June 2023 Newsletter
What’s New With WELL
- WELL Celebrates 10-year Anniversary —WELL reached a milestone and hosted an event gathering WELLos from all of the graduating cohorts, as well as supporters, friends, and sponsors. As part of the celebration, WELL hosted two panel discussions featuring California’s Assembly speaker, legislators, and WELLos.
- WELL UnTapped Fellowship Water Workshop held in the City of Paramount—Four WELLos hosted a water discussion with more than 50 local elected officials and water industry experts.
- Announcing the Fellows for the WELL AAPI UnTapped Fellowship Program—Ten Fellows were selected for the WELL AAPI UnTapped Fellowship Program.
- Event Recap: A Conversation about Water—WELL and NALEO co-hosted a critical conversation to educate Latino elected officials about efforts across the country to mitigate the effects of extremely dry weather on our water resources.
- Event Recap: Growing Water Smart Workshop in Southern California—WELL, in collaboration with the Sonoran Institute, is bringing a new land use planning tool to California. The Growing Water Smart (GWS) initiative, the first of its kind in California, introduces cities to a full range of communications, public engagement, planning, and policy implementation tools to help them discover their watershed health and community resiliency goals.
- WELL UnTapped Network (WUN) Inspection tour of the Colorado River—The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California hosted 18 WELLos on a three-day tour of the Colorado River Aqueduct to learn about how it helps support more than 19 million people in Southern California.
- WELLos Spotlight—As our WELLos continue their leadership and enact positive change, we highlight cohort members as they continue embodying WELL’s mission.
- WELL is Honored as Community Partner of the Year by CEO—WELL received the Community Partner of the Year award from Chinese-American Elected Officials (CEO) at its 11th Annual Installation & Awards Dinner.
- Partners’ Spotlight—Hear about new collaborations, and announcements of major achievements, or learn more about what our partners are doing in California in the water sector.
- California Water News—Catch some of the latest noteworthy water news during the month of June!
- WELL Associate Members—Want to support WELL’s mission? Become an Associate Member today! View our current members and find out more about this process in the link below.
June Newsletter Commentary:
This month, WELL hosted our 10-Year Anniversary Celebration. As we reflect on our work over the decade, the primary focus is on the human right to water. Moving forward, we continue to carry on this theme in our education and training. However, our focus, work, and message for the next 10 years will be diversity, equity, and inclusion in access to safe and affordable water. We can not ensure water equity without a more diverse workforce or diversity among California’s elected leadership.
Educating local Latino leaders is a goal that seeks to uplift and support all Californians. Through continued education, engagement, and action, this state can effectively and responsibly manage its limited natural resource—water! Still, it will take bold leadership. WELL is poised to equip future water leaders with the education and guidance needed to make an enduring impact on California water policy. You can read a full recap of our 10-year anniversary down below.
June was also filled with other celebrations, Pride Month and Juneteenth! Pride Month lets us celebrate LGBTQ+ history, fighting discrimination, and honoring differences. Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and reminds us of the work that is needed to ensure water equity for all Californians. How does this tie into WELL’s work?
Finally, as part of our readership, we thank you for your support over the past 10 years and for being a part of the WELL network.
¡Sí Se Puede!
Victor Griego Paul C. Hernandez
Founder and Board President Executive Director
WELL UnTapped Fellowship Water Workshop in the City of Paramount on Saturday, June 17, 2023
On June 17, 2023, graduates of WELL’s UnTapped Fellowship Program, Councilmembers Dr. Heber Márquez (City of Maywood), Kevin Lainez (City of Commerce), Brenda Olmos (City of Paramount), and Ana María Quintana (City of Bell) hosted an important discussion with local elected officials and water industry experts about water issues impacting the region.
Speakers included Esther Valle Rojas, Water Replenishment District (WRD), and Director Juan Garza, Central Basin Municipal Water District. They presented an overview of the water resources and usage in the region as well as the future of water in California. This discussion gave the 50 local elected officials in attendance the opportunity to learn more about where their water resources come from and how they can work collectively to ensure affordable water for their communities.
UnTapped Fellowship water workshops are organized by graduates of the UnTapped Fellowship Program and provide an opportunity for WELLos to showcase both their leadership skills and recently obtained water knowledge. The workshops bring together various local elected officials to learn about regional water challenges in order to find solutions to these dilemmas.
Follow us on social media to find out when the next workshop will happen.
WELL Hosts 10th Year Anniversary Celebration
On June 16, 2023, WELL Celebrated its 10-Year Anniversary with an event that brought together the WELLos from all of the graduating cohorts, plus supporters, friends, and sponsors. As part of the celebration, WELL hosted two panel discussions.
The first panel featured five state lawmakers who have been strong supporters of WELL, including the Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon (District 62), Senator Bob Archuleta (District 30), Senator María Elena Durazo (District 26), Assemblymember Mike Fong (District 49), and Senator Susan Rubio (District 22). Legislators discussed their experiences working with WELL and why it is important for WELL to educate local elected officials on water policy.
The second panel highlighted graduates of the UnTapped Fellowship Program over the past five cohorts. The graduates were Dr. Sabrina Bow, President, Azusa Unified School District and WELL UnTapped Fellowship Graduate, Class of 2023; Marta Cruz-Concepción, Former Mayor, City of Cloverdale, and WELL UnTapped Fellowship Graduate, Class of 2020; Leticia Gonzalez, Supervisor, County of Madera, and WELL UnTapped Fellowship Graduate, Class of 2022; Gene Hernandez, Mayor, City of Yorba Linda and WELL UnTapped Fellowship Graduate, Class of 2018; and Alvaro Preciado, Mayor, City of Avenal, and WELL UnTapped Fellowship Graduate, Class of 2019. The WELLos discussed their experiences going through the WELL UnTapped Fellowship Program.
The panels were then followed by a reception. This celebration allowed for a moment of reflection on the work WELL has accomplished over the past decade and what the focus and work will be for the next 10 years.
Announcing the Fellows for the WELL AAPI UnTapped Fellowship Program
Meet the 2023 AAPI UnTapped Fellowship Class!
The WELL UnTapped Fellowship is a selective, six-month program for local elected leaders aimed at helping participants make an impact on California water policy while addressing individual community water challenges. The UnTapped program creates an opportunity for local leaders to engage with water issues by exploring California’s water history and governance, infrastructure, finance, and the impact of climate change on water quality and supply. This curriculum is taught through the lens of the human right to water, with eyes on diversity, equity, and inclusion within the water sector.
After a competitive application process, we have selected 10 local leaders in California to embark on the AAPI UnTapped Fellowship program. This class comes from all areas of the state, yet participants are united by their passion for water knowledge and for supporting their communities. This cohort also marks the first time in WELL’s history where we host two cohorts in a single year, again, demonstrating the need for water education for our local elected Latino leaders.
- Ritchie Cajulis, Councilmember, City of Walnut
- Ralph Galvan, Director, Valley County Water District
- Mayra Garza, President, Bellflower Unified School District
- Juan Garza, Director, Central Basin Municipal Water District
- Rachel Hernandez, Vice Mayor, City of Riverbank
- Sergio Jimenez, Councilmember, City of Monrovia
- Elizabeth Jonasson Rosas, Boardmember, Fresno Unified School District
- Chander Letulle, Director, San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency
- Ariel Pe, Vice Mayor, City of Lakewood
- Daniel Jenkins, Vice President, West Valley Water District
- Ritchie Cajulis, Councilmember, City of Walnut
To learn more about the 2023 AAPI UnTapped class, read their bios here
WELL co-hosts webinar with NALEO: A Conversation about Water
On Thursday, June 8, WELL and NALEO co-hosted a crucial conversation with water experts to educate Latino elected officials about efforts across the country to mitigate the effects of extreme dry weather on water resources. The discussion also spotlighted solutions communities are implementing to build a more sustainable and equitable water future for all. Councilmember Rafael Trujillo, from the City of Rialto, and a WELL UnTapped Fellowship Graduate, Class of 2023, moderated this conversation. The speakers were Natalie DeRoock, Senior Public Information Officer, Tucson Water, Arizona, and Heather Cooley, Director of Research, Pacific Institute.
WELL UnTapped Network (WUN) Inspection tour of the Colorado River
Graduates of the WELL UnTapped Fellowship Program, known as WELLos, continued their water education, with a three-day tour of the Colorado River Aqueduct. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) hosted the 18 WELLos to learn about this aqueduct that supports more than 19 million people in Southern California.
The educational trip started at Hoover Dam in Nevada to teach the WELLos about its role in providing flood control for the river and allowed the opportunity for MWD to build out the 242-mile-long Colorado River Aqueduct in 1941 that carries water to Southern California.
All five cohorts of the WELL UnTapped Fellowship Program were represented. These leaders represented different municipalities from Northern to Southern California. The WELLos were also joined by Adan Ortega, Chairman, MWD; and Adel Hagekhalil, General Manager, MWD. Special thanks to all the speakers and The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for coordinating this water educational opportunity.
Growing Water Smart
From June 12 – 14, WELL, in collaboration with the Sonoran Institute, brought a new land use planning tool to California. The Growing Water Smart (GWS) initiative, the first of its kind in California, introduces cities to a full range of communications, public engagement, planning, and policy implementation tools to help them discover their watershed health and community resiliency goals. California communities can learn to integrate land use and water planning through a collaborative effort. This program was jointly developed by the Sonoran Institute and the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
This partnership brings together the expertise and resources of two leading organizations in the water conservation and education fields to aid participating California city leaders in creating a comprehensive water management program that will address water resource challenges in their municipalities. 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.
Through this collaboration, the Sonoran Institute and WELL were able to provide a cost-free workshop to participating city teams from Rialto, El Monte, Indio, and Baldwin Park. Additionally, two WELLos participated as facilitators Manuel Acosta, Councilmember, City of South El Monte, and WELL UnTapped Fellowship Graduate, Class of 2023; Gustavo Camacho, Councilmember, City of Pico Rivera, and WEL UnTapped Fellowship Graduate, Class of 2019; Councilmembers Oscar Ortiz, Mayor, City of Indio, and WELL UnTapped Fellowship Graduate, Class of 2022; and Rafael Trujillo, Councilmember, City of Rialto, and WELL UnTapped Fellowship Graduate, Class of 2022; joined their respective city teams in the planning sessions.
WELL Awarded Community Partner of the Year by the organization Chinese-American Elected Officials (CEO)
On June 9, WELL was named Community Partner of the Year by the organization Chinese American Elected Officials at their 11th Annual Installation & Awards Dinner. Dr. Sabrina Bow, President, Azusa Unified School District, and WELL UnTapped Fellowship Graduate, Class of 2023 was sworn in as a Boardmember and presented the award to WELL. In attendance were Victor Griego, President and Founder, WELL, and Paul C. Hernandez, Executive Director, WELL.
Dr. Sabrina Bow, President, Azusa Unified School District, and WELL UnTapped Fellowship Graduate, Class of 2023: Dr. Bow was sworn in as a Boardmember of the Chinese American Elected Officials.In this role, she will sponsor programs and activities that develop Asian & Pacific Islander American (APIA) leadership; raise public awareness of APIA concerns; participate in governmental policy and decision-making processes; and eliminate prejudice and discrimination against API and all Americans.
Leticia Gonzalez, Supervisor, County of Madera, and WELL UnTapped Fellowship Graduate, Class of 2022: Supervisor Gonzalez co-hosted a webinar with state Senator Anna Caballero (SD14), and Cathryn Rivera, Appointments Secretary for the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom. The webinar educated people about the appointment process and opportunities to serve the state of California. The goal of the webinar was also to supply information on applying to serve on commissions to further diversity. Click here to watch.
Antonio Hernandez, Boardmember, Antioch Unified School District, and WELL UnTapped Fellowship Graduate, Class of 2023: Boardmember Hernandez was appointed to serve as a board member of the Delta Learning Center, a nonprofit in the city of Antioch dedicated to providing tutoring services for students in the community in order to address the educational achievement gap by addressing barriers to education.
WELL Partner Highlights
Upper San Gabriel Valley Water Company: As part of the state Department of Water Resources Urban Community Drought Relief Grant Program, the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District and three partner agencies—Calleguas Municipal Water District, Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, and Inland Empire Utilities Agency—have been awarded grant funding to provide a new water-use efficiency program for select properties in more than 60 communities across the Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Bernardino counties in Southern California. The Turnkey Turf Transformation Project is designed to rapidly reduce water demands by complying with the State’s Non-Functional Turf Ban by removing large portions of non-functional turf on commercial, industrial, and institutional properties within disadvantaged communities.
Rancho California Water District: Also as part of the Department of Water Resources Urban Community Drought Relief Grant Program, Rancho Water is receiving nearly $12 million for its projects. The groundwater storage expansion project was awarded $6.8 million to build a 40-acre recharge pond that will allow Rancho Water to purchase and store less expensive raw water during wet years, and then withdraw it from the groundwater basin when needed. The second project is the Regional Agricultural Drought Response Program, an expansion of Rancho Water’s successful CropSWAP program that has converted more than 160 acres of crops from high water-intensive plants to lower water-using and climate-appropriate crops. A state grant for $5 million for the expansion of this program to water districts serving farming communities in Riverside and northern San Diego counties
San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District and Western Municipal Water District: Alongside the Riverside Public Utilities, and the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District, these two districts held a joint groundbreaking ceremony on June 2, for the Santa Ana River Enhanced Recharge Phase 1B project, which will expand existing groundwater recharge facilities owned and operated by the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District to capture and recharge local stormwater. The $51.3 million infrastructure investment is underway, with an estimated completion in late 2025. Consisting of an additional 20 recharge basins with levees, access roads, canals, inter-basin pipelines and connectors, and flow control structures, upon completion, the investment will help capture and recharge water diverted by the Valley District and Western Municipal Water District.
California Water News—June
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 June.
- Spectrum News 1: Imperial Valley farmers brace for potential water cuts
- Los Angeles Times: ‘This water needs to be protected’: California tribe calls for preservation of Tulare Lake
- Cal Matters: California ranchers intentionally violated an emergency water order. Now lawmakers want to triple the fines
- The New York Times Magazine: The Trillion-Gallon Question: Extreme weather is threatening California’s dams. What happens if they fail?
- Cal Matters: California budget deal delivers major setback to Delta water tunnel project
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 (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.