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May 2022 Newsletter

Message from WELL

Gun violence has once again affected our nation and communities. Ten individuals were killed in a racist attack that occurred in Buffalo, New York, on May 14. The very next day, there was a shooting at a Taiwanese church in Laguna Woods, California, during which the gunman killed one man and wounded five others. Just nine days later, a gunman targeted a 4th-grade class in Uvalde, Texas, resulting in the killing of 19 children and two teachers.

We must first acknowledge the lives that were lost and the families and friends who will carry them in their hearts. As we pray for those affected by these recent tragedies, including the survivors who are coping with the aftermath of this trauma, we must remember that action is the most important response to this situation. We must continue to demand gun reform laws to prevent future tragedies.

Each May, we pay tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental in its future success. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have contributed significantly to many facets of American culture and society, including science and medicine, literature and art, sports and recreation, government and politics, and activism and law. AAPI Heritage Month celebrates the unique journey of all AAPI immigrants and citizens in the United States and their unique life experiences, traditions, and cultures.

Finally, as you lean into the summer months, be sure to enjoy time with your friends and family. Then take a moment to reflect and respond with gratitude. Think about doing a service project or assisting someone with emotional or professional support. This past month has taken a toll on everyone, but we can remind ourselves that good is always present. As local leaders, you have the ability to change someone’s life for the better. We challenge you to do something positive for your community. When you do, please share your story with us. This positive work will uplift not only us, but everyone around us.

Sí se puede,


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

WELL’s 2022 Conference Series: Eight days away!
Southern California Conference: Announcing Speakers, Panelists, and Moderators.

Click here to register. 

2022 is WELL’s 10-year anniversary. To celebrate, we are hosting a conference series. The second conference will take place Friday, June 10 and Saturday, June 11, 2022, at the Water Replenishment District of Southern California, Albert Robles Center for Water Recycling and Environmental Learning in Pico Rivera. 

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 our state faces a third year of drought. 

Conference Overview: 

  • Friday, 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 (5:00 PM6:00 PM); Evening Reception (6:00 PM8:00 PM).
    • Featured Speaker: Gloria D. Gray, Chairwoman, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Director, West Basin Municipal Water District.
  • Saturday, June 11, 9:00 AM 3:00 PM: Conference. See the full list of panels below. 
    • Event MC: Debra Lucero, Supervisor District 2, County of Butte
    • Keynote Speaker: E. Joaquin Esquivel, Chair, State Water Resources Control Board
    • Featured Speaker: Pamela (Pam) Tobin, President, Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), Director, San Juan Water District

Panel 1: How is climate change impacting our water supply, and are our cities prepared for the future?

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?

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?

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

Click here to learn about Sponsorship Opportunities.

UnTapped 2022: Sessions 9
May 18 19, 2022

May 1819, 2022, WELL hosted the ninth, and final UnTapped Fellowship Session for the class of 2022 in Sacramento. The ninth session was hosted at the capital where Fellows met with their legislators to invite them to co-host a legislative workshop in their districts. The purpose of the legislative workshop was to bring together local elected officials to learn about water issues and solutions at the local level. The session also included a graduation dinner with several guests and a tour of the delta. 

This session marked the end of the Fellowship and the beginning of the work the Fellows will continue to do to help bring clean and affordable drinking water to their communities.   

The 14 graduates are now a part of the WELL UnTapped Network (WUN) as “WELLo’s.” WUN is a platform for former and current WELLo’s to continue engaging in learning and training opportunities about California water policy. The network also offers the opportunity to utilize the skills, knowledge, and relationships WELLo’s have acquired through WELL programs to lead in solving the challenges of water issues that impact their local communities. This class brings the total number of graduates of the Fellowship to 45. The WELLo’s are comprised of local elected officials from across the state, ranging from city council members, school board members, and county supervisors to water board members.

We’d like to say a special thank you to our sponsors, the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA), who hosted us on the first day. 

On Day 1, after the legislative visits, WELL hosted a graduation dinner on a boat on the Sacramento River. To celebrate the graduation from the program, in attendance were: David Eagerton, Executive Director, ACWA; Erica Arriaga, Executive Director, Latino Caucus of the League of California Cities; Irais Lopez-Ortega, Board Member, WELL, and Councilmember for the City of Calistoga; Marc Grossman, Spokesperson, Cesar Chavez Foundation; Miguel Luna, Board Member, WELL, and Director of The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; Professor Samuel Sandoval Solis, UC Davis; and Victor Griego, President and Founder, WELL. 

On Day 2, the WELLo’s received a tour of the California Delta from Michael George, Delta Watermaster, State Water Resources Control Board. Along the way, our WELLo’s made stops at several water facilities in order to understand the Delta’s role in California’s agriculture sector, environment, and cities.

Click here to fill out the interest form to learn how you can be a part of the next cohort! 

WELLo Spotlight

Rodrigo Espinoza: Supervisor, County of Merced and Class of 2019 UnTapped Graduate, Rodrigo Espinoza alongside, Merced Lideres Campesinas and Golden Valley Health Centersvisited essential workers in the sweet potato industry in Delhi in order to conduct vaccine education and resource navigation for the California Worker Outreach Project. 

Irais Lopez-Ortega: Councilmember, City of Calistoga and Class of 2019 UnTapped Graduate, Irais Lopez-Ortega celebrated the Napa Valley Transportation Authority breaking ground on the St. Helena – Calistoga Segment on Tuesday, May 24. Napa County has a higher-than-normal rate of car accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists, ranking eighth in California. Representatives of the Vine Trail, Napa County, cities of St. Helena and Calistoga, Napa Valley Transportation Authority, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, California Transportation Commission, Bay Area Ridge Trail Council, and other organizations hailed the grants, donors, and public-private collaborations that brought the segment to the construction phase. The trail will have economic, health, and safety benefits. 

Javier Vargas: Director, Valley County Water District and Class of 2020 UnTapped Graduate, Javier Vargas, as acting president of the Baldwin Park Kiwanis and in partnership with the La Puente Kiwanis, will be hosting a charity golf tournament. All of the proceeds support community service projects and scholarships. Click here to learn more. 

WELL Partner Highlights

Los Angeles County Sanitation District and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD): On May 17, Governor Gavin Newsom visited the Regional Recycled Water Advanced Purification Center in Carson, conducting a press conference that was also hosted by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The purification center project would create a new, drought-proof source of water for 1.5 million people. Click here to learn more.

Orange County Water District (OCWD): OCWD and the City of Garden Grove began operating one of four treatment plants under construction in Garden Grove designed to remove per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from local well water. The Garden Grove facility, located at West Haven Reservoir, is among 36 PFAS treatment facilities being designed and constructed in Orange County over the next two years; Garden Grove’s West Haven Well 21 was one of the first in the county to be completed and go online. Click here to learn more.

Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD): On May 6, WRD celebrated the groundbreaking of its Inland Injection Well Project at the WRD Leo J. Vander Lans Advanced Water Treatment Facility in Long Beach. WRD has received grant funding for the project from both the private and public sectors; $1.5M grant funding from PepsiCo as a part of its water sustainability initiative and $1.5M grant funding from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The new well will inject up to 2 million gallons of purified recycled water per day into the groundwater aquifers that provide reliable water to residents in southern Los Angeles County. ⁣Click here to learn more.

Santa Clara Valley County Water District: In May, Valley Water approved and continued its long-standing partnership with our organization as a WELL Associate Member, moving its membership from Gold to Platinum, the highest level of our Associate Memberships. WELL appreciates the continued recognition and support of Valley Water for the work that we do. 

Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District (USGVMWD):  In May, USGVMWD approved expansion of its long-standing partnership with WELL by becoming a WELL Associate, joining as a Silver member. WELL appreciates USGVMWD’s continued recognition and support of our work. 

California Water News May

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 May:

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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.