On June 27, the San Diego County Water Authority kicked off its first Citizens Water Academy since 2020, when COVID-19 forced a shutdown of the program. The academy offers attendees the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the Water Authority’s life-sustaining mission.
Participants learn firsthand about critical water issues affecting the region and go behind the scenes with water planners, managers, and engineers for an inside look at the water delivery system.
Building leaders in water
The Water Academy is geared toward civic and business leaders. This year’s class was held in three sessions starting on June 27 with a welcome and Water Authority overview by Acting General Manager Dan Denham.
Session two took place on July 12 with dinner and presentations about “Planning for a Water Resilient Future” with Jeff Stephenson, acting director of the Water Resources Department. A final session took place on July 15, and included presentations by Operations and Maintenance Department leaders, tours of the regional water delivery control room and emergency operations center, a tour of Olivenhain Dam, and a graduation ceremony.
Class participants come from a wide range of backgrounds and professions. They include elected official representatives, retail water agency staff, Water Authority board members, and civic and business leaders from across the region.
“Despite our lack of natural resources, it’s easy to take our safe, reliable supply of water for granted,” said Acting General Manager Dan Denham. “We turn on the faucet and there’s the water, ready to be transformed into our morning cup of coffee. But how that water gets from point A to point B is an astounding work of engineering and strategic planning. The Water Academy is all about connecting our community to this intricate world.”
The Citizens Water Academy launched in fall 2014. Over the years, 99% of participants said they would recommend the Water Academy to a colleague, and nearly 50% of graduates engaged in the Water Authority’s alumni network.
The Water Authority was honored with the Silver Bernays Mark of Excellence Award for the Citizens Water Academy from the San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America in 2015. The program also won the Communications Initiative Award from the San Diego Section of the American Planning Association in 2016.
Water Authority staff are excited to bring this important program back to the community after a three-year pause due to the pandemic and look forward to hosting additional classes in the future. Information about future class dates will be posted here. The webpage also includes an interest form and nomination form for future Water Academy classes.