Celebrating 15 Years of Swimmable, Fishable, Drinkable Water in California

garry wokner

Every few years a magical thing happens in the Waterkeeper world. California Waterkeeper organizations gather to share ideas, knowledge, challenges, and goals. This year was especially a treat since Keepers and staff all the way from the northern Klamath and Russian Rivers to the San Diego Bay came together to celebrate 15 years of the mighty California Coastkeeper Alliance.

Over the course of just a few days, workshops and sessions took place covering topics like coastal protection, Marine Protected Areas, trash policies, and pollution from industrial sites. Water quality monitoring staff shared monitoring program objectives, techniques and strategies. In a session on Marine Protected Areas, it was inspiring to hear the success stories and efforts of Santa Barbara Channelkeeper in bringing local businesses onboard with Marine Protected Areas by promoting ecotourism and economic sustainability. The coastal protection and marine water quality discussions were paired perfectly with a field trip to one of Santa Barbara’s remote and most beautiful MPA’s at Naples Beach.

The hottest topics of the retreat were definitely the drought and the California Water Bond. Proposition One was discussed, and even debated at length, by guest speakers from NRDC and Conner Everts from Environmental Water Caucus. Other retreat experts and guests included Bob Wilkinson from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, Amanda Cravens from Stanford (who lead a negotiations training), and Jonathan Bishop of the State Water Resource Control Board. It was truly a meeting of Waterwonks.

The best part was getting to meet, face-to-face, the dedicated people passionately working to protect California’s rivers and coastal waters. I feel grateful and indebted to those people, and fortunate to spend time among their ranks. Ultimately the whole experience was like a tall glass of water on a hot day… refreshing and sustaining. We laughed, we learned, and we inspired each other.

-Lara Meeker, Watershed Program Manager

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