At the January 26, 2024, Board meeting of the Southern California Water Coalition, California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot had the opportunity to address the diverse array of 35+ Board members, including representatives from top water agencies, businesses, nonprofits, agricultural interests, and labor unions in the region. His main focus was the importance of a modernized Delta Conveyance Project.
During his remarks, Secretary Crowfoot expressed Governor Newsom’s dedication to leaving the water supply in a more adaptable state. He emphasized the need to build local resilience and protect the backbone of the State Water Project. He highlighted the unique geography of California, with its longest mountain range and the drainage of water into a large estuary known as the Delta, which is also an agricultural region. He emphasized that two-thirds of the snowmelt flows through the Delta, making it a vital supply for the State Water Project. Unfortunately, the current system is broken and highly vulnerable, and he drew attention to the sinking of the California Aqueduct.
Secretary Crowfoot also underlined the ticking time bomb in the Delta, where the system is prone to earthquakes. He mentioned that Governor Newsom aims to deliver a construction project by the end of his term.
He stressed that it would be ultimately irresponsible to avoid such a challenging project, comparing it to the generation-defining Golden Gate Bridge and a decisive moment for California’s water, reminiscent of California Governor Pat Brown’s era. He posed the question of whether California is willing to invest in the necessary infrastructure to ensure its water supply resilience.
Following the Board meeting, a group of over 250 people convened in the exquisite Grand Parisian Ballroom at the Mission Inn in Riverside for lunch and a panel discussion centered around the theme of “Diverse Streams, One Goal – Uniting for Change.” The panel featured prominent figures in the water industry and the community, including Miguel Luna, CEO of Urban Semillas; James Morales, Board Member of East Valley Water District; Kurt Wilson, Executive Director of Western Riverside Council of Governments; and Regina Brown Wilson, Executive Director of California Black Media.
Some key points made during the discussion were as follows:
- Kurt Wilson highlighted that the water sector has done a commendable job, resulting in public confidence in what local water agencies are doing. However, he emphasized the need to move people out of their passive stance and actively engage them.
- Miguel Luna stressed the importance of delivering the message effectively. He pointed out that studies have shown that humor can be a powerful way to engage people. Thus, he suggested making the approach more entertaining and engaging, rather than solely focusing on maintenance of infrastructure.
- Regina Wilson discussed the disruptive impact of digital media on information dissemination and the traditional news model. She identified an information gap and emphasized the importance of supporting local news as a means to facilitate dialogue and influence the conversation.
- James Morales shared the example of East Valley Water District’s approach to community engagement. They took a full year to speak to the community and ensure their wastewater treatment plant project included benefits for a disadvantaged neighborhood. This effort aimed to not only educate the community but also foster support for water initiatives and cultivate future water professionals.
Don’t miss out on our next Quarterly Meeting and Luncheon, scheduled for Friday, April 19, 2024 in Temecula, California. Join us as we continue to weave together diverse voices for a water-secure future!
View all the photos from the event on our Flickr page HERE.