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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.

New Lead Scientist Primed for Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta’s Challenges After a Lifetime Surrounded by Water
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Laurel Larsen stresses greater communication and inclusivity in a more nimble Delta science program

Delta Lead Scientist Laurel Larsen has spent her career studying the intricacies of wetlands environments, such as this marsh in southern Louisiana. In the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Larsen will face a challenging environment that has confounded water management for decades. It’s perhaps no surprise new Delta Lead Scientist Laurel Larsen finds herself in the thick of untangling the many mysteries surrounding the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem.

After all, Larsen grew up in Florida, where deep, marshy backwaters of the Everglades are reminiscent of the large tidal estuary that is California’s most crucial water and ecological resource. Larsen’s background stirred her interest early.


Registration is Now Open for Our Virtual Water 101 Workshop
Engaging Online Event Scheduled for the Afternoons of April 22-23

Registration is now open for one of our most popular events, the Water 101 Workshop, to be held this year virtually on the afternoons of April 22-23.

The annual workshop serves as a refresher for more veteran water professionals and a good statewide primer for others. Participants will come away with a deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural resource.


Stay in the Know with Water News & Tap Into Special News Feed for COVID-19 and Equity Issues
News feed part of daily Aquafornia aggregation that keeps you updated on water issues in California and the West

Our daily news aggregation known as Aquafornia keeps you up-to-date on the most pressing water issues in California and across the West.

Curated by veteran journalist Alastair Bland and managed by the Foundation’s news and publications director Doug Beeman, Aquafornia gives you the latest articles on groundwater, Delta issues, the Colorado River and more through an easy-to-scan headline format.


2021 Water Leaders Class Evaluates California’s Efforts to Achieve Water Equity
Rising stars in the water world chosen for highly competitive leadership program

Twenty-three early to mid-career water professionals from across California have been chosen for the 2021 William R. Gianelli Water Leaders Class, the Water Education Foundation’s highly competitive and respected career development program.

The Water Leaders class 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 2021 class can be found here


Save the Date for Our Virtual Water 101 Workshop in April
Deepen Your Understanding of California Water with Leading Experts During our Online Event

Curious about water rights in California? Want to know more about how water is managed in the state, or learn about the State Water Project, Central Valley Project or other water infrastructure? 

Mark your calendars now for our virtual Water 101 Workshop for the afternoons of April 22-23 to hear from experts on these topics and more. Registration is coming soon! 

California water map

Your Source for Water News & Information in California & the West
Our news & publications team keeps you informed every day, every month with articles, maps and educational guides

Despite the ongoing pandemic, the Water Education Foundation team continues to churn out water news, maps that provide visual context to key water topics and guides that help deepen your understanding of California’s most precious natural resource.

In the Heart of the San Joaquin Valley, Two Groundwater Sustainability Agencies Try to Find Their Balance
WESTERN WATER SPECIAL REPORT: Agencies in Fresno, Tulare counties pursue different approaches to address overdraft and meet requirements of California’s groundwater law

Flooding permanent crops seasonally, such as this vineyard at Terranova Ranch in Fresno County, is one innovative strategy to recharge aquifers.Across a sprawling corner of southern Tulare County snug against the Sierra Nevada, a bounty of navel oranges, grapes, pistachios, hay and other crops sprout from the loam and clay of the San Joaquin Valley. Groundwater helps keep these orchards, vineyards and fields vibrant and supports a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy across the valley. But that bounty has come at a price. Overpumping of groundwater has depleted aquifers, dried up household wells and degraded ecosystems.

Western Water

Executive Editors Note: Special Groundwater Project Marks Three Years of Online Magazine

It’s been three years since we took Western Water magazine online to make topical issues regarding our most vital resource in California and the West accessible to more people.

Since 1977, the magazine has been a trusted resource, and our journalism team works hard to not break that trust.

Our latest offering is a special report on groundwater because it’s so vital to California as a drinking water source and to grow our crops.


2020 Water Leaders Class Releases Policy Recommendations for Adapting California Water Management to Climate Change
Class members to discuss topic at next month's Urban Water Institute Conference

Our 2020 Water Leaders class completed its year with a report outlining policy recommendations for adapting California water management to climate change.

The class of 23 up-and-coming leaders from various stakeholder groups and backgrounds – engineers, attorneys, planners, farmers, environmentalists and scientists - had full editorial control to choose recommendations.


Foundation Resources Help You Understand Groundwater’s Vital Role in California
Special project on SGMA publishing soon in Western Water; Groundwater map and layperson’s guide among array of educational materials

In any given year, whether it’s a wet winter or a dry one, groundwater is a critical source of water for California, providing 40 percent to 60 percent of the state’s supply. Some areas of the state are entirely dependent on groundwater. 

To help you learn more about the importance of groundwater, the Water Education Foundation has an array of educational materials on this vital resource. And next week, the Foundation’s flagship publication, Western Water news, will publish a special report examining how two local groundwater agencies are taking different approaches to achieve sustainability in the San Joaquin Valley, one of the most critically overdrafted regions in the state. You can sign up here to be alerted when this special report is published. 


Ringing in a Year of Hope with the Water Education Foundation
Learn how the Foundation is approaching 2021 and what events will be offered in Executive Director's letter

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 2020, especially as we pivoted our in-person programming to virtual platforms.

As we turn the page to 2021, we’re looking ahead to a year of hope that COVID-19 will no longer be a major threat to our health and well-being.

But, with the pandemic in mind, our team is planning a hybrid year starting with virtual water educational experiences and, if deemed safe by health officials, a return to in-person events in the second half of 2021.

Western Water By Douglas E. Beeman

Drought, Climate Change and Groundwater Sustainability — Western Water Year in Review
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Our 2020 articles spanned the gamut from climate resilience and groundwater sustainability to ecosystem change and Colorado River science

Accelerating climate change impacts in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, including the spread of invasive plants like the water hyacinth pictured in this Delta channel, are fueling worries about the ability of scientists to keep up.The ability of science to improve water management decisions and keep up with the accelerating pace of climate change. The impact to precious water resources from persistent drought in the Colorado River Basin. Building resilience and sustainability across California. And finding hope at the Salton Sea.

These were among the issues Western Water explored in 2020. In case you missed them, they are still worth taking a look at.

Western Water By Gary Pitzer

Milestone Colorado River Management Plan Mostly Worked Amid Epic Drought, Review Finds
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Draft assessment of 2007 Interim Guidelines expected to provide a guide as talks begin on new river operating rules for the iconic Southwestern river

At full pool, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States by volume. but two decades of drought have dramatically dropped the water level behind Hoover Dam.Twenty years ago, the Colorado River Basin’s hydrology began tumbling into a historically bad stretch. The weather turned persistently dry. Water levels in the system’s anchor reservoirs of Lake Powell and Lake Mead plummeted. A river system relied upon by nearly 40 million people, farms and ecosystems across the West was in trouble. And there was no guide on how to respond.


Persevering in a Year of Change and Challenges
A letter of thanks from the Water Education Foundation's Executive Director

As we wind down to Thanksgiving and look back on this challenging year, feelings of gratitude well up. 

We are grateful most of all for the health of our team at the Water Education Foundation. And we are especially grateful for those who supported us along the way, allowing our talented team to pivot in-person educational opportunities about California’s most precious natural resource into virtual experiences.

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map By Gary Pitzer

A Colorado River Leader Who Brokered Key Pacts to Aid West’s Vital Water Artery Assesses His Legacy and the River’s Future
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Terry Fulp, regional Reclamation director, urges continued collaboration and cooperation to meet the river's tough water management challenges ahead

Terry FulpManaging water resources in the Colorado River Basin is not for the timid or those unaccustomed to big challenges. Careers are devoted to responding to all the demands put upon the river: water supply, hydropower, recreation and environmental protection.

All of this while the Basin endures a seemingly endless drought and forecasts of increasing dryness in the future.


Last Chance to Reserve Your Spot on a Virtual Journey into California’s Water Hub
Sign up for the next Tuesday's Bay-Delta Tour; all virtual journeys this fall include overview presentations, exclusive video tour screenings and live Q&A with experts

The Delta map at Big Break Regional ShorelineIf you missed last month’s sold-out Bay-Delta Tour, you can join us next Tuesday, Nov. 10 for an encore presentation that will include a video tour and a live Q&A with key experts on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the state’s vital water hub and the West Coast’s largest freshwater tidal estuary.

You’ll learn about Delta ecosystem restoration, impacts to ocean fisheries from changes in the Delta, agriculture and municipal water use and the Delta’s role in supplying water to Southern California. You’ll hear from farmers, fish biologists, water managers, people working on restoration efforts, and more! Get tickets here!


Join Q&A Session for 2021 Water Leaders Class & Applications
Learn more about the program and get tips on applying during Nov. 17 online event

A group photo with the 2019 Water Leaders on our Lower Colorado River tour.One of our most popular programs, the Water Leaders class 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. 

Are you considering apply for the 2021 class or supporting a candidate? Join us at 3 p.m. on Nov. 17 for a 30-minute Q&A session with Foundation Executive Director Jenn Bowles, who will offer details on the program and tips on completing an application.

Register here for the Zoom Q&A session!


Visit Oroville and Shasta Dams, Rice Farms, Wetlands and More During a Virtual Journey through Northern California
Spend an afternoon touring the region virtually and participating in a live Q&A with experts

Reconstructed Oroville SpillwaySign up for next week’s Nov. 12 virtual Northern California Tour, which will take you through a region key to water supply for much of the state.

During the three-hour online event, you’ll get up close to Oroville Dam and learn how its two spillways were repaired following a catastrophic 2017 storm. You’ll also visit rice farms and wetlands in the Sacramento Valley, and hear from farmers and environmentalists about efforts to restore runs of endangered chinook salmon and help birds along the Pacific Flyway. You’ll also visit Shasta Dam and the area being eyed for the proposed Sites Reservoir. Get your ticket for the “bus” here


Immerse Yourself in California’s Key Water Sources During Upcoming Virtual Journeys
Get your ticket for our Bay-Delta Tour Encore and/or Northern California Tour

Tickets are going fast for our three-hour virtual journeys into key California water sources.

Registration is open for our:

Bay-Delta Tour: Nov. 10

Aerial view of Sacramento-San Joaquin DeltaIf you missed our October Bay-Delta Tour, you can join us Nov. 10 for an encore. This tour traverses the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals that serves as California’s most crucial water and ecological resource. Hear from farmers, fish biologists, people working on restoration efforts and more!

Northern California Tour: Nov. 12

Aerial view of Shasta Dam and Lake Shasta.Explore the  Sacramento River and its tributaries and gain a deeper understanding of the issues associated with a key source of the state’s water supply. Visit Oroville and Shasta dams, rice fields and wildlife refuges, and hear from farmers, biologists and water managers.

Each virtual tour event will include:

  • An overview presentation of the region’s critical topics
  • A guided video tour of key locations — farms, wetlands, dams and reservoirs, wildlife habitats — to gain a stronger understanding on a variety of water supply issues and the latest policy developments
  • Live Q&A with experts featured in the video so attendees can dive deeper into the topics

As part of each event, participants will receive one of our popular Layperson’s Guides and be entered into a drawing to win one of our beautiful water maps.

Attendees should make sure they download the latest version of Zoom before the event.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to the Delta By Gary Pitzer

Is Ecosystem Change in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Outpacing the Ability of Science to Keep Up?
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Science panel argues for a new approach to make research nimbler and more forward-looking to improve management in the ailing Delta

Floating vegetation such as water hyacinth has expanded in the Delta in recent years, choking waterways like the one in the bottom of this photo.Radically transformed from its ancient origin as a vast tidal-influenced freshwater marsh, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem is in constant flux, influenced by factors within the estuary itself and the massive watersheds that drain though it into the Pacific Ocean.

Lately, however, scientists say the rate of change has kicked into overdrive, fueled in part by climate change, and is limiting the ability of science and Delta water managers to keep up. The rapid pace of upheaval demands a new way of conducting science and managing water in the troubled estuary.