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September 2022 Newsletter

Message from WELL

California experienced the intense effects of climate change this month with record-breaking temperatures caused by the “heat dome” effect a phenomenon that occurs when the seasons change from summer to fall. With rising temperatures, we are seeing water supplies affected by dry soils, high evaporation rates, and a continuous period of drought. These effects are all contributing to the aridification of the Southwest United States. It is important, as local leaders, to prepare and educate ourselves in order to be able to address current and future water challenges. 

Hurricane Fiona struck Puerto Rico two weeks ago and is an example of how extreme weather patterns caused by climate change are affecting Latino communities. In the aftermath of the hurricane, some residents are still without water and power. And as this is being written, Hurricane Ian is still having a significant impact on the U.S. Southeast.

As we witness these extreme weather patterns, our Latino community leaders need to continue to be a part of conversations regarding climate change and water. Historically, black and brown communities have been overly burdened by environmental stressors. Through WELL’s educational programs, we help empower local elected officials to be able to advocate for their communities and address their ongoing water challenges. 

As an elected official, what are you doing to address the effects
of climate change on our water supply and how that affects your community?

WELL works with local elected officials because it is you who are the closest to your community members. It’s you who understands your community’s challenges and you who know your residents’ needs. We believe education is part of the solution, but without action, it is a one-sided social value that holds no true potential for change. Therefore, it will take the development of bold leadership to be able to address the effects we are seeing on our water supply in a changing climate.

Sí se puede,


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

WELL UnTapped Fellowship Program

Applications for the WELL UnTapped Fellowship were due September 26. Did you miss the application deadline? If you are interested in the program but have not notified WELL staff, please let us know you still want to apply by sending an email to Stephanie Nava-Angeles, Program Manager at WELL at stephanie@latinosforwater.org. The application portal will allow you to submit your application past the deadline.

On Monday, September 19, 2022, Councilmember Monica E. Wilson, City of Antioch, a Class of 2022 UnTapped Graduate, hosted a tour of the Antioch brackish water desalination project and a roundtable discussion about water issues impacting the region. In attendance were local elected officials and water industry experts.

Speakers included Ron Bernal, Former City Manager, City of Antioch; John Samuelson, Public Works Director, City of Antioch; and Vice De Lange, General Manager, Delta Diablo Sanitation District. Discussions included a history of the desalination plant, brine, and what local elected officials can do to address regional water challenges. 

The workshop was sponsored by the City of Antioch, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, California Department of Water Resources, Delta Diablo Sanitation District, California State Water Resources Control Board, and Tri Delta Transit. 

On Saturday, September 24, 2022, Vice President Cheryl Sudduth, West County Wastewater District, and a Class of 2022 UnTapped Graduate,  along with District 15 Assemblymember Buffy Wicks hosted a discussion about water issues impacting the region with other local elected officials and water industry experts.

Speakers included Gokce Sencan, Research Associate, Public Policy Institute of California; 

Laura Feinstein, Sustainability and Resilience Policy Director, San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR); Peter S. Fiske, Executive Director of NAWI and the Director of the Water-Energy Resilience Research Institute (WERRI) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Dr. Kenneth Chris Hurst, Superintendent, West Contra Costa Unified School District; Nichole Morgan, Boardmember, California State Water Resources Control Board; John Gioia, Supervisor, Contra Costa County; Doria Robinson, Executive Director, Urban Tilth; Cesar Zepeda, Chair, West Contra County Sierra Club Group; Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, District 11; Dorene D’Adamo, Vice Chair, State Water Resources Control Board; Cheryl Sudduth, Vice President, West County Wastewater District and UnTapped graduate class of 2022; and Lesa McIntosh, Director, East Bay Municipal Utilities District. Topics included the value of water, the human right to water, regional water issues, and management strategies for current drought conditions. 

The workshop was sponsored by East Bay Municipal Utilities District, ENGIE, West County Wastewater District, West Contra Costa Unified School District, and WELL.

WELL President & Founder Victor Griego joined the podcast Waterloop to explain why WELL focuses on inspiring Latino leaders to care about water issues and how the organization provides the leadership and storytelling skills necessary to create real change.

Victor described the disproportionate number of water challenges faced by Latinos in California, the gap in water knowledge among elected officials, and why engaging local leaders can solve California’s water challenge. 

WELLo Spotlight

Acquanetta Warren, Mayor, City of Fontana and WELL UnTapped Graduate, Class of 2018: Warren was a featured speaker at the National Nonpartisan Conversation on Voter Rights. This meeting brought together elected officials, business leaders, community activists, and grassroots organizations to focus on strategies to protect, defend, and promote voter rights and access to the ballot box.

Belen Bernal, Executive Director, Nature for All and WELL UnTapped Graduate, Class of 2019: Bernal’s organization Nature for All received a check for $995,000 from Congresswoman Judy Chu. These funds will be used for the first Los Angeles County shuttle system to the San Gabriel Mountains. Nature for All aims to increase outdoor equity, access, and environmental justice for diverse, underserved communities across the Los Angeles area. Click here to read more.

Javier Vargas, Director, Valley County Water District and WELL UnTapped Graduate, Class of 2020: Vargas is President of the Kiwanis Club of Baldwin Park. This month, he and the Kiwanis, along with the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments and the City of Baldwin Park helped support the residents of Serenity Homes with donations. The Kiwanis Club of Baldwin Park will continue to provide donations for the rest of the school year. Serenity Homes is a 16-unit family bridge housing project in Baldwin Park that caters to the needs of families with children as they experience homelessness.

WELL Partner Highlights

Orange County Water District (OCWD): OCWD was named the 2022 winner of the Groundwater Resources Association’s Kevin J. Neese award and was recognized for its efforts to remove the contaminant PFAS from local groundwater. This includes launching the nation’s largest pilot treatment project in December 2019, constructing PFAS treatment facilities to restore the impacted drinking water supply. Today, five treatment plants for the cities of Fullerton and Garden Grove and the Serrano and Yorba Linda water districts are operational, including the nation’s largest ion exchange PFAS treatment plant at Yorba Linda Water District headquarters. Over the next two years, 31 additional treatment facilities will be built and brought online. Click here to read more. 

California Water Environment Association (CWEA): CWEA is hosting its Water Professionals Appreciation Week October 19, 2022. Part of the week will be devoted to a webinar highlighting women involved in the water industry. Panelists will share their professional journeys, will discuss how they have navigated various challenges and how they balance professional and personal priorities, and will also answer audience questions. Click here to register.

American Association of Retired Persons California (AARP CA) – AARP CA is celebrating Hispanic Heritage month from September 15 to October 15, by hosting several events. All events are free; advanced registration is required.  Click here to learn more and view the full list.

California Water News September

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 September:

    1. Cal Matters: Four in a row: California drought likely to continue
    2. CBS Los Angeles: 15-day lawn watering restriction begins next week as Municipal Water District crews repair a pipeline
    3. Los Angeles Times: Europe was once green and water-rich. Now, it’s more and more like California
    4. Office of Governor Gavin Newsom: California Is Making It Cheaper to Replace Your Lawn to Save Water and Save Money
    5. San Francisco Chronicle: Water is expensive in California. A new bill could change that

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 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.