WELL UnTapped 2019
The 2019 UnTapped Cohort consisted of 12 elected officials from throughout the state. That year, fellows traveled to different watersheds in California to learn about regional water challenges and best practices, as well as to develop the leadership and interpersonal skills to make a lasting impact on California water policy.
January 11–13, 2019: The opening retreat of UnTapped 2019 took place in Los Angeles, which included a tour of the LA River and team-building exercises, such as speed interviews and Active Learning. Fellows interviewed and heard from guest speakers: Anthony Rendon, speaker of the California State Assembly for Los Angeles County; Jonathan Parfrey, Founder and Executive Director of Climate Resolve; and Marissa Christiansen and Stephen Majia from Friends of the LA River.
February 8–9, 2019: UnTapped Fellows traveled to Fresno to tour the Southeast Surface Water Treatment Plant. They practiced Methods of Inquiry during interviews with Gary Salado and Susana De Anda in order to learn about the Human Right to Water. Fellows met with FW original board member Gilbert Padilla, Fresno Councilmember Miguel Arias, and members of UnTapped Cohort 1, Jose Ornelas and Daniel Parra. The class ended with Public Narrative Training.
March 1–2, 2019: Fellows visited the Coachella Valley to explore a myriad of issues facing the Salton Sea, Polanco Parks, and the Colorado River. Fellows learned about the Salton Sea from Bruce Wilcox, Assistant Secretary for Salton Sea Policy, who is an ecologist with more than 20 years of experience in the environmental consulting industry. They also heard from Peter Nelson, a member of the Coachella Valley Water District Board of Directors since 2000. He also served on the Salton Sea Authority from 2000 to 2014. UnTapped fellows also interviewed Sergio Carranza, Executive Director of Pueblo Unido. They then practiced the Methods of Inquiry and Public Narratives with Jake Waxman.
April 12–13, 2019: UnTapped fellows spent two days in San Jose learning about water distribution, purification and desalination costs, and stormwater storage. They toured the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center and interviewed three experts: Nina Hawk, Chief Operating Officer for Water Utility at the Santa Clara Valley Water District; Tony Estremera, Director of Valley Water, who also has extensive government experience in Santa Clara County; and Steven Ritchie, Assistant General Manager for Water at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.The UnTapped class also rehearsed their Public Narratives.
May 3–4, 2019: The National Chavez Center hosted UnTapped in Keene, California, where Fellows learned about the Human Right to Water and groundwater management. The fellows toured the Chavez Monument and grounds, and afterward spoke to President and Chairman of the Cesar Chavez Foundation, Paul Chavez. Mr. Chavez is one of eight children of Cesar and Helen Chavez; he has spent his entire life with the farmworker movement. The fellows also interviewed award-winning author and Assistant Professor at UC Merced, Dr. Mario Sifuentez, to understand the Central Valley perspective on the Human Right to Water and groundwater challenges. After the interviews, the UnTapped class participated in a groundwater exercise designed by WELL and the Environmental Defense Fund.
June 6–7, 2019: The UnTapped 2019 Cohort met with state legislators in Sacramento to discuss the Legislative Workshops Project on Statewide Reliability on Integrated Water. The day started with the fellows engaging with state legislators with all the tools gained from previous sessions. After the UnTapped class debriefed the legislative meetings, they enjoyed a tour of the Delta and learned about engineering dilemmas and solutions. Speakers included Jonas Minton from the Planning and Conservation League, who has worked on issues surrounding water use and water policy, including as the former Deputy Director of the California Department of Water Resources; Delta expert Curt Schmutte, who assists with legislative and policy strategies, planning emergency actions to protect the Delta, and advancing new conceptual water conveyance alternatives; and Supervising Naturalist, Michael Moran, a specialist in marine and aquatic science. The meetings concluded with the fellows graduating as the UnTapped Class of 2019.