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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.


Explore the Heart of California Water Next Month on Bay-Delta Tour; Registration Now Open for June Headwaters Tour
Optional Pre-Tour Whitewater Rafting Trip Offered with Sierra Nevada Journey

Don’t miss your chance to go deep into California’s water hub next month with our most popular annual tour, the Bay-Delta Tour May 17-19! Plus, registration is now open for the return of our Headwaters Tour June 21-22, with an optional rafting trip on the American River the day before.

See below for more details on both spring tours.


Join Our Once-A-Year Bay-Delta Tour; Meet our Team at an Open House; Registration Coming Soon for Headwaters Tour
Optional Rafting Trip Offered with June Headwaters Tour

Spring is a busy time at the Foundation! Don’t miss these upcoming opportunities to visit important regions in the state’s water story firsthand and engage directly with experts in California water. Plus, you can meet our team in person at our annual open house to learn more about how we educate and foster understanding of California’s most precious natural resource — water!


Former Director for Reclamation’s Lower Colorado River Region Elected Board President of Water Education Foundation
Terry Fulp Played Lead Role in Negotiating Drought Contingency Plans, Operating Guidelines and Binational Agreements

Terry FulpSACRAMENTO, Calif. – Terry Fulp, who served as the Bureau of Reclamation’s regional director for the Lower Colorado River Basin and played a lead role in negotiating drought contingency plans, operating guidelines and binational agreements with Mexico, was elected president of the Water Education Foundation’s board of directors.


Bay-Delta Tour is a Once-a-Year, Don’t-Miss Opportunity to Explore California’s Vital Water Hub May 17-19
Hear diverse views & go behind the scenes on our popular tour of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta & San Francisco Bay

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is the West Coast’s largest estuary, a vital hub in California’s complex water delivery system and a rich farming area. But the region faces myriad challenges. 

On our annual Bay-Delta Tour May 17-19, participants will hear from a diverse group of experts including water managers, environmentalists, farmers, engineers and scientists who will offer various perspectives on a proposed tunnel project that would carry water beneath the Delta, efforts to revitalize the Delta and risks that threaten its delicate ecological balance. You’ll also hear firsthand from people who rely on the Pacific salmon fishery for their livelihoods and learn why there is likely to be a fishing ban this season despite one of the wettest winters on record in California.


RSVP for Our Annual Open House on May 4th
Meet our team & learn about tours, events, publications, teacher training workshops & leadership programs for up-and-coming water professionals

Join us May 4 for our annual Open House & 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!


Join Us for a Journey through the Bay-Delta in May
Get a firsthand look at California's vital water hub and hear directly from experts on key issues affecting the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Register today for our most popular tour, the Bay-Delta Tour May 17-19, and join us as we venture into the most critical and controversial water region in California, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The 720,000-acre network of islands and channels supports the state’s two large water systems – the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project – and together with the San Francisco Bay is an important ecological resource.

You’ll learn firsthand how the drought-to-deluge of 2023 has affected the water quality and supply that serves local farms, cities and habitat. Much of the water heads south via canals and aqueducts to provide drinking water for more than 27 million Californians and irrigation to about 3 million acres of farmland that helps feed the nation.


Latest Western Water Article Examines California’s Groundbreaking Effort to Look for Microplastics in Drinking Water Supplies
On World Water Day, learn about additional resources available on water in California and across the West

Photo shows bits of plastic at the bottom of a laboratory jar. Tiny pieces of plastic 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 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. The latest Western Water article by our journalism team explores California’s groundbreaking program that could help regulators determine whether microplastics are a public health threat and lead to the world’s first standard for microplastics in drinking water. 


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.