s success and engaging in impactful projects that benefit the firm’s clients and their communities.”

Ernest earned his J.D. from Pepperdine University School of Law in 1979 and his B.S. from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

More About Downey Brand and Its Water and Natural Resource Practice

Founded in 1926, Downey Brand is a full-service law firm well-known for its deep industry knowledge in water, natural resources, and environmental law, as well as its breadth and strength in litigation, business, family law, and trusts and estates.  With more than 100 attorneys, it is the largest law firm headquartered in Sacramento, with additional offices in San Francisco and Stockton.

The firm’s Natural Resources Department is one of the largest and most diverse practice groups of its kind in California. With 35 attorneys, it’s a multi-disciplinary team with deep experience handling litigation and regulatory compliance in a broad spectrum of specialties, including all aspects of water, land, and air. Areas of expertise within the department include water rights, flood protection, water quality, endangered species, energy, public utility regulation, land use, environmental, hazardous waste and toxics, air quality, and climate change. For more information, visit