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March 2022 Newsletter

Message from WELL

In the month of March, all our attention was drawn to Ukraine. Since Russia launched its invasion, more than 10 million people have been displaced, several Ukrainian towns and cities have been destroyed, and hundreds of civilians have been killed. As it continues, we support our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in hoping for a speedy end to this senseless war.

March was also Women’s History Month, dedicated to celebrating and appreciating the contributions of women in history and in contemporary society. In addition, we celebrated women in the water industry who work diligently each day to help provide safe and affordable drinking water to their communities in California. 

After two years of hosting our conference virtually, we were especially excited to bring people together in person again, in addition to learning about water policy, we saw this in-person event as a way to spark new conversations and big ideas amongst the attendees. As we wrapped up our first conference, we are excited to announce the next conference in the series to be held will be held June 10–-11, 2022, in Pico Rivera, CA. We hope to see you there.


Sí se puede,


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

WELL’s 2022 Conference Series:

Central Valley Conference: Policy, Practice, Progress

In 2022 we will celebrate WELL’s 10-year anniversary. To mark the occasion, we are hosting a conference series. The first conference brought attention to California’s Central Valley as we hosted the event in the region in Selma on Saturday, April 2. It is important to continue to bring our attention to the Central Valley region because its communities are disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of the drought and by 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 shared their expert knowledge to help local leaders drive solutions for California’s water challenges. See photos from the event by clicking the link below. 

Click here to see photos of the Central Valley Conference.

Missed the conference? Click here to see a news recap of the Central Valley Conference.

WELL’s 2022 Conference Series Continues!
Southern California Conference Coming June 1011, 2022

The WELL 10-year anniversary conference series continues in Southern California. The second conference will be held in Pico Rivera Friday, June 10 to Saturday, June 11. Click the link below to find out when registration opens [coming soon]!

UnTapped 2022: Sessions 4 & 5
March 3, 2022, and March 24, 2022

The fourth UnTapped session was held virtually via Zoom and focused on teaching Fellows about water conveyance systems in California. Fellows interviewed WELL Board Member and Santa Clara Valley County Water Board Member Tony Estremera; this lesson helped fellows understand the importance of these conveyance systems and the current challenges facing conveyance projects. 

The fifth UnTapped Fellowship session was held virtually via Zoom and focused on teaching Fellows about contaminants in water. Fellows interviewed Rachel Kennard, Source Water Protection Specialist, California Rural Water Association. This lesson helped fellows understand the effects water contaminants have on public health, the cost of treatment, and their role in addressing water quality issues. 

WELL President & Founder Victor Griego was interviewed by Climate Resolve on Cesar Chavez and His Enduring Impact on Organizing the Climate Movement

In honor of Cesar Chavez Day, President and Founder of WELL, Victor Griego, a longtime community and labor organizer who worked with Chavez, sat down with Climate Resolve’s Communications Manager Armin Mahramzadeh to talk about the impact of Cesar Chavez’s legacy as an organizer and the lessons that we can apply to our fight for just climate solutions.

You can read the interview below:

Armin: What can climate organizers and the climate movement learn from Cesar Chavez and how he was able to create change?

Victor: Well, I think one of the things that I certainly learned from Cesar was, it’s not so much the cause, or the subject matter that keeps people going every day in any type of struggle, but it’s the people, it’s understanding that the work we do is affecting people’s lives. And that’s more important than the subject matter. So when we look at climate challenges, we look at how they impact children, how they impact older adults, how they impact people of color, disadvantaged communities? What are the faces? What are the people? And I think if we keep that front and center, that puts the energy into our work.

Armin: In what ways do workers rights and the effects of climate change intersect?

Victor: Well, hotter days, for example, impact farmworkers tremendously. And so when we look at the lack of proper health conditions for workers, either in the fields, in factories, wherever there’s increase in temperature, that’s a clear and simple visible impact of climate change on workers, just the heat, number one. Number two, climate change has impacted the cost of a lot of everyday services, and particularly low wage workers are impacted the most proportionately in terms of their wages and how they have to pay for services due to climate change. And an example of that is water and the lack of rain and snowpack impacts the type of water people are receiving. When temperature rises, surface water is impacted because of the contamination that comes from increased temperatures. So climate change impacts workers on a day-to-day basis. Now if you got money, sure, you could pay more money for your water bill, you can buy bottled water, you could pay expenses that increase because of the climate. But if you’re on the margin, it’s going to impact your quality of life tremendously.

Armin: How much is the fight for workers rights and conditions also a climate issue and vice versa?

Victor: Well, I think both of them are connected by one word, and that’s justice. Cesar, at the core of his work, was basically seeking justice. We could look at the topics of work environment, wages, health insurance, whatever the issue might be to the contract that they were trying to get from the growers. But at the end of the day it was respect and justice. And so when you look at climate, and the impacts that climate has on disadvantaged communities, on older adults, it’s about justice.

Toward a More Inclusive 21st Century Water Sector:
Opportunities for Diversity, Equity, and Engagement 

On March 30, 2022, WELL Board Member Joone Kim Lopez, and President and Founder Victor Griego served as panelists at UCI Water’s event Toward a More Inclusive 21st Century Water Sector: Opportunities for Diversity, Equity, and Engagement. The panel discussed how water agencies and the industry, in general, can better promote a more diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the needs and aspirations of the society it serves as well as how to ensure that the water sector embraces the values and issues faced by under-represented groups. Other panelists included Director Scott Houston

West Basin Municipal Water District, Vice President, Division IV, and Marisa Perez-Reyes Public Affairs Specialist, Stantec.

WELLo Spotlight

Leticia Gonzalez: Supervisor for District 4 in Madera County and current UnTapped Fellow, Gonzalez celebrated the Grand Opening of the District 4 Field Office, located in one of Self-Help Enterprises’ community center in Parksdale. Partnering with Promotoras Health Network Madera, District 4 will be hosting community programs three times a week. The following departments were present: Madera County Public Works Department, Madera County Behavioral Health Services, Madera County Fire Department, Alzheimer’s Association, California Highway Patrol, and Library Mobile (registering residents for library cards).  

Gracie Torres: Board Director for Western Municipal Water District and UnTapped graduate class of 2019, Torres was recognized by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors on Internation Women’s Day as one of eight women honored for work in her community. 

Igor Tregub: Former Berkeley Rent Stabilization Boardmember, 2020 WELL alum, and Kyiv, Ukraine, native Tregub has been fundraising for immediate aid to provide humanitarian relief to the millions of Ukrainians under siege by invading forces and helping organize solidarity rallies throughout the Bay Area. Please feel free to contact him at itregub@gmail.com for information about how to contribute toward the water, food, and other immediate needs of the Ukrainian people.

Cindy Wu: School Boardmember for the Mountain View School District and current UnTapped Fellow, Wu was selected by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Commission for

Women as one of the award recipients for the 37th Annual “Women of the Year” Commemorative Celebration. Wu will be awarded as an At Large Honoree in the category of education. 

WELL Partner Highlights

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD): In March, Pure Water Oceanside was officially dedicated. MWD partnered with the San Diego County Water Authority, and the City of Oceanside, to help fund Pure Water Oceanside through their Local Resources Program. In Nov. 2019, Metropolitan’s board committed to providing up to $42.7 million over 15 years for the facility to produce 150,000 acre-feet for 25 years. It will purify recycled water to create a new, local source of high-quality drinking water that is clean, safe, drought-proof, and environmentally sound. The program will produce enough water to provide more than 30% of the city’s water supply. 

Inland Empire Utilities Agency: On April 6, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $120 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the Inland Empire Utilities Agency to implement its Regional Wastewater System Improvements Program. Through this WIFIA loan, EPA is supporting high-quality recycled water and access to reliable, long-term wastewater treatment for western San Bernardino County, California.

Santa Clara Valley Water District (Valley Water): Valley Water has partnered with Sacred Heart Community Service to launch the Low-Income Residential Water Rate Assistance Program (WRAP). Valley Water’s Board of Directors created a rate assistance program to help low-income households impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic pay their water bill. Valley Water provided Sacred Heart with $1 million in funding to distribute to 4,000 low-income households in Santa Clara County. This month they announced, that since the launch of the program, nearly $400,000 has been distributed to over 1,000 households in Santa Clara County through their partner Sacred Heart Community Service. Click here to learn more. 

WELL UnTapped Fellowship – Curriculum Advisor Dr. Samuel Sandoval Solis, Receives Chancellor’s Award for International Engagement
UC Davis Professor Samuel Sandoval Solis was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for International Engagement. This award recognizes individual faculty and staff members for their outstanding international work in carrying out the university’s missions of teaching, research, and service. Professor Sandoval continues to contribute to UC Davis’ international impact on water resources and research. He has hosted numerous Cooperative Extension seminars and works with a wide cross-section of stakeholders—providing bilingual training to farmworkers on water contamination and research and policy updates to water management decision-makers at home and around the world. He also serves as our UnTapped Fellowship Curriculum Advisor, helping to develop and enhance the water education curriculum for local elected officials to learn about water.  

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:

1. ABC News: California drought deepens as wet season is anything but

2. Office of Governor Gavin Newsom: As Western Drought Worsens, Governor Newsom Moves to Bolster Regional Conservation Efforts

3. California Department of Water Resources: Historically Dry Conditions Impact Planned State Water Project Deliveries

4. Visalia Times Delta: STUDY: South Valley farms fallowed 129K acres of land, lost $294M due to 2021 drought

5. KSBY: First-of-its-kind strategic plan looks to reduce, prevent microplastic pollution

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.