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Overview Jenn Bowles

About Us

Who We Are

Facing the challenges of sustainably managing and sharing water, our most precious natural resource, requires collaboration, education and outreach. Since 1977, the Water Education Foundation has put water resource issues in California and the West in context to inspire a deep understanding of and appreciation for water. 

Taking a steady pulse of the water world, the Foundation offers educational materials, tours of key watersheds, water news, water leadership training and conferences that bring together diverse voices. By providing tools and platforms for engagement with wide audiences, we aim to help build sound and collective solutions to water issues.

What We Do

We support and execute a wide variety of programming to build a better understanding of water resources across the West, including:

Why Water?

Mission: The mission of the Water Education Foundation, an impartial nonprofit, is to inspire understanding of water and catalyze critical conversations to build bridges and inform collaborative decision-making 

Vision: A society that has the ability to resolve its water challenges to benefit all

Where We Work

Our office is located in Sacramento, CA.

Connect with Us!

Sign up here to get email announcements about upcoming workshops, tours and new publications.

You can learn more about the daily comings and goings of the Foundation by following @WaterEdFdn on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or following us on LinkedIn.


Registration Now Open for Water 101 Workshop
Feb. 7th workshop in Sacramento to include optional one-day Groundwater Tour

The 2018 Water 101 workshop at McGeorge School of Law. Registration is now open for one of our most popular events – Water 101, which for the first time will include an optional daylong tour examining one of California’s most critical resources, groundwater.

Water 101, to be held Feb. 7 at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, details the history, geography, legal and political facets of water in California as well as hot topics currently facing the state. Taught by some of California’s leading policy and legal experts, the workshop gives attendees a deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural resource.


Latest Western Water Article Looks at How Court Decision Could Affect Groundwater Pumping in California
Pumping near Scott River in Siskiyou County sparks appellate case that extends public trust to some groundwater; explore maps and guides to learn more

In 1983, a landmark California Supreme Court ruling forced Los Angeles to reduce its take of water from Eastern Sierra creeks that fed Mono Lake. It marked a dramatic shift in California water law by extending the public trust doctrine to tributary creeks that fed Mono Lake, which is a navigable water body even though the creeks themselves are not. 

Some 35 years later, an appellate court in Sacramento for the first time has concluded that the same public trust doctrine used in the Mono Lake decision also applies to groundwater feeding the navigable Scott River in a picturesque corner of far Northern California.

Western Water Klamath River Watershed Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

California Leans Heavily on its Groundwater, But Will a Court Decision Tip the Scales Against More Pumping?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Pumping near the Scott River in Siskiyou County sparks appellate court ruling extending public trust doctrine to groundwater connected to rivers

Scott River, in Siskiyou County. In 1983, a landmark California Supreme Court ruling extended the public trust doctrine to tributary creeks that feed Mono Lake, which is a navigable water body even though the creeks themselves were not. The ruling marked a dramatic shift in water law and forced Los Angeles to cut back its take of water from those creeks in the Eastern Sierra to preserve the lake.

Now, a state appellate court has for the first time extended that same public trust doctrine to groundwater that feeds a navigable river, in this case the Scott River flowing through a picturesque valley of farms and alfalfa in Siskiyou County in the northern reaches of California.


Save the Dates for Water 101, Lower Colorado River Tour and More!
Popular Water 101 Workshop includes optional groundwater tour; Santa Ana River Watershed Conference also set

At Hoover Dam on our annual Lower Colorado River TourOur 2019 calendar is starting to fill up, so save the dates for these upcoming tours, workshops and conferences.

Feb. 7: Water 101 Workshop in Sacramento

Our most popular workshop will have an optional groundwater tour the next day. More information coming soon! Read about last year’s workshop here

Feb. 27-March 1: Lower Colorado River Tour


Learn What’s in Store for Water Year 2019 at Dec. 5 Workshop in Irvine
Will it be another “dry, hot and on fire” year?

“Dry, hot and on fire” is how the California Department of Water Resources described Water Year 2018 in a recent report.

The 2018 Water Year (Oct. 1, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018) marked a return to dry conditions statewide — and with much of Southern California receiving half or less of its average annual precipitation — following an exceptionally wet 2017.

Was 2018 simply a single dry year or does it signal the start of another drought? And what can reliably be said about the prospects for Water Year 2019? Does El Niño really mean anything for California, or is it all washed up as a predictor?

At Water Year 2019: Feast or Famine?, a one-day event on Dec. 5 in Irvine, water managers and anyone else interested in this topic will learn about what is and isn’t known about forecasting California’s winter precipitation weeks to months ahead, the skill of present forecasts and ongoing research to develop predictive ability.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman

What Would You Do About Water If You Were California’s Next Governor?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Survey at Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit elicits a long and wide-ranging potential to-do list

There’s going to be a new governor in California next year – and a host of challenges both old and new involving the state’s most vital natural resource, water.

So what should be the next governor’s water priorities?

That was one of the questions put to more than 150 participants during a wrap-up session at the end of the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

In Water-Stressed California and the Southwest, An Acre-Foot of Water Goes a Lot Further Than It Used To
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK-As households get stingier with water, a common guide for describing how much they need gets a refresh

The Antioch/Oakley Regional Shoreline park displays a sign announcing their water conservation efforts at the park in 2014.People in California and the Southwest are getting stingier with water, a story that’s told by the acre-foot.

For years, water use has generally been described in terms of acre-foot per a certain number of households, keying off the image of an acre-foot as a football field a foot deep in water. The long-time rule of thumb: One acre-foot of water would supply the indoor and outdoor needs of two typical urban households for a year.


Only a Few Tickets Left for Northern California Tour
Venture into the Sacramento Valley to see Shasta and Oroville dams, farmland and habitat improvements

Only a few tickets are left for our annual Northern California Tour, Oct. 10-12, when we will venture deep inside Shasta Dam and tour wildlife refuges and rice fields as we learn about water use and salmon restoration efforts in the farm-heavy region.

In addition to Shasta Dam, we will see newly accessible views of the Oroville Dam spillway and get an on-site update of repairs to the cornerstone of the State Water Project, including live camera feeds from the ongoing construction site.


Explore the Effort to Revive Salmon Runs on the San Joaquin River Restoration Tour Nov. 7-8
Agricultural History and Habitat Restoration Come to Life in the Heart of the San Joaquin Valley

Explore more than 100 miles of Central California’s longest river, subject of one of the nation’s largest and costliest river restorations. Our San Joaquin River Restoration Tour on Nov. 7-8 will feature speakers from key governmental agencies and stakeholder groups who will explain the restoration program’s goals and progress.

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Despite Risk of Unprecedented Shortage on the Colorado River, Reclamation Commissioner Sees Room for Optimism
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Commissioner Brenda Burman, in address at Foundation’s Water Summit, also highlights Shasta Dam plan

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda BurmanThe Colorado River Basin is more than likely headed to unprecedented shortage in 2020 that could force supply cuts to some states, but work is “furiously” underway to reduce the risk and avert a crisis, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman told an audience of California water industry people.

During a keynote address at the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento, Burman said there is opportunity for Colorado River Basin states to control their destiny, but acknowledged that in water, there are no guarantees that agreement can be reached.


Farming in the Sacramento Valley a Highlight of the Northern California Tour Oct. 10-12
Discover the various roles agriculture plays in the water story of the Sacramento River and its tributaries

Lundberg Family FarmsOur Oct. 10-12 Northern California Tour will explore the myriad agricultural uses of water throughout the Sacramento Valley, including the latest ways in which farms are adapting to changes in California’s groundwater and surface water resources.

The valley, the northern portion of California’s Central Valley, is known for some 2 million acres of farmland irrigated by the Sacramento River and its tributaries, along with groundwater. Primary crops grown in the region include rice, peaches, plums, tomatoes, walnuts and other nuts.

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Layperson's Guide to the Colorado River Gary Pitzer

Can Steadier Releases from Glen Canyon Dam Make Colorado River ‘Buggy’ Enough for Fish and Wildlife?
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Ted Kennedy, U.S. Geological Survey aquatic scientist

U.S. Geological Survey research ecologist Ted Kennedy collects aquatic invertebrates in the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam.Water means life for all the Grand Canyon’s inhabitants, including the many varieties of insects that are a foundation of the ecosystem’s food web. But hydropower operations upstream on the Colorado River at Glen Canyon Dam, in Northern Arizona near the Utah border, disrupt the natural pace of insect reproduction as the river rises and falls, sometimes dramatically. Eggs deposited at the river’s edge are often left high and dry and their loss directly affects available food for endangered fish such as the humpback chub.

Interior of Shasta Dam

Northern California Tour Visits Oroville and Shasta Dams, Other Major Infrastructure
See key components of the state and federal water projects vital to delivering water across California

Participants of our Northern California Tour, Oct. 10-12, will venture deep inside Shasta Dam, keystone of the federal Central Valley Project, and take a houseboat tour of Shasta Lake, California’s largest reservoir.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

When Water Worries Often Pit Farms vs. Fish, a Sacramento Valley Farm Is Trying To Address The Needs Of Both
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: River Garden Farms is piloting projects that could add habitat and food to aid Sacramento River salmon

Roger Cornwell, general manager of River Garden Farms, with an example of a refuge like the ones that were lowered into the Sacramento River at Redding to shelter juvenile salmon.  Farmers in the Central Valley are broiling about California’s plan to increase flows in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems to help struggling salmon runs avoid extinction. But in one corner of the fertile breadbasket, River Garden Farms is taking part in some extraordinary efforts to provide the embattled fish with refuge from predators and enough food to eat.

And while there is no direct benefit to one farm’s voluntary actions, the belief is what’s good for the fish is good for the farmers.


The Promise and Challenge of Safe, Clean Drinking Water for All Is Focus of Sept. 20 Summit Panel
Get an update from experts and hear about solutions at Water Summit; tickets going fast!

Drinking WaterMore than 260 California water suppliers — many of them small systems in disadvantaged communities — don’t meet safe drinking water standards. One solution to getting those communities clean water is as simple — and as complicated — as connecting them to a larger supplier nearby. 

At the Foundation’s 35th annual Water Summit Sept. 20 in Sacramento, Camille Pannu, director of the Water Justice Clinic at UC Davis’ Aoki Center for Critical Race and Nation Studies, will discuss the complexities of water system mergers and a program underway in the Central Valley that has facilitated more than a dozen such mergers.

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Layperson's Guide to the Colorado River Gary Pitzer

New Leader Takes Over as the Upper Colorado River Commission Grapples With Less Water and a Drier Climate
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Amy Haas, executive director, Upper Colorado River Commission

Amy Haas, executive director, Upper Colorado River CommissionAmy Haas recently became the first non-engineer and the first woman to serve as executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission in its 70-year history, putting her smack in the center of a host of daunting challenges facing the Upper Colorado River Basin.

Yet those challenges will be quite familiar to Haas, an attorney who for the past year has served as deputy director and general counsel of the commission. (She replaced longtime Executive Director Don Ostler). She has a long history of working within interstate Colorado River governance, including representing New Mexico as its Upper Colorado River commissioner and playing a central role in the negotiation of the recently signed U.S.-Mexico agreement known as Minute 323.

Western Water

Explore The Best of Western Water and Tell Us What You Think

Lake TahoeWe hope you are finding time to take a break this summer to enjoy water — a lake or river or a beautiful water vista — somewhere in California and the Southwest. Western Water is taking a break, as well, while we catch up on other water projects we’ll be publishing later this year. 

In the meantime, we wanted to reprise some of our Western Water articles from the past six months — and ask for your feedback.


California’s Headwaters Forests, Besieged by Drought, Beetles and Fire, Among Topics at Sept. 20 Water Summit
Hear from top policymakers and experts on headwaters, controversial Delta flows plan and human right to water at Sacramento summit

Ferguson  Fire near Yosemite National ParkCalifornia’s mountain forests are the source of 60% of the state’s developed water, but they’re under siege from climate change, drought, bark beetles and catastrophic wildfire, including the latest fire sweeping toward Yosemite National Park.

At the Foundation’s 35th annual Water Summit Sept. 20 in Sacramento, a panel of experts will address the breadth of challenges facing the state’s headwaters, some key scientific research on the forests and potential solutions.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

Vexed by Salt And Nitrates In Central Valley Groundwater, Regulators Turn To Unusual Coalition For Solutions
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Left unaddressed, salts and nitrates could render farmland unsuitable for crops and family well water undrinkable

An evaporation pond in Kings County, in the central San Joaquin Valley, with salt encrusted on the soil. More than a decade in the making, an ambitious plan to deal with the vexing problem of salt and nitrates in the soils that seep into key groundwater basins of the Central Valley is moving toward implementation. But its authors are not who you might expect.

An unusual collaboration of agricultural interests, cities, water agencies and environmental justice advocates collaborated for years to find common ground to address a set of problems that have rendered family wells undrinkable and some soil virtually unusable for farming.


Water Summit Panel to Address State Plan Aimed at Increasing Freshwater Flows into Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus joins environmental, agricultural and water user stakeholders to discuss challenges and solutions

Controversial flow requirements for the lower San Joaquin River designed to meet ecological needs of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will be among the topics addressed during the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento.

The Foundation’s 35th annual Water Summit, Facing Reality from the Headwaters to the Delta, will feature panels on the Delta, the Sierra Nevada headwaters and the state’s human right to water law. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman will be the keynote speaker at lunch.