February 2023 Newsletter
Message from WELL
With the recent heavy rainfall in California, many people are wondering if the drought is finally over. Unfortunately, the answer is no. While the rainfall has helped replenish some of the state’s major reservoirs and eased conditions, the last four years of record-breaking dryness and the ongoing crisis in the Colorado River means that the water crisis is still a pressing issue. As such, educating local Latino elected officials on this continuing crisis is of utmost importance. To support this effort, WELL’s Policy and Curriculum Advisor, Dr. Samuel Sandoval Solis, will provide quarterly updates on California’s water challenges and recommendations for local elected leaders to engage in the discussions and find solutions.
Victor Griego, WELL President and Founder, also released a guest commentary on Cal Matters emphasizing the need to educate local leaders, particularly those in Latino communities, on water solutions to protect vulnerable residents. The failure of policy leaders to take decisive action will only magnify the issue. You can read the full article by clicking here.
One of the ways we educate Latino leaders is through the WELL UnTapped Fellowship. Our Class of 2023 held its second session in Keene, Calif., home to the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument, to learn about groundwater storage, managing water resources with competing interests, and the art of public narrative, a leadership tool. You can read more about the second session below.
February was also Black History Month, a time to reflect on the contributions of Black Americans in our communities. It is also essential to address the disproportionate burden of unsafe and costly drinking water on Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, especially as climate change continues to impact reliable water resources. Therefore, WELL invites you to register for our annual conference scheduled for March 31 – April 1 in Van Nuys, Calif., where you will be able to learn more about California’s water challenges and how to effectively address the needs of your most vulnerable residents.
¡Sí Se Puede!
Victor Griego Paul C. Hernandez
Founder and Board President Executive Director
WELL President and Founder Victor Griego Provides Guest Commentary on Cal Matters
Victor Griego, President, and Founder of WELL, shared his thoughts on California’s water crisis in a guest commentary piece for Cal Matters. In “Education is vital for California Latinos affected most by the water crisis,” President Griego stressed the importance of educating local leaders, especially those in Latino communities, on water solutions to protect vulnerable residents.
“It is a fateful paradox that while keeping our food system functioning falls heaviest on the backs of Latino workers, they are most frequently plagued by water contamination and scarcity.
Local Latino elected leaders need to be their voice by being properly informed since they are on the frontlines of passing and administering bond funding, infrastructure contracts, and raising public awareness.”
How can you be educated and trained to support your community members as California experiences the effects of climate change on our water supplies? Register for our annual conference March 31 – April 1 in Van Nuys, Calif.
Adapting to a New Normal: California Water Strategies for the 21st Century. WELL 11th Annual Conference is 30 Days Away! Register Today!
How have current weather conditions impacted our water supplies? How will residents be impacted by changing patterns to our state’s water resiliency?
Come hear from experts on the statewide, regional, and local impacts of the drought and resulting water deficits. Our panelists will discuss the effects of a changing climate on California’s water infrastructure and explore the infrastructure solutions to ensure water resources meet demand. They’ll also highlight the strategies that have been implemented in various cities, counties, and states to proactively combat the impact of a drier climate and the consequences of not implementing these solutions earlier.
For any questions or sponsorship opportunities please call/text us at 909-670-2928.
Thank you to our early sponsors!
There is still time to become a conference sponsor. Click here for sponsorship opportunities.
WELL UnTapped Fellowship Session 2: February 10 – 11, 2023
On February 10 – 11, 2023, WELL hosted the second UnTapped Fellowship session for the Class of 2023 in Keene, Calif.. This session was held at the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument and included a tour by Cesar Chavez’s son Paul Chavez, President of the Cesar Chavez Foundation. The session focused on teaching participating fellows about groundwater, i.e., “Whose water is it?” and learning the leadership art of public narrative.
Speakers included Patricia Poire, Executive Director of the Kern Groundwater Authority, and Eddie Ocampos, Director of Community Sustainability, Self-Help Enterprises.
On day two, Jake Waman and Miya Cain trained the fellows on the leadership tool of public narrative and “the story of self, us, and now.” Trainers included WELL Boardmember Miguel A. Luna and WELL President and Founder Victor Griego. At the end of the session, fellows celebrated with a moment of unity by singing “De Colores.”
The next in-person session will be in San Diego and will focus on contaminants and how to utilize public narrative training for relationship building.
To learn more about the 2023 UnTapped class, read their bios here.
WELL UnTapped Fellowship Session 1 in the News:
WELL Welcomes Jessie Jennewein as New Deputy Director
This month WELL welcomed a new team member! Jessie Jennewein is WELL’s new Deputy Director. In this position, Jessie will help elevate the work we are doing as we embark on another year full of new programs—join us in welcoming her to the WELL family. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to read her bio.
Reflections on the Last Decade of Drought and the Aridification of California by Dr. Samuel Sandoval Solis, WELL Policy and Curriculum Advisor
The current water year (October 1, 2022 – September 30, 2023) is predicted to receive around average precipitation; after a decade-long drought, this to me is good news. While we are getting a short break on drought conditions, the last decade has shown us that relief is temporary and that we are experiencing the full effects of climate change events that scientists have been forecasting: “Droughts will be more severe, and wet years will be wetter.” In that sense there is no new information related to expected conditions, however, there are plenty of lessons to be learned:
- A short break does not mean that we are out of the water crisis. When the last drought ended in 2016 it was followed by the wettest year on record in 2017; we then experienced a subsequent three-year drought (2020–2022). A period of drought will come again, so we must invest in solutions now.
- We cannot engineer our way out of water scarcity and flood conditions. Pouring more concrete or adding more pipes to our water system will not solve the current problem. If that were the case, we would have already solved our water issues, considering that these have been our strategies for the last 150 years. To be clear, we need to prioritize the following strategies in order from the most affordable to the most expensive. First, reduce California’s water demand. Second, improve the operation of our current water system by improving surface and groundwater storage. Third, invest in the reuse of water and rainwater harvesting. Fourth, invest in new infrastructure that can increase our water supplies. However, strategies that help increase our water supplies will not address the root of our current water crisis, which is that we are using more water than what is currently available.
- More importantly, the drought highlights California’s long-range problems: We (yes, all of us) are using more water than what is naturally available, meaning we need to prioritize water conservation, improved water storage, and water reuse in every corner of California. Everyone in California needs to reduce their water use, especially in agriculture. Remember: the drought is everyone’s problem, and thus everyone must be part of the solution.
Water is a shared resource, and it’s up to everyone to look after it.
WELL Partners with the Sonora Institute to Host a Growing Water Smart Workshop
WELL is partnering with the Sonora Institute to bring the Growing Water Smart program to California. This partnership brings together the expertise and resources of two leading organizations in the water conservation and education fields to aid participating city leaders in creating a comprehensive water management program that will address water resource challenges in their cities.
The workshop builds and fosters interdisciplinary teams from counties, municipalities, and school and water districts that are committed to taking collaborative action around water resilience. The program provides insight into critical gaps in planning efforts, as participants assess community data, trends, and existing policies to identify strategies for becoming water resilient. This leads to the development of a common set of data and growth projections that local governments and service providers can use to inform planning efforts.
As a Latino leader, joining the Growing Water Smart program will equip you with the tools and resources necessary to create a more sustainable future for your community.
Acquanetta Warren, Mayor, City of Fontana, and UnTapped Graduate, Class of 2018: The Southern California Water Coalition (SCWC) announced that its Board of Trustees selected Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren as its new Board Chair for a two-year term on February 1. This makes Mayor Warren the first Black chair of the organization. In her role, she will lead SCWC’s educational and coalition-building efforts on behalf of Southern Californians. “I am honored to have been selected by my colleagues on the SCWC board to lead this important coalition during such a critical time,” said Mayor Warren. “Southern California needs reliable, affordable, and clean water now more than ever.” Click here to read the full news piece.
Monica E. Wilson, Councilmember, City of Antioch, and UnTapped Graduate, Class of 2022: With liquor stores outnumbering grocery stores in some vulnerable areas of Antioch, Councilwoman Wilson proposed a ban on new liquor stores opening in her community. Click here to read more.
Lamar Thorpe, Mayor, City of Antioch and UnTapped Graduate, Class of 2019: Mayor Thorpe announced that the City of Antioch will receive $13 million to improve the safety of a popular school route for children and parents. Additionally, Antioch will benefit from a $3.7 million grant from Contra Costa Transportation Authority that will be used to invest in building a new Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) program. The program promotes walking and bicycling to school through infrastructure improvements, enforcement, safety education, and incentives to encourage walking and bicycling to school. The SRTS will be complemented by an additional $5 million grant that will help build the World’s first Bicycle Garden. Click here to learn more.
Javier Vargas, President, Valley County Water District, and UnTapped Graduate, Class of 2020: In February, the Valley County Water District Board of Directors voted to appoint Vargas as its President. In this role, he will help lead the board of directors to tackle the most pressing water challenges facing the district and region, such as infrastructure investments, elimination of contaminates, and engaging the community to increase awareness of their role in solving the state’s water crisis.
WELL Partner Highlights
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD): In February, MWD hosted its first in-person tour in three years of the Pure Water Demonstration Plant. More tours will be scheduled throughout the year; you can learn more about the facility, its innovative purification process, and the importance of purified water to Southern California’s water supply by clicking here.
California American Water: On February 13, California American Water activated two new pump stations as part of its efforts to reduce reliance on the Carmel River. The new Forest Lake Pump Station, located in Pebble Beach, and the San Carlos Pump Station in Carmel Valley, will allow water sourced in Seaside to be pumped to Carmel Valley, reducing reliance on the Carmel River and helping to protect the Carmel River ecosystem. Click here to read more.
The Los Angeles County Sanitation District (LACSD): This year marks the LACSD’s 100th anniversary. This is a year to reflect on how the agency has contributed to the people of LA County. This is also a time for Sanitation District staff to be inspired by the agency’s past as new challenges are tackled. Click here to read more.
California Water News – March
Worried that you may have missed some important water news this month? WELL has you covered! Here is a sample of noteworthy water news for the month of March:
- The Washington Post: A California tunnel could save stormwater for millions. Why is it so divisive?
- The New York Times: Why It’s Hard for California to Store More Water Underground
- Cal Matters: This reservoir on the Sacramento River has been planned for decades. What’s taking so long?
- California Department Water Resources: California Sends $15 Million to Central Valley Communities to Support Flood Control, Water Supply Reliability and Groundwater Recharge
- The Daily: 7 states, 1 River and an Agonizing Choice
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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.