WELL UnTapped 2022
The 2022 UnTapped Cohort consisted of fourteen elected officials from throughout the state of California. The fellows traveled to different areas in California to learn about regional water challenges and best practices and to develop the leadership and interpersonal skills necessary to make a lasting impact on California water policy.
January 7–9, 2022: WELL hosted the first UnTapped Fellowship Session for the class of 2022 in the Coachella Valley. This cohort is composed of 14 Fellows that come statewide, representing various areas of California, including the L.A., O.C., Northern CA, and Central Valley regions. These Fellows embarked on their journey to learn how to make an impact on California’s water policy while addressing individual community challenges with water. The first session focused on teaching Fellows how to use the Method of Inquiry to ask questions and find out how to extract the information needed to make choices about complex water policy and management.
Fellows visited various locations in the Coachella Valley region and interviewed guests to learn about community water challenges and the history of water in the area. Guest Interviewees included Cástulo Estrada Director, Coachella Valley Water District; Patrick Dowell, Executive Director, Salton Sea Authority; Monica Telles, Development Specialist, County of Riverside; and Peter Nelson, Director, Coachella Valley Water District. Fellows interviewed these guests to learn about the Salton Sea, the history of the conveyance systems in the region, and the water quality issues the residents in this region face. These interviews also included on-site visits to the Salton Sea, the American Cannel, and the Polanco Parks (mobile home parks). Finally, Fellows also received a lesson on California water history from Professor Samuel Sandoval to understand the complexity of water in our state.
February 4-5, 2022, WELL hosted the second UnTapped Fellowship Session for the class of 2022 in Tehachapi, CA. The second session was hosted at the National Chavez Center and included a tour of the Cesar Chavez National Park by Paul Chavez, President of the Cesar Chavez Foundation and son of Cesar Chavez. This session focused on teaching Fellows the basics of Hydrology and learning the craft of Public Narrative.
February 17, 2022, WELL hosted the third UnTapped Fellowship Session for the class of 2022 on Zoom. This session focused on teaching Fellows about California Water Storage. Fellows interviewed Professor Andrew T. Fisher to learn about groundwater storage, surface water reservoirs, flood management, and watershed management. In the end, Professor Fisher shared his recommendations on water storage management. This lesson will help fellows understand the many forms of water storage and the different uses in California.
March 4, 2022, WELL hosted the fourth UnTapped Fellowship session for the class of 2022 on Zoom. This session 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 to learn about water conveyance systems in California. This lesson will help fellows understand the importance of these conveyance systems and the current challenges facing conveyance projects.
March 24, 2022, WELL hosted the fifth UnTapped Fellowship session for the class of 2022 on Zoom. This session focused on teaching Fellows about contaminants in water. Fellows interviewed Rachel Kennard, Source Water Protection Specialist, California Rural Water Association to learn about water contaminants. This lesson will help fellows understand the effects water contaminants have on public health, the cost of treatment, and their role in addressing water quality issues.
April 7, 2022, WELL hosted the sixth UnTapped Fellowship session for the class of 2022 on Zoom. This session focused on teaching Fellows about the Portfolio of Water Management Strategies. Fellows interviewed Newsha Ajami, Chief Development Officer for Research, Berkeley Lab’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Area. This lesson will help fellows understand water demand strategies, the need to increase water supply through new technology, water storage, efficiency, and their role in the integrated water resources management approach.
April 21, 2022, WELL hosted the seventh UnTapped Fellowship session for the class of 2022 on Zoom. This session focused on teaching fellows about financing. Fellows interviewed B. Anatole Falagán, P.E., Assistant General Manager, Long Beach Water. This lesson helped fellows understand setting water rates, funding for water infrastructure and development, and about state and federal financing, bonds, and Props 13, 26, and 218.
May 18-19, 2022, WELL hosted the ninth, and final UnTapped Fellowship Session for the class of 2022 in Sacramento, CA. The ninth session was hosted at the capital where Fellows met with their legislatures to invite them to co-host a legislative workshop in their districts. The purpose of the legislative workshop is 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.
On Day 1 after their legislative visits, WELL hosted a graduation dinner on a boat on the Sacramento River. In attendance, to celebrate the graduation from the program 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, and the City of Calistoga; Marc Grossman, Spokesperson, Cesar Chavez Foundation; Miguel Luna, Board Member, WELL and Director, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; Professor Samuel Sandoval Solis, UC Davis; and Victor Griego, President & Founder, WELL.
On Day 2, the WELLo’s received a tour of the California Delta (Delta) from Michael George, Delta Watermaster, State Water Resources Control Board. Along the way, they made stops at several water facilities to understand the Delta’s role in California’s agriculture sector, the environment, and cities.
This session marked the end of the Fellowship and the beginning of the work they will continue to do in their communities 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. This class brings the total number of graduates of the Fellowship to 45. The WELLo’s are statewide and comprised of local elected officials ranging from city council members, school board members, county supervisors, and water board members.
Visit the linkt.ree in our bio to read the bios of the class of 2022 and to fill out the interest form to learn how you can be a part of the next cohort!