Organizing for Clean Water in the Central Valley - Women's Foundation California
Susana De Anda of Community Water Center
Susanda De Anda, Community Water Center presents during Sowing Change 2009.

The Women’s Foundation of California has long been concerned about the quality of water in our state. Hundreds of thousands of people in the San Joaquin Valley are served water contaminated by bacteria, nitrates, arsenic and disinfectant byproducts. The causes of the contaminants are various, ranging from byproducts of dairy farms to heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides by agriculture.

In line with our commitment to ensuring the quality of water in our state, the Foundation was one of the first funders of the Community Water Center (CWC). Founded by Laurel Firestone and Susana De Anda, CWC has been organizing for clean water for the Central Valley since 2004. Thanks to CWC’s work, the Regional Water Board of the Central Valley is proposing groundwater requirements for irrigated agriculture – for the first time ever! (You can support the proposed requirements by visiting CWC’s website).

But CWC is doing more than taking the fight for clean water to community water boards.

Laurel Firestone Community Water Center
Laurel Firestone, Community Water Center, educating participants of Sowing Change 2009.

They are also training and educating the next generation of advocates. Youth for A.G.U.A. recently went on an eight-day statewide water tour. Joined by UCLA students and members of the tribal youth group Winnemem Wintu from Northern California, Youth for A.G.U.A. focused on political and spiritual connections to water through visits to the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta and Central Valley.

CWC will join the Foundation’s Sowing Change Tour again this year, to educate and inform tour participants on the importance of fighting for clean water in the Central Valley. Learn more about the tour.

Quick Facts:

American Rivers, a Washington DC conservation group, recently ranked California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta as No. 2 on a list of most endangered rivers in the US.

Jeff Mount, geographer and author, notes that the delta is the “hub of the state’s water infrastructure: 26 million people get water from it, three million acres are irrigated by it.”

*Photos by Nader Khouri


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