Annual WELL Conferences
- 2023 Conference, Van Nuys
- 2022 Conference, Pico Rivera
- 2022 Conference, Selma
- 2021 Conference, Virtual
- 2020 Conference, Virtual
- 2019 Conference, Long Beach
- 2018 Conference, Sacramento
- 2017 Conference, San Diego
- 2016 Conference, San Jose
- 2015 Conference, Palm Springs
- 2014 Conference, Sacramento
- 2013 Conference, Los Angeles
WELL’s 11th Annual Statewide Conference will take place on Friday, March 31 – Saturday, April 1, 2023, at the Airtel Plaza Hotel in Van Nuys, CA.
Water is one of the top public policy issues affecting our state. Are you involved in the water discussion? Join us to learn more about this critical issue and help support your residents and local economy as the state faces the fourth year of drought.
March 31: 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm – Evening Reception
Keynote Speaker: Grace F. Napolitano, Congresswoman, CA D-31
April 1: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm – Conference
Morning Keynote Speaker: Dolores Huerta, President and Founder, Dolores Huerta Foundation
Lunchtime Keynote Speaker: Barbara Romero, Director and General Manager, LA Sanitation & Environment
MC: Dr. Sabrina Bow, President, Azusa Unified School District, and UnTapped Fellowship Fellow, Class of 2023
MC: Anna Velazquez, Mayor, City of Soledad, and UnTapped Fellowship Fellow, Class of 2023
Panel 1: What are the impacts of a hotter, more extreme climate in California’s various regions?
Description: Panelists will discuss the water impacts we are experiencing statewide and regionally. Questions to ask include: How are residents being impacted in rural and urban areas? What are the lasting impacts of aridification on our water resources? What are the challenges to California’s water portfolio?
Moderator: Elsa Mejia, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Madera, and UnTapped Fellowship Fellow, Class of 2023
Kristina Dahl, Principal Climate Scientist, Union for Concerned ScientistTony Estremera, Director, Santa Clara Valley Water District, and Boardmember, WELLGokce Sencan, Research Associate, PPIC Water Policy Center
Panel 2: What changes do water suppliers need to make in order to adapt to and combat the impacts of a hotter and drier climate?
Description: Panelists will discuss the impacts on California’s water infrastructure due to a changing climate and the solutions that must be implemented to ensure our water resources meet demand. Questions to ask include: Who are the regional water suppliers, and who is responsible for managing these water supplies? What natural and built infrastructure makeup California’s water portfolio, and what infrastructure changes should we expect in the future? What should our infrastructure look like in 5 to 10 years, and how do we fund it?
Moderator: Jazmin Lopez Leos, Director, Valley County Water District and UnTapped Fellowship Fellow, Class of 2023
Anselmo Collins, Senior Assistant General Manager – Water System, Los Angeles Department of Water and PowerJoone Kim Lopez, General Manager, Moulton Niguel Water District, and Boardmember, WELLZoe Rodriguez Del Rey, Water Resources Manager, Coachella Valley Water District
Panel 3: What strategies can be implemented to mitigate the impacts of California’s water challenges on our economies, communities, and environment?
Description: Panelists will share strategies that have been implemented in different cities, counties, and states to proactively combat the impact of a drier climate and the consequences of not implementing these solutions earlier. Questions to ask include: What types of policies or programs have been implemented as best practices outside of California? What changes must be made at the state, local, and residential levels in order to see the greatest benefit? How can local elected officials work with water suppliers to help implement these solutions?
Moderator: Brenda Olmos, Councilmember, City of Paramount, and UnTapped Fellowship Fellow, Class of 2023
Adekunle Ojo, Water Resources Manager, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water DistrictTracy Quinn, Chief Executive Officer, Heal the Bay, and Boardmember, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern CaliforniaJoe Yun, Executive Officer, California Water Commission
Click here to view photos from the Southern California Conference.
Click here to view presentations from the panelists.
2022 is WELL’s 10-year anniversary, to celebrate we are hosting a conference series. The second conference will take place from Friday, June 10 to Saturday, June 11, 2022, at the Water Replenishment District of Southern California, Albert Robles Center for Water Recycling and Environmental Learning in Pico Rivera, CA.
Water is one of the top public policy issues affecting our state. Are you involved in the water discussion? Join us to learn more about this critical issue and help support your residents and local economy as the state faces a third year of drought.
June 10: 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm – Tour of Water Replenishment District of Southern California, Albert Robles Center for Water Recycling and Environmental Learning; Evening Reception
June 11: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm – Conference
Panel 1: How is climate change impacting our water supply, and are cities prepared for the future?Description: Panelists will discuss the consequences of climate change on the water industry. They will discuss questions such as: What are the environmental and human-induced factors causing climate change? What are the impacts of rising temperatures on the frequency of extended drought periods, natural and built infrastructure, and wildfires?
Moderator: Sherry Wanninger, Director, Moulton Niguel Water District
Shivaji Deshmukh, General Manager, Inland Empire Utilities Agency
Vanessa Velasco, Senior Environmental Scientist – Specialist, Climate Change Specialist | Southern Region Office, California Department of Water Resources
Dr. Tapan Pathak, Specialist in Climate Adaptation in Agriculture, UC Merced – Sierra Nevada Research Institute
Panel 2: What is driving the rising costs of delivering water to residents and businesses, and what resources and strategies are available to mitigate such costs?Description: Panelists will share strategies and programs to help offset the cost of rising water prices and grant opportunities for infrastructure improvement projects. They will discuss questions such as: How would a water rate increase affect residents and businesses? How are conservation efforts, aging infrastructure, regulatory compliance, and contaminants impacting the financial outlook for local water agencies? How can local officials protect vulnerable ratepayers under the confines of Prop 218 and Prop 26? How can the public financial burden of water investment projects be minimized?
Moderator: Dr. Monica Sanchez, Mayor, City of Pico Rivera
Meg McWade, Director of Public Works, City of Fullerton
Anselmo Collins, Senior Assistant General Manager of the Water System, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
Dr. Maura Allaire, Assistant Professor, UC Irvine
Small-Group Discussion: How can you prepare your constituents for increased water rates?Description: Attendees will break into small groups and select a moderator to lead this discussion on how local elected officials can prepare residents and businesses for upcoming water rate increases.
Moderator: David Muse, Vice President, Valley County Water District
Panel 3: What new water initiatives could lead Californians toward sustainable water usage in the future?Description: Panelists will discuss current water projects and policy initiatives in California to show how diversifying the water supply and improving water efficiency will lessen the demand for imported water to large metropolitan communities. Questions to ask include: Where does all of California’s imported water end up after it is used? Can water supplies be increased without importing new water? What are other regions doing to be more efficient with their water usage?
Moderator: Danielle Soto, Director – Division VI, Three Valleys Municipal Water District
Gregory Pierce, Co-Director, UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation
Esther Valle Rojas, Manager of Watermaster Services & Water Resources, Water Replenishment District of Southern California
Kurt Schwabe, Associate Dean/Professor of Environmental Economics and Policy, School of Public Policy, UC Riverside
Traveling from out of town?
Doubletree by Hilton – Whittier Los Angeles7320 Greenleaf Avenue, Whittier, CA 90602
Hotel Telephone Number: (562) 945-8511
Click here to view photos from the Central Valley Conference.
Click here to view presentations from the panelists.
2022 is WELL’s 10-year anniversary, to celebrate we are hosting a conference series held in-person. The first conference will bring attention to the Central Valley region by hosting it in Selma, CA on Saturday, April 2, 2022. This year it is important to bring our attention to the Central Valley region because its communities are disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of the drought, and a lack of access to clean, affordable drinking water.
Each year we bring together leaders from across California with the aim of helping them learn best practices in water management, innovative solutions for water disparities and challenges, and how to better access financial resources that address both. Conference speakers will share their expert knowledge to help local leaders drive solutions for California’s water challenges.
Registration is now open.
Betty T. Yee, California State Controller
Mark Arax, Journalist & Author
Irais Lopez-Ortega, Councilmember, City of Calistoga, VP Board of Directors of WELL, and UnTapped Fellowship Class of 2019
Olivia Trujillo, Mayor, City of Arvin and UnTapped Fellowship Class of 2020
Panel 1: From Water Policy to Project ImplementationOver the past decade, California has passed several policies and bonds aimed at addressing water disparities in small and rural communities throughout the state. How these funds get disbursed then becomes a challenge for state officials. On the procurement side, communities are also struggling with the process. These challenges are hindering the solutions to the water disparities these communities face. The panel will discuss current funding available to help a variety of water disparities. They will also share tools to help local leaders tap into technical support resources that will help them successfully bring small communities, like the ones in the Central Valley region, access to clean, affordable drinking water.
County of Tulare: Eddie Valero, Supervisor/Chairman
Office of California Governor Galvin Newsom: Maria Herrera, Central California Regional Director, External AffairsCalifornia State Water Resources Control Board: Laurel Firestone, Board MemberCounty of Tulare: Denise England, Water Resources Program Director
Panel 2: An update on SGMA and the implementation of Groundwater Sustainability PlansIn 2014, the California Department of Water Resources passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which created 515 entities known as Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs). These agencies are tasked with developing and implementing groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs). The goal of the GSPs is to outline how the agencies will sustainably manage their water use in order to mitigate water overdrafts within 20 years. Meeting this goal has become difficult for communities that rely significantly on groundwater usage. The panel will provide a SGMA timeline and highlight the barriers community leaders have faced in attempting to comply with this policy. The panel will share how they have overcome those barriers and provide creative solutions to meet sustainable water usage goals.
Fresno Irrigation District: Gary R. Serrato, Former General Manager
North Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency: Kassy Chauhan, Executive DirectorCounty of Ventura: Carmen Ramirez, Supervisor/ChairwomanUnited Water Conservation District: Mauricio Guardado, General Manager
Panel 3:The Economic Impacts of Drought and Potential Solutions for CommunitiesWith drought conditions that have worsened in the past two years, communities are facing critical water shortages. These shortages are impacting our farms and development projects, both of which are critical to boosting California city economies. This economic problem has become increasingly urgent as the climate crisis has made water shortages more severe. The panel will address water shortages and share some of the challenges and innovative solutions local leaders are implementing to boost their local economies.
City of Antioch: Monica E. Wilson, Councilmember
Madera County Water and Natual Resources Department: Stephanie Anagnoson, DirectorTulare County Resource Management Agency: Michael Washman, Associate DirectorSelf-Help Enterprises: Tom Collishaw, CEOCalifornia Water Service: Ken Jenkins, Chief Water Resource Sustainability Officer
The WELL 2021 Virtual Conference on May 27th aims to bring the link between water and the economy into the spotlight. While the world remains focused on the ongoing pandemic and subsequent economic challenges, WELL will highlight how water plays a pivotal role in the state’s economic recovery. This all-encompassing conference will leave people walking away with this key takeaway: Water is a gift, and if cared for properly, it can play an important role in the state’s most pressing economic and social problems.
Watch the conference recordings here:
While it is our priority to make our educational content free and accessible to all, WELL is funded in part by your generous donations. Please consider supporting this WELL Virtual Conference by making a donation upon registering. Our suggested donation is $50, but we will gratefully accept anything you are able to give. Every dollar counts, and we appreciate your support!
WELL convened its state-wide educational water conference for local elected officials virtually on November 13, 2020. The WELL Virtual Conference provided elected officials with a better understanding of important water issues in order to maximize the positive impact they have in their communities.
Watch the conference recordings here:
9:45AM | Conference Launch
10:00AM | Morning Reception
10:30AM | Panel 1: Preparing Our Water Infrastructure for the Next 100 Years
11:20AM | Panel 2: Smart Growth in the Face of Water Stress 2020
12:05PM | Networking & Lunch Break
12:40PM | Panel 3: The Politics and Policies of Groundwater
1:20PM | Closing Remarks
1:30PM | Option Social (Half) Hour
2:00PM | Adjourn
DAY 1: Thursday, March 22, 2018
10:00 AM – 4:30 PM TOUR OF SAN JOAQUIN SACRAMENTO BAY DELTA
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director, Save the Delta
Curt Schmutte, Engineer, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
5:30 PM – 7:00 PM WELL RECEPTION
Pedro Nava, Former Assembly Member and current Chair, Little Hoover Commission
DAY 2: Friday, March 23, 2018
8:00 AM BREAKFAST
8:30 AM WELCOME
UnTapped Fellows, WELL video presentation
9:00 AM – 10:15 AM MANAGING FLOODS PANEL DISCUSSION
Tapping into Financial Resources and Building Collaborative Relationships to Better Protect Your Community
Tony Estremera, Director, Santa Clara Valley Water DistrictArt Hinojosa, Chief of Integrated Regional Water Management, Department of Water ResourcesJosephine Axt, Chief of Planning Division, Los Angeles District, U.S. Army Corps of EngineersModerator: Corina Lopez, City Councilwoman, City of San Leandro
10:15 AM – 10:35 AM BREAK
10:35 AM – 11:50 PM INVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE PANEL DISCUSSION
Managing Stormwater to Increase Supplies
Paul Alva, Assistant Deputy Director, Los Angeles County Dept. of Public WorksAndrew Fahlund, Senior Program Officer, The Water FoundationSam Pedroza, City Councilmember, City of ClaremontModerator: Acquanetta Warren, Mayor, City of Fontana
11:50 PM – 1:05 PM LUNCH AND SPEAKER
Norma Galindo, Board of Directors, Division 5, Imperial Irrigation DistrictDr. Mindy Romero, Founder and Director, UC Davis California Civic Engagement Project
1:10PM – 2:25PM EARTHQUAKES, FIRES & SUBSIDENCE PANEL DISCUSSION
Preventing Interruptions to Regional Water Infrastructure and Accessing Emergency Funding
Jay Lund, Professor of Civil Engineering, UC Davis Center for Watershed SciencesEric Lamoureux, Acting Deputy Director, Response and Recovery, Office of Emergency ServicesAlvaro Preciado, Mayor, City of AvenalModerator: Carmen Ramirez, City Councilwoman, City of Oxnard
2017 Annual Conference in San Diego, CA
WELL is convening a state-wide educational water conference on March 23-24th, 2017 in San Diego for California local elected officials. Local elected officials can make a difference for all Californians by taking the necessary steps to understand the dynamic of California water to assure adequate clean water for our communities, and protect our natural resources and our local economies.
Our hope is to facilitate understanding toward comprehensive long-term water policies that will sustain California’s economy and quality of life.
We invite you to participate!
Limited scholarships are available, RSVP soon!
Sponsored by Water Education for Latino Leaders, Water Foundation, & Public Policy Institute of California.
To download the flyer for the conference, click here.
Wyndham Hotel Bayside Hotel 1355 N Harbor Dr. San Diego, CA 92101
Day 1 – Thursday, March 23, 2017
11:00 AM – 3:00 PM TOUR OF PURE WATER SAN DIEGO: A Potable Re-Use Facility
Facilitator: Pete Silva, WELL Board MemberSpeaker: Halla Razak, Public Utilities Director of the City of San Diego
3:30 PM – 5:00 PM PANEL DISCUSSION: Challenges to Water Infrastructure Projects
Moderator: Pete Silva, WELL Board MemberSpeaker: Mark Watton, General Manager of Otay Water District
5:00 PM – 6:30 PM WELL RECEPTION
Speakers:Assemblymember Eduardo GarciaCouncilmember David Alvarez, City of San Diego
Day 2 – Friday, March 24, 2017
8:00 AM – 9:00 AM BREAKFAST AND WELCOME
9:00 AM – 10:30 AM GOVERNANCE OF WATER PANEL DISCUSSION: How to Get Elected and Appointed to a Water Board
Moderator: Nancy Sutley, WELL Board MemberSpeakers:Karina Cervantez, Board Member of the State Water Resources Control BoardMayor Albert Robles, City of Carson and Director of the Water Replenishment District
10:30 AM – 10:45 AM BREAK
10:45 AM – 12:15 PM WATER INFRASTRUCTURE & FINANCE 101 PANEL DISCUSSION: How do Regulations Affect Costs of a Water Infrastructure Project
Moderator: Ron Gastelum, WELL Board MemberSpeakers:Castulo Estrada, Director of Coachella Valley Water DistrictCouncilmember Carmen Ramirez, City of OxnardStephen Arakawa, Bay-Delta Initiatives Manager of Metropolitan Water District
12:30 PM – 1:45 PM LUNCH AND SPEAKER
California PUC Commissoner Martha Guzman-Aceves
2016 Annual Conference in Los Angeles, CA
DAY 1: Friday, March 4, 2016
9:30 AM – 10:30 AM Registration
10:30 AM – 11:00 AM Welcome and Morning Speaker
Tony Estremera, Director, Santa Clara Valley Water District
Tom Steyer, Founder and President of NextGen Climate
11:05 AM – 12:05 PM Governance of Water
Celeste Cantu, General Manager, Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority
12:05 PM – 1:20 PM Lunch
Address: “The Demographics of Leadership in California Water”
Speaker: Dr. Mindy Romero, Director, California Civic Engagement Project, UC Davis Center for Regional Change
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM Basics of California Water Infrastructure and Finance
Ron Gastelum, President and Chairman, Water Conservation Partners, Inc.
Brian Thomas, Managing Director, Public Utilities Commission
2:30 PM – 4:30 PM Facilities Tour – Santa Clara Valley Water District Recycling Project
6:00 PM – 7:30 PM Reception
Sponsor Welcome: Victor Griego, WELL Board Member
Keynote Speaker: Catherine Sandoval, Commissioner, California Public Utilities Commission
DAY 2: Friday, March 5, 2016
8:15 AM BREAKFAST
8:45 AM – 9:15 AM WELCOME AND SPEAKERS
Victor Griego, WELL Board Member
Cindy Chavez, Santa Clara County, District 2 Supervisor
Lester Snow, Executive Director, Water Foundation
9:20 AM – 10:30 AM WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR STORMWATER?
Moderator: Andrew Fahlund, Program Officer, Water Foundation
Diana Mahmud, Mayor, City of South PasadenaRobert Silva, Mayor, City of MendotaTony Estremera, Director, Santa Clara Valley Water District
10:35 AM – 11:00 AM Address
Anthony Rendon, Speaker-elect of California State Assembly
11:15 AM – 12:15 PM California’s Human Right to Water and Who Pays
Moderator: Gita Kapahi, Director, Office of Public Participation, State Water Resources Control Board
Esmeralda Soria, Fresno City CouncilmemberThe Honorable Mike Eng, Author of AB 685, The Human Right to Water BillKarina Cervantez Alejo, Watsonville City CouncilmemberAdan Ortega, Executive Director, California Association of Mutual Water Companies
2015 Annual Conference in Palm Springs, CA
Program and Photo Gallery:
2014 Annual Conference in Sacramento, CA
2013 Annual Conference in Los Angeles, CA