Convene a statewide educational conference for California’s state and local Latino elected officials to provide a forum for baseline knowledge about California’s water system to ensure effective participation in long-term water policy forums that will result in equitable and sustainable actions to ensure both an economy that works and an environment that is protected.
In 2012, a group of Latino water experts and community organizers across California began meeting to create what has become known as Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL).
These leaders represent a large constituency and have well-thought-out perspectives gained from experience at national, state, regional and local water agencies; environmental justice groups; conservation groups; and local political organizing campaigns. As such, they represent diverse interests and are not monolithic in their approaches.
Now in our fifth year, the group has organized four statewide conferences for Latino local elected officials that were held in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Palm Springs, and San Jose; two regional conferences in Temecula and Paso Robles in Fall 2016; and a Legislative Briefing at the State Capitol in January 2016 at the request of then-incoming Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.
Since WELL’s inception, over 200 of California’s 400 Latino city council members, mayors, and county supervisors have participated in the WELL Conferences. After the first year, their ranks were joined by Asian and African-American elected officials from around the state. At each individual conference, over 70% of the participants were first-time attendees of any water conference. WELL’s conferences have also highlighted issues such as the Bay-Delta and Salton Sea quagmires through popular tours offered in the day before a conference starts. Most recently, WELL was one of seven groups nationwide invited to speak at the White House Water Summit on March 22, 2016, to help raise awareness of water issues. Finally, WELL’s doors are open to all elected officials who wish to participate regardless of race and ethnicity.
In the next phase of its work, WELL will incorporate the impacts of Climate Change on water in California. Global Warming has serious impacts on the availability and quality of water in the golden state. WELL will discuss strategies to mitigate Climate Change and make adjustments in planning for the future of California cities.