California Water Association (CWA), California Water Service (Cal Water) and San Jose Water Company were among 26 sponsors for the annual Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL) held March 4-5, 2016, in San Jose. More than 150 Hispanic local and state leaders in the water industry, including local water district board members, city council members, county commissioners and special district board members, were in attendance. Among the topics covered were the history and governance of water in California, the basics of California water infrastructure and finance, a roadmap to the many state and local agencies responsible for water and a primer on California’s “Human Right to Water” statute with particular emphasis on how the state is implementing the law.
The keynote address was delivered by Tom Steyer, Founder and President of NextGen Climate, a San Francisco-based environmental advocacy organization that promotes aggressive public policy actions to mitigate climate change impacts. His remarks focused on the link between climate change in California and the potentially damaging effects on long-term water supply options.
Newly elected California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon treated the audience to a personal history on his career path to the speakership emphasizing how he became a legislative leader in water. He welcomed the assistance of the local Latino water leaders with the state’s 2016 legislative water agenda and noted that assistance for water-short and drought-impacted disadvantaged communities in the state is a top priority for him and California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León.
The CWA member company representatives present at the conference were pleased to have Commissioner Catherine Sandoval of the California Public Utilities Commission as a featured speaker. She highlighted the exceptional conservation and water-use reduction performance of the Latino communities throughout the state, especially in East Los Angeles where residents have exceeded the conservation goals set forth by the State Water Resources Control Board to a higher degree than their more affluent counterparts living in the state’s coastal cities. She also praised the investor-owned water companies for working with their customers so effectively on the water-use reduction goals. She singled out Cal Water for providing water supply assistance to drought-stricken communities in the Central Valley.