State of California Water Rights Act 2012

Wednesday, October 16, 2013
6:00 – 8:00 PM

Fresno Convention Center, 2nd Floor
848 M St, Fresno, CA 93721

This event was part of a series of free public Latino USA events on health in California.

Radio Bilingue
Streamed throughout California and the Southwest on Radio Bilingüe

Listen to this powerful panel discussion and Q&A:


Who is responsible for the water that comes out of your tap? In California, thousands of people in dozens of communities have contaminated water with the potential to cause cancer, birth defects, and multiple health problems. The water is known to be unsafe to drink, yet families still pay for it—and often the cost is a significant portion of their income. These families then must drive miles to purchase bottled water to drink, and still must use the contaminated water for household purposes like bathing and washing dishes.

Last year, California signed legislation making access to water a human right—one of the only states in the nation to do so. Federal and state sources have dedicated billions of dollars to study the problems, build water treatment plants (although in small towns like Lanare, treatment plants close if they cost too much to operate), and explore the feasibility of local and regional solutions. Yet despite this funding, widespread problems of contaminated water continue in these communities. In Lanare, contamination is caused by naturally-occurring arsenic which leaches into well water. Lanare is a small, unincorporated town with a tiny population, and although its residents organized to address this problem, clean water is still out of their reach—despite potentially successful solutions.

Lanare is not alone-many small towns and communities have similar situations with contaminated water. It is often caused by California’s thriving agricultural industry. The Central Valley is the nation’s most productive farm belt and agriculture is the regional economic driver. This problem does not only affect homes, but community centers, public buildings, and schools – every time a young student takes a sip at the drinking fountain, there is the potential for exposure. So how can California towns solve this problem? Can better technology like water filtration systems solve problems of contamination? Or is it something that is only fixable by the government? Current legislation in the California Senate is designed to address this deeply entrenched problem by switching the administration of water from one government body to another—but, will this be effective? As a large number of the affected families are low-income and Latino, does the solution lie in community empowerment and development? Who is responsible to protect these families and provide them with safe, clean water? How will California realize the promises inherent in its promising 2012 Water Rights Act?

Join us for a public town hall on water and development, hosted by award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa, who has reported extensively on issues affecting Latino communities. Lanare and Beyond: A Town Hall on Water will shed light on the human impact of widespread water contamination, explore the short-term and permanent solutions, and engage residents, legislators, and other stakeholders in the Central Valley in a conversation about the right to clean water.

Event will be streamed live on Radio Bilingüe.


Dr. John CapitmanDr. John Capitman
Executive Director, Central Valley Health Policy Institute, California State University, Fresno

Dr. John Capitman brings an extensive background in research and is nationally renowned for his work in health disparities, long-term care, substance abuse and racial and ethnic disparities in cancer care. He was formerly a professor and director of long-term care studies in the Schneider Institute for Health Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Capitman has conducted research on increasing the participation of elders in health and long-term care decisions, supporting informal caregivers for persons with disabilities, and limiting sales of alcohol and tobacco products to minors. He has taught and wrote about how social location influences health and the use of health services. He has published extensively in the areas of: financing, organization, and delivery of community long-term care. Capitman has had more than 20 years of experience in health policy research and analysis, including appointments at the Virginia Center on Aging, California Department of Health Services, Medical College of Virginia/ Virginia Commonwealth University and Brandeis University. He is currently working closely with university resources to develop a new option for graduate study in Health Policy and Administration in the existing Master of Public Health Program at California State University , Fresno. He will lead a health policy leadership program at Fresno State that will engage leaders from throughout the region in exploring opportunities to address regional health problems.

Susana De AndaSusana De Anda
Co-Executive Director & Co-Founder, Community Water Center

Susana is the Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Community Water Center, a non-profit organization based in Visalia, California, that works to ensure that all communities can have access to safe, clean and affordable drinking water. Susana is CWC’s seasoned community organizer who was recognized as one of twenty-one top young women leaders in the country by the Third Wave Foundation and has received numerous awards including the 2009 Petra Foundation Fellowship and in 2010 co-awarded the Carla Bard Advocacy Award from the Public Officials for Water and Environmental Reform (POWER), awarded to one water advocate in California each year. In addition to most recently highlighted as one of the “150 Fearless Women in the World” by Newsweek Magazine (2012) and as one of the “Women on Top” by Marie Claire magazine (2012). Susana currently sits on the Tulare County Water Commission and on the United Way of Tulare County Board of Directors. Susana earned a B.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara while completing a double major in Environmental Studies and Geography.

Veronica Garibay
Co-Founder and Co-Director, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability

Based in the agriculturally rich San Joaquin and East Coachella Valleys Leadership Counsel works alongside the most impacted communities to advocate for sound policy and eradicate injustice to secure equal access to opportunity regardless of wealth, race, income, and place. Areas of focus include land use, funding and financing schemes, natural resources, environmental justice, municipal services, civil rights and government transparency. Prior to launching Leadership Counsel, Veronica led the California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA)’s advocacy efforts in the San Joaquin Valley to ensure equitable land use planning in rural communities, access to basic services such as safe and affordable drinking water and waste water service, and access to public transit. Her work has focused on developing and maintaining meaningful community engagement in land use and investment decisions at the state, regional and local levels. Veronica immigrated from Michoacan, Mexico at a young age along with her parents and four siblings to the City of Parlier in Fresno County. She grew up in this small farmworker town and graduated from Parlier Unified District Schools. As a first generation student, Veronica attended the University of California at Santa Barbara where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Law and Society in 2008. Upon graduation, Veronica joined the CRLA’s Community Equity Initiative (CEI) as the programs first Community Worker. While at CRLA Veronica earned a Master of Public Administration from Fresno State.

Henry T. PereaAssemblymember Henry T. Perea
31st District, California State Assembly

Henry T. Perea represents the 31st District in the California State Assembly, which includes the Central Valley communities of Caruthers, Coalinga, Firebaugh, Fowler, Huron, Kingsburg, Kerman, Laton, Lanare, Mendota, Orange Cove, Parlier, Riverdale, Reedley, Sanger, San Joaquin, Selma and the city of Fresno. He was elected to California State Assembly in November 2010 and is currently serving his second term in the legislature. Assemblymember Perea is a tireless advocate for working families and has authored several bills to improve the lives of people living in underserved areas of our state, including many pieces of legislation aimed at bringing clean drinking water to rural communities in California. As a co-founder of the Latino Water Coalition, Assemblymember Perea is working to find an equitable solution to the water problems facing California that will benefit the Central Valley. Perea was elected to the Fresno City Council in November 2002 at the Age of 25, becoming the youngest person ever elected to this position. He was re-elected to serve a second term in 2006, and served as the council president in 2007. He began his career in public service with an internship in the Washington, DC office of Congressman Cal Dooley, moving up to district representative working on defense spending, economic development, Latino outreach and helping both municipalities and non-profits secure federal funding. Perea continued his career in public service working with the Fresno Council President, contributing to the process of securing the city’s federally designated empowerment zone.

IsabelPhotoIsabel Solorio
President, Community United In Lanare

Isabel Solorio is the President of Community United in Lanare. Isabel immigrated from Mexico to the United States in search of the American dream and to seek a better future. After years of hard work in farm labor, Isabel and her husband Gerardo Solorio purchased their first home in Lanare in the early 1990s. They are dedicated community members who actively work to improve conditions in their community and help build Lanare into a healthy and vibrant community.

Isabel and her neighbors founded Community United in Lanare, with a mission of improving the quality of life in Lanare by advocating at local and state levels for basic services provided in other communities, such as access to safe drinking water, a public wastewater system, and investment in the community for land use planning, housing, complete streets, and lighting. They created and maintain the Lanare Community Center and manage a park, and they host regular dinner-dance fundraisers to pay for the operation and maintenance of the park and Community Center. Community United in Lanare works In partnership with Leadership Counsel on their advocacy initiatives, and also partners with the Fresno Community Food Bank to coordinate monthly food distributions that feed over 250 families at the community center. 



Maria HinojosaMaria Hinojosa
CEO & President, The Futuro Media Group

Maria Hinojosa is an award-winning news anchor and reporter for PBS and NPR, who covers America’s untold stories and highlights today’s critical issues. As the anchor and executive producer of long-running weekly NPR show Latino USA, and anchor for PBS’ NEED TO KNOW series and the talk show Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One from WGBH/La Plaza, she has informed millions about the changing cultural and political landscape in America and abroad. In her over 25 years as a journalist, she also worked for CNN, and was a senior correspondent at NOW on PBS. In April 2010, Hinojosa created The Futuro Media Group, a multi-platform nonprofit production company based in Harlem with the mission to give critical voice to the social and civic justice issues facing the diverse new America. Hinojosa has reported hundreds of important stories—from the immigrant work camps in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, to teen girl victims of sexual harassment on the job, to stories of the poor in Alabama. She has received numerous awards for her work including: four Emmys; the 2012 John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism; Robert F. Kennedy Award for Reporting on the Disadvantaged; the Studs Terkel Community Media Award; the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Overseas Press Club for best documentary for her groundbreaking “Child Brides: Stolen Lives”; and many more. She was born in Mexico City, raised in Chicago, and received her BA from Barnard College. She lives with her husband, artist German Perez, and their son and daughter in Harlem. Learn more

LISTEN to the related radio story which ran on Latino USA:
Most people take clean drinking water for granted, but in the rural town of Lanare, California, the residents are fighting for it. Alice Daniel reports about this community’s ongoing struggle for one of life’s most basic resources.



The California Endowment