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Annual WELL Conferences

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. 

Conference Overview: 

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?

Click here to book a stay at the nearest hotel:

Doubletree by Hilton – Whittier Los Angeles7320 Greenleaf Avenue, Whittier, CA 90602

Use the Group Code: “LFW” for our conference discount!

Hotel Telephone Number:  (562) 945-8511

Click here to register. 

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.


Keynote Speaker:

Betty T. Yee, California State Controller

Luncheon Speaker:

Mark Arax, Journalist & Author

Event MC’s:

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

Note: To register and pay via invoice, please contact Stephanie Nava-Angeles at stephanie@latinosforwater.org

Click here to register.

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:

1. Investing in the Water Sector to Boost the Economy During and After COVID

2. Human Right to Water Challenges in Urban and Rural California

3. Affordable Water for a More Resilient California

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:

Morning Reception & Keynote from Senator Bill Monning

Panel 1: Preparing Our Water Infrastructure For The Next 100 Years

Panel 2: Smart Growth in the Face of Water Stress

Panel 3: The Politics and Policies of Water

Event Program

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