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
What We Do
We support and execute a wide variety of programming to build a
better understanding of water resources across the West,
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
Join us May 4 for an open house and
reception at our office near the Sacramento River to meet our
team and learn more about what we do to educate and foster
understanding of California’s most precious natural resource —
At the open house, you can enjoy refreshments and chat with our
team about our tours, conferences, maps, publications and
training programs for teachers and up-and-coming water industry
professionals. You’ll also be able to learn more about how you
can support our work – and you’ll have a chance to win prizes!
Tiny pieces of plastic waste shed
from food wrappers, grocery bags, clothing, cigarette butts,
tires and paint are invading the environment and every facet of
daily life. Researchers know the plastic particles have even made
it into municipal water supplies, but very little data exists
about the scope of microplastic contamination in drinking
After years of planning, California this year is embarking on a
first-of-its-kind data-gathering mission to illuminate how
prevalent microplastics are in the state’s largest drinking water
sources and help regulators determine whether they are a public
This is National Groundwater Awareness Week and we have an array
of groundwater-related events and resources to help you deepen
your knowledge of this vital part of California’s water resources
and keep up with developments as they happen.
It was exactly the sort of deluge
California groundwater agencies have been counting on to
replenish their overworked aquifers.
The start of 2023 brought a parade of torrential Pacific storms
to bone dry California. Snow piled up across the Sierra Nevada at
a near-record pace while runoff from the foothills gushed into
the Central Valley, swelling rivers over their banks and filling
seasonal creeks for the first time in half a decade.
Suddenly, water managers and farmers toiling in one of the
state’s most groundwater-depleted regions had an opportunity to
capture stormwater and bank it underground. Enterprising agencies
diverted water from rushing rivers and creeks into manmade
recharge basins or intentionally flooded orchards and farmland.
Others snagged temporary permits from the state to pull from
streams they ordinarily couldn’t touch.
Twenty-two early to mid-career
water professionals from across California have been chosen for
the 2023 William R. Gianelli Water Leaders Class, the Water
Education Foundation’s highly competitive and respected career
This Water Leaders cohort includes engineers, lawyers, resource
specialists, scientists and others from a range of public and
private entities and nongovernmental organizations from
throughout the state. The roster for the 2023
class can be found
Attendance at our
101 Workshop includes the option of
participating in a daylong ‘watershed’ journey on Friday,
Feb. 24, that will take you from the foothills of
the Sierra Nevada, along the American River and into the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The tour includes an on-the-water lunch cruise aboard the
River City Queen as we head down the
Sacramento River from the confluence of the American River
to the community of Freeport, the “Gateway to the Delta.”
Among the tour stops are Folsom Lake, Nimbus Dam, salmon spawning
habitat in the American River, Freeport Regional Water
Facility, Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge,
Delta farmland and the Delta Cross Channel.
Led by Foundation staff and featuring a host of other water
experts, the tour will also include a firsthand look at efforts
to better handle the effects of climate change through a
Approach” that stretches from the headwaters to the valley
Four new members bringing a wide
range of water resource experiences and perspectives have joined
the Water Education Foundation Board. They include
representatives from Environmental Defense Fund, a Southern
California water agency, an engineer and a water policy manager
for a municipal utility association.
They join a volunteer board of more than 30
directors representing a broad cross-section of
water, education, business, environmental, agricultural and
public interest communities that governs the Foundation, an
based in Sacramento.
Don’t miss a once-a-year
opportunity at our Water
101 Workshop to get a primer on California’s
water history, laws, geography and politics.
One of our most popular events, the annual workshop will be
hosted at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento
on Thursday, Feb. 23. California’s
water basics will be covered by some of the state’s leading
policy and legal experts, and participants will have an
opportunity to engage directly with the guest
speakers during Q&A sessions.
One of the Foundation’s most popular
events, our daylong Water
101 Workshop on Feb. 23 offers a
once-a-year opportunity for anyone new to California water issues
or newly elected to a water district board — and really anyone
who wants a refresher — to gain a solid statewide grounding
of California’s most precious natural resource.
Hosted at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, Water 101 details
the history, hydrology and law behind water management in
California and is taught by some of the state’s leading policy
and legal experts.
Growing up in the shadow of the
Rocky Mountains, Andrew Schwartz never missed an opportunity to
play in – or study – a Colorado snowstorm. During major
blizzards, he would traipse out into the icy wind and heavy
drifts of snow pretending to be a scientist researching in
Decades later, still armed with an obsession for extreme weather,
Schwartz has landed in one of the snowiest places in the West,
leading a research lab whose mission is to give California water
managers instant information on the depth and quality of snow
draping the slopes of the Sierra Nevada.
Happy New Year to all the friends, supporters, readers and tour and workshop participants of the Water Education Foundation! We’re grateful to each and every person who interacted with us in 2022.
As we turn the page to 2023, flood-swamping atmospheric rivers have put a dent in our drought in California and across the West. Time will tell just how much. Ideally we want storms more spaced out through the winter. However they come, you can always keep up with the latest drought/flood/snowpack developments of our “feast or famine” water world with our weekday news aggregate known as Aquafornia.
At the Foundation, our array of 2023 programming begins later this month as we welcome our incoming Water Leadersclass. We’ll be sure to introduce them to you and let you know what thorny California water policy topic they’ll be attempting to solve.
Registration for the Foundation’s early 2023 programming is now
open, so don’t miss once-a-year opportunities
for our Water 101 Workshop Feb. 23 and
our Lower Colorado River Tour March 8-10.
Find more information and registration details below.
With persistent drought and climate
change challenging water supplies in California and across the
West, it has never been more important to be informed about our
most vital natural resource. Our tours, events and publications
help educate and inspire understanding about water.
Your support helps
make that work possible.
Our 2022 Water Leaders class
completed its year with a report outlining policy recommendations
for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Water Quality Control Plan
The cohort of 20
up-and-coming leaders from various water-related
fields – engineers, attorneys, planners, scientists and
those from the environmental and agricultural sectors – had
full editorial control to choose recommendations.
The Water Education Foundation’s
seventh edition of the Layperson’s
Guide to Water Conservation is hot off the
press and available for purchase. With California and the West in
the grip of persistent drought, the guide provides an excellent
overview of the forces driving conservation and the measures
water users are taking to more efficiently use our most vital
The 20-page guide covers such topics as how drought and climate
change are affecting California and the Colorado River Basin, how
some Southwestern cities are stretching supplies, the impact of
landscape choices on water use, how farms are changing to more
efficient irrigation practices, and what homeowners can to do
When the Colorado River Compact was
signed 100 years ago, the negotiators for seven Western states
bet that the river they were dividing would have ample water to
meet everyone’s needs – even those not seated around the table.
A century later, it’s clear the water they bet on is not there.
More than two decades of drought, lake evaporation and overuse of
water have nearly drained the river’s two anchor reservoirs, Lake
Powell on the Arizona-Utah border and Lake Mead near Las Vegas.
Climate change is rendering the basin drier, shrinking spring
runoff that’s vital for river flows, farms, tribes and cities
across the basin – and essential for refilling reservoirs.
The states that endorsed the Colorado River Compact in 1922 – and
the tribes and nation of Mexico that were excluded from the table
– are now straining to find, and perhaps more importantly accept,
solutions on a river that may offer just half of the water that
the Compact assumed would be available. And not only are
solutions not coming easily, the relationships essential for
compromise are getting more frayed.
Here’s a sweet deal for the holidays
that won’t last long: Get our paperback “Water & the
Shaping of California,” a treasure trove of gorgeous
color photos, historic maps, water literature and famous sayings
about water for just $17.50 – a 50% discount.
“Water & the Shaping of California” is a beautifully designed
book that discusses the engineering feats, political decisions
and popular opinions that reshaped nature and society, leading to
the water projects that created the California we know today. The
book includes a foreword by the late Kevin Starr, the Golden
State’s premier historian.
Since 1977 the Water Education
Foundation has committed its work to inspiring better
understanding and supporting critical conversations about our
most vital natural resource: water. This is not a mission our
impartial nonprofit can carry on without you.
Today on Giving Tuesday, a global day of philanthropy, please
consider making a tax-deductible
donation to support the important work we do to provide
impartial education and foster informed decision-making on water
resource issues in California and the West.