A year unlike any other, 2020 provided us with the opportunity to see our coalition members from water and energy utilities, businesses, regional and local government, agriculture, labor, and nonprofits step up to protect public health and safety. Watching the actions of our coalition members as they grappled with the impact of COVID-19 and held critical conversations about racial equity was deeply gratifying — a true light in seemingly dark times. This year has shifted our thinking about how we deliver essential services and we see great promise for the future in this transformation.
We’ve long been proud of the diversity of interests among our coalition members. That’s because we believe that working with and learning from a broad range of people helps us do the important work of ensuring a healthy and reliable water supply for all Californians. 2020 shined a light on the importance of expanding that diversity and inclusion as broadly as possible across a spectrum that includes race, ethnicity, language, gender, abilities/disabilities, socioeconomic status and more. Without a doubt, this year gave the SCWC the opportunity to showcase its ability to adapt in a multitude of ways, while continuing to advance the issues most important to the region’s water supply future.
In light of health precautions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, SCWC adapted its in-person meetings and events to online forums with great success. The inception of the “What Matters” webinar series brought expert panels together to discuss innovative solutions to an array of issues relevant to California water professionals including stormwater, human resources, communications, water policy, and more. The webinars offered collaborative discussion between panels of diverse water professionals to address topical issues with cooperation and innovative thinking.
Some notable milestones in 2020 include:
- Janice Rutherford, Supervisor for San Bernardino County’s 2nd District, named Chair of SCWC Board of Trustees
- Nearly 1,000 people registered for our What Matters webinars
- More than 25,000 views of our new animated recycled water video series “Water: Too Precious to Use Just Once” (available in English and Spanish)
- New SCWC website launched
- New Recycled Water Task Force created
- Annual event and award presentation adapted to a virtual format, featuring remarks by Jim Brulte of California Strategies and Garry South of Garry South Consulting; a special message from U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein; presentation of Hon. Harriett Wieder Award to Jeffrey Kightlinger, General Manager, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; the announcement of the Kathy Cole Award to David Pedersen, General Manager, Las Virgenes Municipal Water District; a keynote by Brenda Burman, Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation; and a fun trivia game with featured players Phyllis Currie, Jeffrey Kightlinger, Felicia Marcus and Brian Thomas.
- Release of the white paper “Rewiring Water Conservation for Energy: How Southern California Utilities Make It Work“
A highlight in water news this year was that the final version of the California Water Resilience Portfolio was published in late July. The document included a single-tunnel, modern conveyance solution as one of the portfolio’s key actions. The SCWC continued its support of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s efforts to modernize the State Water Project’s water delivery system and are pleased to see the state moving forward with the portfolio. The SCWC has always supported collaborative, solution-based efforts such as this to secure resource resiliency for all citizens of California.
To download the Southern California Water Coalition Annual Report for 2020, click here.