(323) 349-0661 info@latinosforwater.org

August 2023 Newsletter

What’s New With WELL

  • Calling all local elected officials! Join the next WELL UnTapped Fellowship Class: Applications are now open to join the next cohort of elected leaders who are working to address their community’s water challenges, starting in January 2024.
  • WELL AAPI UnTapped Fellowship Class of 2023 hosts two dynamic sessions in August: The cohort of local elected officials gathered in Owen’s Valley to learn about the region’s water challenges, history, and receive training in the skill of Public Narrative. Fellows also interviewed Dr. Vicky Espinoza to learn more about the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and groundwater.
  • Upcoming WELL events near you: Graduates of the WELL UnTapped Fellowship Program will be hosting water workshops to discuss regional water challenges with local leaders in the cities of Calistoga, Baldwin Park, Rialto, and Visalia.
  • Partner Spotlight: Learn about new collaborations, major achievements, and what positive impacts our partners are making in California in the water sector.
  • California Water News: Catch some of the latest noteworthy water news from the month of August.
  • WELL Associate Members: Want to support WELL’s mission? Become an Associate Member today! View our current members and find out more about the process in the link below.

August Newsletter Commentary: 

California experienced its first tropical storm in 84 years this month. Hurricane Hillary flooded roads, toppled trees, and marched northward, prompting flood watches and warnings in a half dozen states. During this rare phenomenon, another natural disaster hit, an earthquake! And, as our state continues to grapple with the effects of climate change and the aridification of the West, our most vital resource continues to be at risk … water!

These heavy rain events demonstrate that climate extremes, in the form of both dry and wet years, have made planning for our water resources that much harder. During periods of drought, water allocations are reduced, and it is our Latino communities that are being hit the hardest. These effects heavily impact the industries Latinos work in, such as agriculture, manufacturing, and construction.

What our communities need are robust solutions with a diverse portfolio of actions. Part of those actions is education. Local elected Latino officials must be educated about California’s water challenges in order to put their community’s needs first. The WELL UnTapped Fellowship Program provides this learning opportunity, helping officials to understand California’s complex water issues and giving them the opportunities to solve them. We urge all local elected Latino officials to apply and be part of the solutions our communities need. Nominations are also open and can be shared with our Program Manager, Stephanie Nava-Angeles at stephanie@latinosforwater.org.

Another way you can be educated about California’s water challenges is at our annual conference, which will be held in San Jose in March 2024! RSVP today to be the first to find out when registration opens.

¡Sí Se Puede!


Victor Griego                                                   Paul C. Hernandez
Founder and Board President                     Executive Director

WELL UnTapped Fellowship Program

How is California’s water history impacting your community? Who is responsible for clean and affordable water in your region? What impacts do increasing water rates have on your local water infrastructure? 

WELL is currently recruiting for our next cohort of the WELL UnTapped Fellowship Program. UnTapped is a selective, six-month program for local elected leaders that helps participants make an impact on California water policy while addressing individual community water challenges.

UnTapped sessions currently follow a hybrid model, with four in-person meetings at various watersheds throughout California and four online sessions. Content includes a discussion with water professionals and skill-based exercises that help participants ask better public policy questions and strengthen public speaking and relational skills.

Once UnTapped fellows graduate from the program, they are inducted into the WELL UnTapped Network (WUN), where they can continue to engage in learning and training opportunities focused on California water policy. Having such an extensive network means that together we can make our communities more resilient in the face of ongoing water challenges.

The cost to participate in the UnTapped Fellowship Program is $3,000 for city council members, county supervisors, and school board members, and $4,000 for water district directors.

WELL UnTapped Fellowship 2024 Session Dates:

  • In-person: Friday, January 19 – Sunday, January 21, 2024
  • In-person: Friday, February 9 – Saturday, February 10, 2024
  • Virtual #1: Thursday, February 29, 2024, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
  • WELL Annual Conference, March 2024
  • Virtual #2: Thursday, March 28, 2024, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
  • In-person: Friday, April 12 – Saturday, April 13, 2024
  • Virtual #3: Thursday, April 25, 2024, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
  • Virtual #4: Thursday, May 9, 2024, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
  • Sacramento: Wednesday, May 22 – Thursday, May 23, 2024

SAVE THE DATE: WELL’s 12th Annual Conference 

SAVE THE DATE: The Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL) 12th Annual Statewide Conference will be held from Friday, March 15 to Saturday, March 16, 2023, in San Jose!

Climate change is impacting our water resources. This is why local elected officials need to understand the water challenges we are facing and the impacts on your community.

WELL will bring together top water policy experts and practitioners to share their knowledge on California’s top water challenges and the opportunities to mitigate the impacts. 

How will state cutbacks affect our local water supplies? What are the competing interests in managing our water resources? What job opportunities can be created by investing in our water resources? Join us at our annual conference to expand your water knowledge, better understand these evolving public policy issues, and help provide water solutions for your community.

WELL-AAPI UnTapped Fellowship Session 2

The second session for the WELL-AAPI UnTapped Fellowship Class of 2023 in Owen’s Valley, CA was held August 4–5, 2023. This weekend provided Fellows with a look into the conveyance systems in our state and at water governance. The session also included training on Public Narrative that brought the Fellows discovery and connection! 

The first stop of the session was a tour of the Manzanar National Historic Site to learn about the experience of Japanese Americans during WWII and the water history of Owen’s Valley. Afterward, the cohort was engaged in discussions with Adam Perez, Manager, Los Angeles Aqueduct, and Lori Dermody, Environmental Affairs Officer from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). This discussion included a tour of the aqueduct and the Alabama Hills Gate and allowed fellows the opportunity to learn about LADWP’s history and mitigation projects. 

Later in the day, the cohort interviewed Noah Williams, Water Program Coordinator, Big Pine Paiute Tribe. Noah provided the cohort with the tribe’s perspective on water preservation and its cultural significance. 

Night 1 ended with a movie screening of Manzanar Diverted at the Museum of Western Film History. Screening the movie allowed the cohort to have a visual connection to the curriculum learned throughout the day.

On Day 2 the Fellows received an all-day training on Public Narrative by Jake Waxman. This powerful leadership skill allows Fellows the ability to hone their personal stories and learn to share their values in order to inspire collective action. Fellows practiced their stories of “self, us, and now” to prepare them for their WELL Legislative Workshop. The workshop allows Fellows the opportunity to share their water knowledge and invite other local elected officials to learn about California water issues in their regions. 

The session ended with a moment of unity in singing “De Colores.” Fellows left with a renewed sense of purpose for tackling California’s water challenges. 


WELL-AAPI UnTapped Fellowship Session 3

On August 24, 2023, WELL hosted the third UnTapped Fellowship virtual session for the class of 2023. 

The fellows interviewed Dr. Vicky Espinoza, Project Manager-Strategic Restoration, California Water Program, The Nature Conservancy. This session focused on teaching the fellows about the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and groundwater. These topics help educate the fellows about competing interests when managing water resources.

Upcoming WELL Events


Dr. Sabrina Bow, President, Azusa Unified School District, and WELL UnTapped Fellowship Graduate, Class of 2023: Dr. Bow has joined the Woodcraft Rangers Board of Directors. As a public school educator serving Title I schools for nearly 20 years, the values of Woodcraft Rangers align with Dr. Bow’s personal values. The mission of Woodcraft Rangers is to guide young people as they explore pathways to purposeful lives via after-school programs, a summer camp, and equity in education.

Jorgel Chavez, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Bell Gardens, and WELL UnTapped Fellowship Graduate, Class of 2023: Mayor Pro Tem Chavez, alongside Mayor Elizabeth Alcantar, City of Cudahy, shared their experience serving on their city councils with the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Program. These rising juniors and seniors from all over LA County have used these opportunities to learn about how they can best serve their communities.

Anna Velazquez, Mayor, City of Soledad, and WELL UnTapped Fellowship Graduate, Class of 2023: Mayor Velazquez, celebrated the opening of the new Orchard Lane Park which includes an all-abilities playground, skate park, and dog park. Mayor Anna Velazquez played a crucial role in the planning of the park and shared about it as a testament to community engagement. This project is personal to her, as her younger sister Rosa has a disability, and she knows what it means for kids of different abilities to go to a playground. The cost of the Orchard Lane Park project was $7.7 million; it was funded with state money from Proposition 68, a $4 billion bond that passed in 2018 and allocated money for park, flood protection, and water infrastructure projects.


WELL Partner Highlights

California Water Data Summit: WELL Boardmember Joone Kim Lopez is a founding member of The California Data Collaborative, a nonprofit representing 21 million Californians, which is focused on leveraging data and technology to enhance statewide water management policies. The California Data Collaborative and Smart Water Networks Forum (SWAN) will be hosting the 8th Annual Water Data Summit at Stanford University September 7–8, 2023. Click here to learn more and register.

California Water Association (CWA): Jennifer Capitolo, Executive Director, CWA was a guest on the podcast SacTown Talks. The episode covered the current state of water in California and affordability, tap water, water conservation, environmental regulations, and water storage. Click here to view the full episode.

The Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD): WRD partnered with TreePeople and the City of Inglewood to offer an Eco Gardener Workshop and Tree Giveaway for residents. More than 60 attendees learned about sustainable edible gardening and received their own fruit trees. These events help to educate the community on conservation efforts they can implement to reduce outdoor water usage.

West Valley Water District (WVWD): WVWD earned the Triple Crown award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), which recognized the efficacy of financial documents prepared for Fiscal Year 2021. WVWD was one of only 331 organizations across the United States and Canada to receive the honor. The Triple Crown recognizes governments that have received GFOA’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award, and the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. As the West Valley Water District continues to invest in its communities, it is paramount that ratepayer funds are managed responsibly, and this award demonstrates that its finance team is doing just that.

California Water News—August

Worried you may have missed some important recent water news? WELL has you covered! Here is a sample of noteworthy water news during the month of August.

Follow WELL on Social Media!

Follow WELL on social media to get current California water news and updates about WELL programs and events:

 Water Education for Latino Leaders



 Water Education for Latino Leaders

Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL) educates local Latino elected officials on California water policies to promote timely and equitable actions that strive to develop a robust economy, healthy communities, and a resilient environment for all Californians. Visit our website: www.latinosforwater.org.

WELL Associate Members

The WELL Associate Member program, established in 2020, connects organizations to Latino leaders who share similar interests, allowing members to strategize about the best ways to solve California’s water challenges. The participation of our Associate Members is a key component of our mutual continued success. We thank our Associate Members, listed below, for their support. If you would like to learn more about the Associate Member Program, please visit latinosforwater.org/associatemembers.