Home Water Topics

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.


Giving Tuesday is Your Chance to Support Water Education in California and the West
Our programs help empower teachers and the next generation of leaders in water

Photo shows teachers trying their hand at a classroom lesson on water.Today on Giving Tuesday, a global day of philanthropy, you can support impartial education and informed decision-making on water resources in California and the West by making a tax-deductible donation to the Water Education Foundation.

Your support ensures that our 45-year legacy of producing in-depth news, educational workshops and accessible information on water reaches new heights in 2023.

What Your Gifts Made Possible in 2022

Teaching the next generation


Agenda Posted for Dec. 8 Winter Outlook Workshop in Southern California
Join Us in Irvine to Hear from Experts on the Prospects for Water Year 2023 & Latest Advances in Precipitation and Snowmelt Forecasting

Don’t miss our Winter Outlook Workshop on Dec. 8 in Irvine to hear an update on what might be in store for this water year, the latest improvements to snowmelt runoff forecasts and insight into whether La Niña conditions projected to persist into this winter really mean anything as a predictor in this new reality of climate whiplash.

You will learn about what is and isn’t known in forecasting winter precipitation weeks to months ahead, the skill of present forecasts and ongoing research to develop predictive ability.

Speakers at the workshop include:

  • Mike Anderson, California’s state climatologist, who will provide a recap of Water Year 2022 and a look at prospects for Water Year 2023
  • Sean DeGuzman, Chief of Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting for the California Department of Water Resources, who will talk about improvements to snowmelt runoff forecasting 
  • Emerson Lajoie, meteorologist at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, who will talk about the the center’s experimental Water Year outlook

Help Make an Impact on Water Education in California and the West Through Workplace Giving
Water Education Foundation participates in payroll deduction programs with federal, state and private employers

Lower Colorado River Tour participants gather in front of Hoover Dam for a group photo. As drought extends its grip on California and the West, the important work of educating about water becomes even more important. Since 1977, the Water Education Foundation has been a trusted source of water news and programming, putting water resource issues in California and the West into context.

You can support the important work of our nonprofit by making a tax-deductible gift via a one-time payroll deduction or a set amount per pay period through your employer, whether you work for a federal or state agency or a private employer. 


Register for Dec. 8 Winter Outlook Workshop in SoCal; 2023 Water Leader Apps Due Dec. 7; Support Water Education through Paycheck Deductions

In this issue:

  • Attend a Southern California workshop to find out more about what’s in store for Water Year 2023 and how improvements in weather forecasting can help with water management decisions.
  • Apply for the 2023 cohort of our popular Water Leaders program.
  • Support water education through paycheck deductions.

Winter Outlook Workshop in Irvine, Dec. 8:

Register to join us Thursday, Dec. 8, for our Winter Outlook Workshop in Irvine. The past three-year span, 2019 to 2022, has officially been the driest ever statewide going back to 1895 when modern records began in California.

With La Niña conditions predicted to persist into this winter, what can reliably be said about the prospects for Water Year 2023? Does La Niña really mean anything for California or is it all washed up as a predictor in this new reality of climate whiplash, and has any of this affected our reliance on historical patterns to forecast California’s water supply?


Foundation Honors CalMatters Reporter for Coverage of Water Resources in California and the West
Rachel Becker is recipient of the first Rita Schmidt Sudman Award for Excellence in Water Journalism, named after Foundation’s former longtime executive director

Rachel Becker, who covers water resource issues for the nonprofit news website CalMatters, is the first recipient of the Water Education Foundation’s Rita Schmidt Sudman Award for Excellence in Water Journalism honoring outstanding work that illuminates complicated water issues in California and the West.

Foundation Executive Director Jenn Bowles announced the award Oct. 27 at the Foundation’s Water Summit in Sacramento. Joining Bowles for the presentation was her predecessor, Sudman, a former radio and television reporter who led the Foundation for nearly 35 years.

Western Water Nick Cahill California Water Map By Nick Cahill

As Climate Change Erodes Western Snowpacks, One Watershed Tries A ‘Supershed Approach’ To Shield Its Water Supply
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Groundwater banks, a high-elevation reservoir and improved weather forecasting are how American River water managers hope to replace the disappearing Sierra Nevada snowpack

Aerial view of French Meadows reservoir, near the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the American River. The foundation of California’s water supply and the catalyst for the state’s 20th century population and economic growth is cracking. More exactly, it’s disappearing.

Climate change is eroding the mountain snowpack that has traditionally melted in the spring and summer to fill rivers and reservoirs across the West. Now, less precipitation is falling as snow in parts of major mountain ranges like California’s Sierra Nevada and the Rockies in the West, and the snow that does land is melting faster and earlier due to warming temperatures.


Apply for 2023 Water Leaders Class by Dec. 7; Join Virtual Q&A on Nov 9
Get tips during the Q&A session on how to apply for program that promotes a deeper understanding of statewide water issues

Water Leader takes notes during orientation.Join a virtual Q&A session on Nov. 9 to get an overview of our popular but competitive Water Leaders program and tips on applying for the 2023 cohort.

The Water Leaders program is aimed at providing a deeper understanding of California water issues and building leadership skills with class members by studying a water-related topic in-depth and working with a mentor. 

The deadline to apply for the 2023 class is Dec. 7, 2022, at 5 p.m. The 10-month program starts with a mandatory orientation on Jan. 26, 2023.

Water Leaders logo

Water Leader Apps Now Open for 2023 Class; Agenda Posted for Water Summit; Save the Date for Winter Outlook Workshop

Applications for our 2023 Water Leaders class are now open, and don’t forget to sign up for our virtual Q&A session on Nov. 9 if you are interested in applying or supporting a candidate.

Our Oct. 27 Water Summit is sold out but find out how you can get on the waitlist; and save the date for Winter Weather Outlook workshop Dec. 8 in Southern California.

Find details below.


Water Education Foundation Mourns Loss of Board President Mike Chrisman
Mr. Chrisman’s family ties go back to the Foundation’s founding in 1977

Mike Chrisman and Executive Director Jenn Bowles at the  Foundation's 2018 Water Summit in Sacramento.The Water Education Foundation is mourning the loss of its Board President Mike Chrisman, the former California Natural Resources Secretary whose family ties to the Foundation go back to its founding in 1977.

Mr. Chrisman, of Visalia, died from complications of cancer Tuesday, Oct. 11. He was 78.

“We are devastated to learn about Mike’s passing,” said Jenn Bowles, the Foundation’s executive director. “He was a wonderfully supportive board president who cared deeply about our mission and was constantly offering to help. Among other things, he served as a mentor to up-and-coming professionals in our Water Leaders program.” 

Photo shows a diminished Lake Oroville, reflecting the effects of drought.

Seats Filling Fast for our Water Summit & Water Leaders Alum Reunion; Join Nov. 9 Q&A on 2023 Water Leader Apps
And don't forget our last tour of the 2022 season along the San Joaquin River

Seats are filling up fast for our remaining fall events, so grab a ticket while you can. Also, check out our virtual Q&A session on Nov. 9 for those interested in applying for next year’s Water Leaders class. More details below.


Inaugural Colorado River Water Leaders Class Releases Recommendations for Post 2026 River Operating Guidelines

Our inaugural 2022 Colorado River Water Leaders class completed its six-month program with a report outlining key policy recommendations for managing the Colorado River after existing operating guidelines expire in 2026.

The class of 13 up-and-coming leaders included engineers, lawyers, resource specialists, scientists and others working for public, private and nongovernmental organizations from across the river’s basin. The class had full editorial control to choose its recommendations.

Photo shows the California state Capitol

Meet Us Next Tuesday at the Capitol; Sign Up for our Annual Water Summit, Water Leaders Alum Reunion and Our Last Tour of 2022

The team at the Water Education Foundation is gearing up for a busy fall programming season. Check out the details below. We hope to see you at some point!

A Colorado River Veteran Moves Upstream and Plunges into The Drought-Stressed River’s Mounting Woes
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Chuck Cullom, a longtime Arizona water manager, brings a dual-basin perspective as top staffer at the Upper Colorado River Commission

Chuck Cullom, executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission. With 25 years of experience working on the Colorado River, Chuck Cullom is used to responding to myriad challenges that arise on the vital lifeline that seven states, more than two dozen tribes and the country of Mexico depend on for water. But this summer problems on the drought-stressed river are piling up at a dizzying pace: Reservoirs plummeting to record low levels, whether Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam can continue to release water and produce hydropower, unprecedented water cuts and predatory smallmouth bass threatening native fish species in the Grand Canyon. 

“Holy buckets, Batman!,” said Cullom, executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission. “I mean, it’s just on and on and on.”


Water Summit to Focus on Rethinking Water in the West in Response to Drought & Climate Change
Oct. 27 event in Sacramento will highlight the push to reexamine our relationship with water resources

Aerial view of Lake Oroville, showing the effects of the 2020-2022 drought.Our premier event of the year, the Foundation’s 38th annual Water Summit on Oct. 27 in Sacramento will highlight conversations that examine our relationship with water resources and how best to address the challenges presented by ongoing drought and a changing climate.

With this year’s theme, Rethinking Water in the West, a variety of policymakers, experts and officials will be discussing important topics in water across California and the West. Conversations will take place around rethinking:

  • Water management in a drought-driven West
  • Water rights in light of drought-spawned shortages and climate change
  • The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which acts as the state’s crucial water hub and serves as a vital ecological resource

In addition, there will be an update on the status of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. 


Seats Filling Fast For Foundation’s Tours, Annual Water Summit & Water Leaders Alum Reunion
Don't Miss San Joaquin River Tour; Stay on Top of Drought News with Aquafornia

​Registration is filling up quickly for our fall programs, including:

Plus, with all the activity involving water in California and the drought gripping the West, be sure to subscribe to our Aquafornia service so you don’t miss out on top water news compiled each weekday and delivered to your inbox.

Check out the details below to learn more about these fall programs and our Aquafornia newsfeed.


Author Highlighting New Ways to Think About Water to be Keynote Speaker at Water Summit
Join us for our premier annual event Oct. 27 in Sacramento; sponsorship opportunities now available

A science journalist and author whose new book highlights efforts to reshape how we think about and work with water will provide the keynote address at the Foundation’s 2022 Water Summit on Oct. 27 in Sacramento.

Author Erica Gies, whose new book is titled Water Always Wins: Thriving in an Age of Drought and Deluge, explores what she calls “Slow Water” innovations that can potentially offer resilience to the increasing severity of droughts and floods brought on by climate change.  


Foundation Journalism Team Highlights Water Issues in California and the West With Newsfeed, Articles and More
Article on Salinas Valley Pilot Project Among Array of Resources That Help You Track Western Drought and Understand Colorado River Challenges

Aerial view of Lake Oroville showing the low lake level resulting from drought.As our programs team at the Water Education Foundation is busy this summer putting together fall events such as tours, our annual Water Summit and our Water Leader alum reunion, our journalism team is helping to raise water awareness every day.

You can access our newsfeed each morning of the top articles on water issues in California and the West and even get it sent to your inbox. You can also find interactive maps showing reservoir levels, water-savings tips and more on our special online drought resource page.

And we just published our latest Western Water article focused on a pilot program in the Salinas Valley that is run remotely out of Los Angeles. It’s offering a test case for how California could provide clean drinking water for isolated rural communities plagued by contaminated groundwater that lack the financial means or expertise to connect to a larger water system. 

Could Virtual Networks Solve Drinking Water Woes for California’s Isolated, Disadvantaged Communities?
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: UCLA pilot project uses high-tech gear in LA to remotely run clean-water systems for small communities in Central California's Salinas Valley

UCLA’s remote water treatment systems are providing safe tap water to three disadvantaged communities in the Salinas Valley. A pilot program in the Salinas Valley run remotely out of Los Angeles is offering a test case for how California could provide clean drinking water for isolated rural communities plagued by contaminated groundwater that lack the financial means or expertise to connect to a larger water system.


Registration Now Open for October 27 Water Summit in Sacramento
Our annual premier event along the Sacramento River part of an engaging fall program schedule

​You can now register for the in-person return of the Foundation’s 38th annual Water Summit, a one-day conference highlighting the latest information and perspectives on water resources in California and the West. The event includes an evening reception along California’s largest and longest river, the Sacramento River, for an opportunity to network with speakers and other attendees from a variety of backgrounds.

Our fall schedule also includes:

  • A reunion for our Water Leaders graduates to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the program
  • Tours exploring California’s two largest rivers, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, to learn more about infrastructure, the impacts on farms, cities and habitat from a third year of drought and salmon restoration efforts.

Check out the details below to learn more about these fall programs.

Logo for Water Leaders alumni

Water Leaders Alumni Reunion In October Marks 25th Anniversary of Preeminent Leadership Program
Reunion headlines fall programming, including our annual water summit and tours of the state's two largest rivers

We are gearing up to mark the 25th anniversary of our Water Leaders class by holding a reunion this fall for the many scientists, farmers, environmentalists, water managers, lawyers, engineers and others who have gone through our program over the years.

The Oct. 26 reunion by the American River will be held the day before our annual Water Summit, which will be open to all interested. 

Registration is coming soon for the reunion and the Water Summit, but you can sign up now for our fall tours, which will take journeys along California’s two longest rivers. Seats are already filling up! Check out the details below to learn more about these upcoming programs.