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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.


Save the Date! Our Annual Open House is on May 4th
Meet our team and learn about water tours, events and publications exploring hot topics in water, teacher training workshops and leadership programs for up-and-coming professionals

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 — water.

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!

Testing at the Source: California Readies a Groundbreaking Hunt to Check for Microplastics in Drinking Water
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Regulators and water systems are finalizing a first-of-its-kind pilot that will determine whether microplastics are contaminating water destined for the tap

Image shows a test jar filled with microplastic debrisTiny 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 water. 

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 health threat.

A USGS scientist explains groundwater monitoring to participants on our Central Valley Tour.

Visit Groundwater’s Epicenter on April Central Valley Tour; Check Out Groundwater Resources
For Groundwater Awareness Week, Learn More About This Key California Water Resource With Foundation Map, Guide, Newsfeed & more

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. 

Groundwater gushes from a pump in the Central Valley of California.

Join Groundwater Awareness Event Monday, Read about Aquifer Recharge & Learn about Groundwater on Central Valley Tour

As we approach next week’s National Groundwater Awareness Week, we have several groundwater-related events, articles and tours to share with you.

California Water Agencies Hoped A Deluge Would Recharge Their Aquifers. But When It Came, Some Couldn’t Use It
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: January storms jump-started recharge projects in badly overdrafted San Joaquin Valley, but hurdles with state permits and infrastructure hindered some efforts

An intentionally flooded almond orchard in Tulare CountyIt 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.


2023 Water Leaders Class Examines Ways to Leverage Green Infrastructure to Help Manage California’s Water
Rising stars in the water world chosen for highly competitive leadership program

Image shows members of the 2023 Water Leaders cohort.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 development program.

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 here.


Explore a Watershed by Land & Water on our Optional Water 101 Tour
Journey from the Foothills to the Delta the Day after our Water 101 Workshop

Attendance at our annual Water 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 “Supershed Approach” that stretches from the headwaters to the valley floor.


Four New Board Members Bring A Range of Experience To Water Education Foundation

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 impartial nonprofit based in Sacramento.


California Water Rights, History and Groundwater Among Water 101 Workshop Topics
Jump on the bus for an optional watershed tour the next day

Photo shows a presenter at Water 101 Workshop.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.


Water 101 Workshop Offers Rookies & Veterans Alike a Chance to Gain a Deeper Understanding of California Water
Feb. 23 Workshop in Sacramento includes optional one-day Watershed Tour on Feb. 24

Image shows a presenter and some of the audience at Water 101 WorkshopOne 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.

In One of the Snowiest Places in the West, A Scientist Hunts for Clues to the Sierra Snowpack’s Future
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Central Sierra Snow Lab Manager Andrew Schwartz Aims to Help Water Managers Improve Tracking of Snowpack Crucial to California's Drought-Stressed Water Supply

Photo of Andrew Schwartz, manager and lead scientist at the Central Sierra Snow Laboratory.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 Antarctica.  

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.


Ringing in a New Year with a Feast!
Learn what's on tap at the Water Education Foundation in 2023 with the traditional New Year's letter from the executive director

Jenn Bowles, Water Education Foundation Executive DirectorHappy 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 Leaders class. 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 Now Open for Water 101 Workshop & Lower Colorado River Tour
Reserve your spot for the Foundation's popular programs in early 2023 before they're gone

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.


Support Water Education in California and the West with a Year-End Donation
Your tax-deductible gift helps make our work possible

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.


2022 Water Leaders Class Releases Policy Recommendations for Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Water Quality Control Plan Update

Our 2022 Water Leaders class completed its year with a report outlining policy recommendations for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Water Quality Control Plan update.

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.

Among their key recommendations:


Hot Off the Press! Layperson’s Guide to Water Conservation is Now Available
Seventh edition covers what’s driving the need for water conservation and how homeowners can save water

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 natural resource. 

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 save water.

Attendees listen to a speaker at a Water 101 Workshop.

Save the Dates for Water 101 & Lower Colorado River Tour; We’re Hiring!
Read About Saving the Shrinking Colorado River; Grab a Holiday Book Deal

In this issue:

  • Mark your calendars now for great Foundation programming in early 2023
  • We’re hiring a new News & Publications Director
  • Latest Western Water article examines the struggle for solutions on a shrinking Colorado River
  • Time is running out to take advantage of a holiday special on a California water book 

As Colorado River Flows Drop and Tensions Rise, Water Interests Struggle to Find Solutions That All Can Accept
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Chorus of experts warn climate change has rendered old assumptions outdated about what the Colorado River can provide, leaving painful water cuts as the only way forward

Photo shows Hoover Dam’s intake towers protruding from the surface of Lake Mead near Las Vegas, where water levels have dropped to record lows amid a 22-year drought. 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.


Don’t Miss This Sweet Holiday Deal on a Beautiful Water Book
Get 50% off Water & the Shaping of California, the perfect holiday gift for anyone interested in water

Cover of Water and the Shaping of CaliforniaHere’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.


There’s Still Time! Support the Water Education Foundation on Giving Tuesday
Your Support Makes a Critical Impact on Water Education in California and the West

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.