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Building Bridges for Water Justice: A Look at the Groundswell for Water Justice Rally

January 19, 2024

In California, water sustainability and management have always been critical areas of discussion and advocacy, given the state’s arid climate and reliance on agriculture, manufacturing, and urban development. However, traditional decision-making structures in the water sector have predominantly been led by industry experts and government officials, often leaving behind marginalized communities and environmental justice concerns. On January 16th, the Southern California Water Coalition joined Groundswell for Water Justice to make a difference in Sacramento. This advocacy event marked a significant step to build bridges across diverse voices and reshape the conversation on water justice in California.

Left to right: Steve Elie, Antonio Villaraigosa, Richard Polanco, Michael Camacho

The Groundswell advocacy event aimed to bring together stakeholders from various sectors, including community leaders, non-profit organizations, and elected officials, to discuss the importance of integrating equity and sustainability in water management. The event featured a dynamic range of speakers and attendees, including State Infrastructure Advisor and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Metropolitan Water District board members Miguel Luna and Michael Camacho, SCWC Vice Chair and Inland Empire Utilities Agency Board member Steve Elie, and former Senator Richard Polanco, to name a few. SCWC Executive Director Charley Wilson provided rousing remarks during the rally.

One of the primary objectives of the event was to highlight the need for collaboration across diverse communities and interests to achieve meaningful progress in water policy. For too long, the water sector has operated in silos, with little communication and cooperation between different groups. The SCWC and Groundswell for Water Justice recognized this gap and worked towards bridging the divide. Through this collaboration, they were able to bring together individuals who may not have typically worked together.

Another key takeaway from the event was the importance of community engagement and empowerment in water management. Many communities across California, particularly low-income and minority neighborhoods, have been disproportionately impacted by inadequate access to clean and affordable water resources. Groundswell for Water Justice aims to bring these issues to light through community-led research and advocacy.

The Southern California Water Coalition and Groundswell for Water Justice advocacy event was a groundbreaking step in reshaping the conversation on water sustainability and management in California. By bringing together diverse voices and perspectives from outside traditional water sectors, the event emphasized the need for community engagement, innovation, and collaboration to create sustainable and just water systems. It is now up to all stakeholders in the water sector to continue to build upon this momentum and work to create a better future for all Californians. The event served as a reminder that water justice is not a zero-sum game and that all stakeholders must work together towards a common goal.

You can view more photos from the day in our Flickr album.


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