The State of California, now in its fourth year of drought, continues to receive long-range forecasts of low precipitation and warmer-than-normal temperatures. Earlier this month, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order calling for cities and towns across the state to implement mandatory restrictions to reduce water for the first time in California’s history.

In an effort to provide information and discussion to the community it serves, the University of La Verne College of Law hosted  a day-long symposium Water: Crisis, Law and Culture on Friday, March 20. The event, organized by the La Verne Law Review, brought together legislators, water industry leaders, legal experts and academic specialists to discuss key issues and challenges involving the most valuable of natural resources.

Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (Calif., 32nd District) provided the opening introduction. Napolitano has been a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources since her first term in 1999. She is Ranking Member of the Water & Power Subcommittee, and is a longtime promoter of conservation, water recycling, desalination, and sound groundwater management and storage to address Southern California’s need for adequate water quality and supply.

Larry McKenney, Executive Counsel to the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA), gave the keynote address. McKenney has extensive knowledge and experience in water-related matters. His background includes watershed management, coastal preservation and environmental affairs. Along with being a representative of the Municipal Water District of Orange County on the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Board of Directors, he serves on numerous boards and is a member of the Southern California Water Dialogue Steering Committee and the California Water Policy Conference Planning Committee.

The symposium featured four panels – Impact of the Drought, Water Legislation, Contemporary Approaches to Water Allocation, and Private Use of Water Endowments. Panelists included Mónica Palomo (Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, Cal Poly Pomona), Jason Steele (La Verne Law student), Stacie Takeguchi (Professional Engineer, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California), Paul Wenger (President, California Farm Bureau Federation), Andrew Fahlund (Deputy Director, California Water Foundation), Adán Ortega Jr. (Co-Founder, Water Conservation Partners, Inc.), Sarah Foley (Associate, Best Best & Krieger LLP), Tim Barr (Water Use Efficiency Manager, Western Municipal Water District), Greg Devereaux (CEO, San Bernardino County), Mike Gatto (Assemblyman, California’s 43rd State Assembly District), Peter Reich (Professor of Law & Director of Environmental Law Concentration, Whittier Law School), Henry Barbosa (Attorney, Public Law, Law Office of Henry S. Barbosa), Eric Romero (Assistant Professor of History, Political Science, Language & Culture, New Mexico Highlands University), and Siera Taketchera Russell (Judge pro tem, Yavapai-Apache Nation).

The symposium can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3LMziR1-z8

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