Our Expert Staff

WRA’s team of experts has three decades of working where decisions are made, sweating the details, creating evidence-based solutions, and holding decision makers accountable.

John Cyran

Senior Attorney


Healthy Rivers

Office Location

Boulder, Colorado

Area of Focus

John is a seasoned attorney with extensive expertise and experience in a broad variety of Western water rights and water rights administration matters.  He uses this wealth of experience to seek out practical solutions to protecting and improving our Western rivers and environment in a manner that serves and sustains our recreators, farmers, and communities.

Since joining WRA in April 2020, he has worked to make water law in Colorado and across the region more responsive to environmental concerns. John collaborates with water decision makers, providers, agencies, and partners to craft innovative legal tools for using water more efficiently, thereby keeping more water in rivers, avoiding unnecessary water projects, and improving water security. He uses policy solutions such as instream flow water rights and recreational in-channel diversions, and, when necessary, leads litigation efforts to improve safeguards for rivers for the people and wildlife that depend on them.


Prior to joining WRA, John was a managing partner at Confluence Water Law and had his own boutique firm in Denver specializing in water rights, litigation, real estate, and tribal law. He also served as a water referee with the Colorado Judicial Branch, where he was responsible for developing and implementing strategies for increasing the efficiency of the judicial process for water adjudications in Water Division No. 1.

John also spent 15 years with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, which culminated into his role as First Assistant Attorney General in charge of the State’s Water Unit. During his time there, he represented the Colorado Water Conservation Board in its work to protect Colorado rivers; served as chief counsel for the Colorado state engineer on all state water matters; and helped represent Colorado in negotiations involving the Colorado River, the latter of which resulted in the historic 2007 Interim Guidelines and seven-state agreement for cooperative management of the river.


Having practiced law in Colorado for roughly three decades, John has prevailed on multiple arguments before the state Supreme Court. One of his proudest accomplishments is winning a landmark case safeguarding instream flows in Colorado while with the attorney general’s office. The case, one of the most significant decisions in the history of the state’s instream flow program, affirmed Colorado’s ability to protect flows in rivers as against new uses for the benefit of fish, the environment, and the rivers themselves.

After working on water issues large and small – from those of concern to individual farmers to those impacting the entire Colorado River Basin – and seeing the water crisis in the West unfold, John was driven to dedicate the rest of his career to solving the region’s water problems. Upon joining WRA, he was excited to influence state and inter-state water policy and use his wide variety of experience to help the West navigate a future with less. Whether it’s conferring with a local official or drafting new statewide legislation, John has proven he has the know-how to solve some of the West’s toughest water problems through cost-effective and common-sense solutions.

He currently serves on the University of Denver Water Law Review Advisory Board.


  • Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Cornell University
  • Juris Doctorate from the University of Colorado and graduated Order of the Coif

Favorite thing about the West

Spending time in the mountains with his family.

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