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WELL UnTapped 2023

The 2023 UnTapped Cohort consists of 17 elected officials from throughout the state of California. The fellows are traveling 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’s water policy.

January 2022, 2023: Coachella, CA

The first UnTapped Fellowship Session for the class of 2023 kicked off in the Coachella Valley. This cohort is composed of 17 Fellows that come statewide, representing various areas of California, including the L.A., Northern CA, and the Central Valley regions. These Fellows embarked on their journey to learn how to make an impact on California’s water policy while addressing their community water challenges. The first session focused on teaching Fellows how to use the WELL Method of Inquiry to extract the information needed to make complex choices about water policy and management, they also 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, Boardmember, WELL and Vice President, Coachella Valley Water District; Patrick O’Dowd, Executive Director, Salton Sea Authority; Monica Telles, Community Facilities and Water & Environmental Programs Specialist, Indio Service Center, Rural Development, USDA; Elizabeth Marquez, TLMA Regional Office Manager, County of Riverside; Luis Andrade, Water and Environmental Program Director, USDA, and Peter Nelson, Director, Coachella Valley Water District, and Member, Colorado River Board of California. 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 Coachella Branch of the American Canal, and the Polanco Parks (mobile home parks). Fellows also received a lesson on California water history from Professor Samuel Sandoval Solis, Policy and Curriculum Advisor, WELL, to understand the complexity of water in our state. Finally, Dr. Pablo Ortiz and Dr. Samuel Sandoval Solis taught the fellows a lesson on Hydrology.

A special thank you to Cástulo Estrada, Boardmember, WELL and Vice President, Coachella Valley Water District; Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, District 36; and Mayor Steven Hernandez, City of Coachella, for hosting a dinner for the Fellows on the first night.