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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.


Latest Western Water Article Examines A “Hatch-and-Release” Program That Aims to Save Delta Smelt From Extinction
Layperson's Guide to the Delta and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map aid understanding of California's most crucial water and ecological resource

Once uncountably numerous, the native Delta smelt since 2016 has largely vanished from most annual sampling surveys in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. But in December, state and federal biologists began for the first time ever releasing captively bred adult Delta smelt into the Delta’s waterways in a three-year effort to draw the species away from the brink of extinction.


Registration Now Open for Bay-Delta Tour May 18-20
Get a firsthand look at California's vital water hub and hear directly from experts on key issues affecting Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Register today for the return of our most popular in-person tour, the Bay-Delta Tour May 18-20, 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 is affecting water quality and supply that serves local farms, cities and habitat. Much of the water also 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.


Learn about California Water Basics and Go Beyond the Headlines at Water 101 Workshop in April
Jump on the bus for an optional groundwater tour the day before

With California diving deeper into a drought, take advantage of this once-a-year opportunity to attend our Water 101 Workshop on April 8 and gain a deeper understanding of the history, hydrology and law behind California’s most precious natural resource.

And go beyond the headlines to learn more about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, disadvantaged communities and the latest on efforts to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.  

With Delta Smelt All But Gone in the Wild, A First-Ever “Hatch-and-Release” Effort Aims to Save Them From Extinction
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Experimental releases of finger-size fish into Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta inspires hope, but also skepticism, about the smelt's future

Crew releases hatchery-raised Delta smelt into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. In the vast labyrinth of the West Coast’s largest freshwater tidal estuary, one native fish species has never been so rare. Once uncountably numerous, the Delta smelt was placed on state and federal endangered species lists in 1993, stopped appearing in most annual sampling surveys in 2016, and is now, for all practical purposes, extinct in the wild. At least, it was.


Water 101 Workshop Offers Rookies and Veterans Alike a Chance to Gain a Deeper Understanding of California Water
April 8 Workshop in Sacramento to include optional one-day Groundwater Tour on April 7

One of our most popular events, Water 101 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 deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural resource.

Water 101, to be held April 8 at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, details the history, geography, legal and political facets of water in California, as well as hot topics currently facing the state. The workshop is taught by some of California’s leading policy and legal experts.

Lower Colorado River Tour poses in front of Hoover Dam on the Colorado River.

Registration Now Open for In-Person Water 101 Workshop & Central Valley Tour; Save the Date for Bay-Delta Tour
Broaden Your Water Knowledge this Spring with the Foundation's Engaging Educational Programs

As COVID-19 restrictions start to loosen up for most indoor settings, we are cautiously moving toward a return of our popular in-person programming this spring starting with our Lower Colorado River Tour in March, our Water 101 Workshop and Central Valley Tour in April and our Bay-Delta Tour in May.


Four New Board Members Bring A Range of Experience To Water Education Foundation
Former Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman, Celeste Cantú, former Reclamation Commissioner Bob Johnson hold key board posts on preeminent nonprofit focused on water education

Four new members bringing a wide range of water resource experiences and perspectives have joined the Water Education Foundation Board. They include representatives from a Native American Tribe and the Nature Conservancy, a lawyer specializing in water resources and a communications and outreach manager for a Southern California water agency. 

They join a board led by Mike Chrisman, who served as California natural resources secretary for seven years under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Enjoy a Scenic Fresh-Air Boat Trip on the Southwest’s Most Iconic River
Join March 16-18 Tour on the Lower Colorado River to Explore Wildlife Habitat In Topock Gorge and Havasu Wilderness Area from River Level

Participants on our in-person Lower Colorado River Tour March 16-18 will enjoy a scenic journey on the iconic river aboard an open-air vessel traveling through the natural wonders of Topock Gorge and the Havasu Wilderness Area.

Itineraries for this year’s slate of water tours have been adjusted to maximize the use of outdoor/open-air venues when possible, in addition to other precautions, including enhanced sanitation protocols and a mask requirement aboard the motorcoach and within indoor spaces until further notice by health officials. Find more details here.

Seating is limited, so register here to reserve your spot today!


2022 Water Leaders Class Evaluates Bay-Delta Water Quality Efforts
Rising stars in the water world chosen for highly competitive leadership program

2022 Water Leaders class members gathered for a group photoTwenty early to mid-career water professionals from across California have been chosen for the 2022 William R. Gianelli Water Leaders Class, the Water Education Foundation’s highly competitive and respected career development program.

This Water Leaders class, which marks the program’s 25th anniversary, 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 2022 class can be found here.


Foundation Seeks Insightful Writer to Join Our Journalism Team and Cover West’s Most Important Natural Resource – Water
Our latest Western Water article examines how drought & climate change in the Colorado River Basin threaten to upend collaborative efforts to equitably share a shrinking river

We’re looking for a special kind of writer to join our team who is eager to produce the kinds of insightful and challenging stories we pursue, such as our latest Western Water article on how drought and climate change are threatening to upend collaboration in the Colorado River Basin.

Are you a journalist enthralled by the history, policy and science behind Western water issues? Then you might be just the right person to join our team. We’re looking for a full-time writer who is deeply knowledgeable about the West’s most precious natural resource in California and the Colorado River Basin, enjoys a fast-paced environment and possesses strong multimedia skills. Learn more about the job here.


Registration Now Open for In-Person Lower Colorado River Tour
Take the Pulse of the ‘Lifeline of the Southwest’ March 16-18

Grab your ticket now for the return of our in-person Lower Colorado River Tour March 16-18!

In the centennial year of the 1922 Colorado River Compact that established a framework for management of the river, the tour will take participants from Hoover Dam downstream to the Mexican border and through the Imperial and Coachella valleys to learn firsthand about the challenges and opportunities now facing the “Lifeline of the Southwest” a hundred years later.

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map By Douglas E. Beeman

As the Colorado River Shrinks, Can the Basin Find an Equitable Solution in Sharing the River’s Waters?
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Drought and climate change are raising concerns that a century-old Compact that divided the river’s waters could force unwelcome cuts in use for the upper watershed

Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, a key Colorado River reservoir that has seen its water level plummet after two decades of drought. Climate scientist Brad Udall calls himself the skunk in the room when it comes to the Colorado River. Armed with a deck of PowerPoint slides and charts that highlight the Colorado River’s worsening math, the Colorado State University scientist offers a grim assessment of the river’s future: Runoff from the river’s headwaters is declining, less water is flowing into Lake Powell – the key reservoir near the Arizona-Utah border – and at the same time, more water is being released from the reservoir than it can sustainably provide.

A Colorado River Veteran Takes on the Top Water & Science Post at Interior Department
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Tanya Trujillo brings two decades of experience on Colorado River issues as she takes on the challenges of a river basin stressed by climate change

Tanya Trujillo, Assistant Interior Secretary for Water and Science For more than 20 years, Tanya Trujillo has been immersed in the many challenges of the Colorado River, the drought-stressed lifeline for 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles and the source of irrigation water for more than 5 million acres of winter lettuce, supermarket melons and other crops.

Trujillo has experience working in both the Upper and Lower Basins of the Colorado River, basins that split the river’s water evenly but are sometimes at odds with each other. She was a lawyer for the state of New Mexico, one of four states in the Upper Colorado River Basin, when key operating guidelines for sharing shortages on the river were negotiated in 2007. She later worked as executive director for the Colorado River Board of California, exposing her to the different perspectives and challenges facing California and the other states in the river’s Lower Basin.


Completely Redesigned Layperson’s Guide to California Water Is Hot Off The Press!
10th edition of our popular guide includes new section on human need for water & updates on water conservation, drought, the Delta, the Salton Sea & more

Image of the cover to Layperson's Guide to California WaterOur Layperson’s Guide to California Water has been completely redesigned and updated throughout for 2021, providing an excellent overview of the history of water development and its use in California today.

The 10th Edition of our popular guide to California water includes the latest information on the state’s changing hydrology, recent water conservation legislation, and a new section on the human right to and need for water, highlighting issues of water access and affordability that have drawn increasing attention in California.


Don’t Miss This Sweet Holiday Deal on a Beautiful Water Book
Get 35% off Water & the Shaping of California, the perfect holiday gift for anyone interested in water

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 $22.75 – a 35% 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.


2021 Water Leaders Class Releases Policy Recommendations for Achieving Water Equity In California

2021 Water Leaders ClassOur 2021 Water Leaders class completed its year with a report outlining policy recommendations for achieving water equity in California.

The class of 23 up-and-coming leaders from various water-related fields – engineers, attorneys, planners, environmentalists and scientists – had full editorial control to choose recommendations.

California Spent Decades Trying to Keep Central Valley Floods at Bay. Now It Looks to Welcome Them Back
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Floodplain restoration gets a policy and funding boost as interest grows in projects that bring multiple benefits to respond to climate change impacts

Land and waterway managers labored hard over the course of a century to control California’s unruly rivers by building dams and levees to slow and contain their water. Now, farmers, environmentalists and agencies are undoing some of that work as part of an accelerating campaign to restore the state’s major floodplains.


Apply for California’s Premier Water Leadership Program by Dec. 7
Deepen water knowledge, build leadership skills during program's 25th anniversary; ACWA fellowship available

Apply by Dec. 7 for our 2022 Water Leaders class and be part of the cohort that will mark the 25th anniversary of California’s pre-eminent water leadership program.

The Water Leaders class, which started in 1997, is aimed at providing a deeper understanding of California water issues and building leadership skills by working with a mentor, studying a water-related topic in-depth and crafting policy recommendations on that topic with your cohort.

The deadline to apply for the 2022 class is Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. Find the online application form and other required items for your application package here.


Support Water Education in California and the West Through Workplace Giving
Water Education Foundation participates in payroll deduction programs with federal, state and private employers

You can more easily support the important work done by the Water Education Foundation in California and across the West by making a tax-deductible gift via a one-time payroll deduction through your employer or a set amount per pay period.

The contributions through Workplace Giving programs support our nonprofit’s mission to inspire understanding of water and catalyze critical conversations to build bridges and inform collaborative decision-making.


Support Water Education in California Through Workplace Giving
Foundation is now part of federal, state and private programs allowing donations through payroll deductions

It’s workplace giving season, the time of year when anyone in the workplace can show their support for the organizations and causes they love.

All state, federal and private workplace giving programs are now open, allowing donations through payroll deductions.