By Bryan Medina
One mother described carrying her child over flooded streets so their clothes wouldn’t get wet before school. Another worried that the chemicals and trash that linger in that same floodwater could contaminate their tap.
Many others found that they had similar concerns — and they all agreed to work to do something about it.
The Pacoima residents — along with about 20 others — had gathered in an online Zoom meeting for a WaterTalk held by TreePeople. The group gathered to discuss water-related issues in their community and to learn how to be better advocates for their community.
There are many things that trees and people have in common but one of the most important things that connect us is this precious resource: water. In the face of drought and climate change, equitable water management is what helps ensure our communities are able to build resiliency to the environmental challenges of the future.
The county-wide WaterTalks program, funded by the California Department of Water Resources through Proposition 1, aims to ensure that regional water resource management considers the health, safety, welfare, and resiliency of these communities.
Once a meeting is held, participants are invited to listening sessions and fill out surveys about needs and challenges in their community that could be addressed via water infrastructure projects. All of this helps to inform the creation and implementation of said projects.
In the Pacoima meeting, community members voiced their concerns about flooding, particularly around local schools, and urban contamination of stormwater runoff. Residents were also informed on how to find water quality reports, the cost of tap water compared to bottled, and ways to transform landscapes into water capture areas.
When community members have equitable access to voice their concerns about water management and conservation practices, they hold the key to make sustainable solutions that benefit their cities and neighborhoods.
TreePeople continues to work with community partners across LA County to host more WaterTalks and inspire residents to get involved in regional and state water projects in their neighborhoods, ensuring that their community’s health and safety are always considered and respected.
Community Engagement: A series of 50 community meetings and events across LA County are held for residents to raise questions and concerns about their water-related issues, provide crucial input regarding their community’s water needs, possible solutions, and to learn about the State’s most current water-related topics. These include drinking water, conservation, flood management, drainage, vector control, access to parks and recreation, and the overall health of our watersheds.
Data Gathering: Listening sessions and surveys to identify pressing needs and challenges that could be addressed through water infrastructure projects.
Project Implementation: The development and execution of projects to address identified needs.