More than 100 Latino local elected officials, consisting of mayors, city council, Assembly and Senate members, attended the Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL) conference in Los Angeles on March 21-22. WELL, which was sponsored by more than 25 utility and water-related organizations, including California Water Association (CWA), is a statewide educational conference for California’s Latino elected officials. It provided a forum for baseline knowledge about California’s water system and a comprehensive review of California water policy.
Commissioner Catherine Sandoval of the California Public Utilities Commission addressed the conference using her WATER acronym (Water – Affordability – Tiers (conservation rates) – Energy – Reliability) as the platform for her remarks. She outlined the water needs of Northern and Southern California, the challenges to reliable supply, the cost and affordability implications for disadvantaged communities, and she encouraged local leaders to get involved and understand water.
Former United States Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis gave the keynote address on the weighty topic, “Who is Missing from Water Debates and Why it is Important to Latinos and All Californians: Consideration of Regional Approaches.” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, spoke at lunch on the topic, “When It Comes To Water, We Are All Connected.” Former State Senator Richard Palanco and current Senator Kevin de Leon closed the conference with a call to action on Latino involvement in water policy.