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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.


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.


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 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.”