This tour ventured through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.
This 3-day, 2-night tour focused on the San Joaquin Valley, the southern part of the vast region, which is facing challenges after years of drought, dwindling water supplies, decreasing water quality and farmland conversion for urban growth. Led by Foundation staff and Thomas Harter, Chair for Water Resources Management and Policy at the University of California, Davis, the tour gave participants an understanding of the region’s water use and issues as well as the agricultural practices, including new technologies and water-saving measures.
Participants visited farms and some of the state’s major infrastructure, such as Friant Dam and the San Luis Reservoir, as well as the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, a major wintering ground and migratory stopover point for large concentrations of waterfowl and shorebirds. The tour began and ended at the Foundation’s office in Sacramento.
“It was very impactful to see the variety of perspectives at the ground level. Reading about issues can seem almost fictional. Seeing the reservoirs and farms with my own eyes truly deepened my understanding of San Joaquin Valley.”
“This was a fantastic tour. In three days, I had the opportunity to meet numerous experts in the field. It was a nice blend of speakers.”
“The tour was extremely organized. The information/material, speakers, and opinions were well rounded and I enjoyed engaging with farmers and other industry leaders who are on the frontlines of California water.”
The tour started at 7:30 a.m. on April 26 and ended at 6:30 p.m. on April 28 at the Water Education Foundation office, 2151 River Plaza Drive, Suite 205, Sacramento, CA. Free parking was available.
The tour included overnight stays in Coalinga and Visalia which were arranged by the Foundation and covered by the registration fee.
The Courtyard Sacramento Airport Natomas is next door to the Water Education Foundation and also offers a shuttle to/from Sacramento International Airport (SMF). We have a discounted room rate arranged there and self-pay booking options were provided upon registration for the tour.
An alternative departure point from the tour on Friday afternoon in the Turlock area was also available.
General – $959 (one person, single-occupancy room)
Fee included all tour meals, transportation, materials, snacks and hotel accommodations once the tour began Wednesday. Meals covered by the registration fee included lunch on Wednesday through lunch on Friday. Participants were responsible for their own transportation to and from the tour’s beginning and end point.
A limited amount of scholarship funding was available to pay for a portion of the tour. Scholarships were awarded based on a few factors, including:
The Foundation continues to monitor developments with COVID-19. Precautions were implemented during the tour including enhanced sanitation protocols and an itinerary that maximized use of outdoor/open-air spaces when feasible.
Despite these mitigating circumstances, an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any place where people gather. All participants considered their personal choices around harm reduction and risk tolerance in the face of current variants and the likelihood of additional variants emerging in the future.
Acceptance of an assumption of risk waiver was required during registration for the tour.
We asked participants not to attend if, within 72 hours of the tour start date, they had experienced symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., a fever of 100.4F or higher, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking muscle pain/achiness, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, nasal congestion, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue or any other symptoms associated with COVID-19 identified by the CDC).
If a participant tested positive or was exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 within 5 days of the tour start date, they were required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of the tour start date regardless of their vaccination status.
Deadline to cancel and receive a refund was three weeks prior to the first day of the tour due to hotel, meal and transportation commitments. Substitutions were allowed up to five business days before the tour. Eventbrite fees were nonrefundable and the remaining amount may have been subject to an additional 10% processing fee.
We recognize that unexpected conflicts with our tours can occur from time to time. The Water Education Foundation recommended participants consider arranging travel insurance from a provider of their choice soon after tour registration to protect against such unfortunate events.
MCLE credits were available only for California attorneys for an additional fee, and may have been available for water plant/wastewater plant operators and other vocations/professions.