FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 15, 2016
Central Valley Leader Receives White House Climate Equity Award for Drought Advocacy
Visalia, CA – Community Water Center Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director Susana De Anda is being recognized by the White House as one of ten “White House Champions of Change for Climate Equity” today. De Anda has dedicated the past decade to ensuring that every Californian has access to safe, clean, and affordable drinking water.
During California’s drought, De Anda has been working alongside the rural, low-income communities and communities of color that have been hit hardest by dry wells and increasingly contaminated drinking water supplies.
“The drought has laid bare the extreme climate vulnerability of rural, low-income communities in the San Joaquin Valley,” De Anda said. “At the Community Water Center, we’re working to ensure these residents are at the decision-making table so their communities can emerge from this drought more resilient to climate change.”
Each year, over one million Californians are exposed to unsafe drinking water from the taps in their homes, schools, and communities, and the drought has only worsened the drinking water challenges facing small communities. Over 1,900 Central Valley homes currently have dry wells, and more homes will run out of water as the drought continues. The Community Water Center is working collaboratively to ensure drought-impacted residents receive not only the emergency assistance they need in the short-term, but also lasting solutions that will leave them more resilient to future droughts.
“I’m thrilled that Susana De Anda has received the White House Champion of Change Award in recognition of her leadership and tireless efforts to advance drinking water solutions for all Californians,” said Felicia Marcus, Chair of the California State Water Resources Control Board. “She has already made an incredible difference for thousands of Californians, and I am sure she will leverage this award to continue advocating for funding, policies, and legislation necessary to get desperately needed drinking water to low-income communities."
In addition to increased public health risks, the lack of safe water prevents economic development and increases communities’ vulnerability to climate change. Many rural communities rely on a single source for their water, most often groundwater, which makes them especially vulnerable to drought and other water supply challenges, as well as changes in water quality. In drought years, an entire community can quickly go from having safe drinking water to not having access to safe water or not having water at all.
“Our communities are experiencing the impacts of climate change right now,” De Anda said. “With climate change expected to cause more frequent and intense droughts, lawmakers need to create a sustainable funding source to address California communities’ long-term drinking water needs, including water system operation and maintenance costs. Securing a reliable water supply is crucial to advancing climate equity and ensuring that the frontline communities right here in California that are most vulnerable to this global climate crisis have a sustainable future.”
De Anda’s leadership helped result in enactment of the nation’s first statewide Human Right to Water legislation. For her empowerment of rural residents seeking to advocate for drinking water solutions, De Anda has also been honored as a top activist by Marie Claire magazine and Newsweek Magazine. She will receive the Champion of Change award at the White House today, and the event will be live-streamed at https://www.whitehouse.gov/live at 11:30 AM PT.
Community Water Center (CWC) is a non-profit environmental justice organization based in California’s San Joaquin Valley, whose mission is to act as a catalyst for community-driven water solutions through organizing, education, and advocacy. CWC’s fundamental goal is to ensure that all communities have access to safe, clean, and affordable water. CWC helps build strategic grassroots capacity to address water challenges in small, rural, low-income communities and communities of color. For more information, visit CWC’s website at www.communitywatercenter.org.