Host Partner: Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board
Partner Location: Los Angeles, CA
Openings: 1 of 1
Project Focus: Climate Mitigation and/or Adaptation| Water Management and/or Policy
Desired Skills: Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, Teamwork
Remote or On-Site Preference: Remote OK
The Los Angeles Water Board is a State of California regulatory agency with the responsibility to implement California law and executive orders on climate change, including the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 and California Executive Order B-30-15, which direct the state to continue its rigorous climate change research program and direct State agencies to integrate climate change into all planning. This project will address both resilience of wastewater treatment facilities throughout our region and improved access to the Board’s decision-making for underserved communities.
The Los Angeles Water Board is tasked with preserving, enhancing, and restoring the quality of California’s water resources and drinking water and ensuring proper water resource allocation and efficient use, for the benefit of present and future generations. The predicted alterations to temperatures and precipitation due to climate change will significantly affect water resources and water quality in our region, and in turn affect ecological habitats, and recreational uses of water. Moreover, in addition to environmental concerns, climate change poses major human rights, public health, and social equity issues, as communities that are socially or economically disadvantaged are especially vulnerable to climate change impacts. Efforts to address climate change have been pursued on an ongoing basis by the Los Angeles Water Board, however, a Fellow will help keep the momentum as the Los Angeles Water Board continues to implement actions to build resilience in our communities and our environment. The Fellow will work internally and externally.
The internal goal of the project is to work across the various programs of the agency implementing an internal climate change group and assisting staff in developing an annotated outline for climate change vulnerability assessments and mitigation plans for facilities regulated by our agency. The external goal is to increase the participation of underserved communities in our programs and decision-making by reaching out to communities that will be most affected by climate change. Although some of the suggested measures have been implemented (such as the requirement in Board-issued permits that dischargers submit a climate change vulnerability assessment and mitigation plan), more work needs to be done to identify specific short- and long-term actions that will be implemented by the agency. The Fellow will help support the Board through the next planning phase of our efforts with the following two projects.
Internal Climate Change Group
To efficiently carry out efforts to address climate change across the agency’s various programs, the Fellow will help form an internal climate change group of staff spanning the agency. The fellow will coordinate and facilitate the group’s meetings, report on the discussions, and produce a report categorizing short and long-term programmatic priorities identified as an outgrowth of those meetings. The tasks of the group will include:
- Sharing current efforts applied within our various programs
- Identifying priority needs and strategies to implement them
- Considering actions to align with and advance the California Water Resilience Portfolio
- Sharing information about stakeholders’ efforts, the latest available science and resources
- Discussing coordination with other agencies
- Considering training needs
In addition to those tasks, the Fellow will, in consultation with agency staff, review climate change vulnerability assessments and mitigation plans submitted to the agency and produce an annotated outline to be used for future submissions. This standardized format will help guide permittees in the creation of their reports and ensure that all climate change impacts are properly addressed in the assessments and mitigation plans.
In addition to environmental concerns, climate change poses human rights, public health, and social equity issues. Socially or economically disadvantaged communities are especially impacted, due, for example, to limited access to clean and affordable water; lack of proper infrastructure to deal with extreme weather events and the economic resources necessary to prepare and respond to these events; proximity of environmental hazards; or lack of shade cover that heightens the risk of the urban heat island effect. In addition, beach erosion will affect disadvantaged communities for which public beaches are the most significant form of coastal access and recreation.
To ensure that racial equity and environmental justice issues are properly considered in the Board’s efforts to address climate change, the Fellow will be tasked to engage with local communities.
- Attend community meetings, especially focusing on disadvantaged communities and will reach
- Connect with environmental justice groups and educate them the Water Board’s initiatives
- Seek to understand the communities’ needs, and seek their input on how they think the agency can better serve them.
The Fellow will document the meetings and discussions, and produce a report outlining the steps the Board should further take to strengthen our engagement and provide communities a better access to the agency’s decision-making process. In addition, the report should include a list of specific stakeholders’ groups the agency should build stronger relationships with moving forward.
SERVICE PLANS AND NEEDS
The ideal candidate will have strong written and oral communication skills as they will be facilitating meetings, conducting outreach, and producing reports. They will have the ability to take initiative and to work both independently and with others, and to manage a project and coordinate with individuals and organizations in developing a plan.They will also have experience with community engagement and an understanding of environmental justice and equity issues. Ideally, they will be bilingual in English and Spanish to support the outreach and engagement with community stakeholders.
PARTNER INFO AND FELLOW EXPERIENCE
The Los Angeles Water Board is a State of California regulatory agency with goals to preserve, enhance, and restore the quality of California’s water resources and drinking water for the protection of the environment, public health, and all beneficial uses, and to ensure proper water resource allocation and efficient use, for the benefit of present and future generations.
The Los Angeles Water Board has a diverse staff of engineers, geologists, and scientists, working together to preserve, protect and enhance water quality. The staff are largely motivated by the environmental mission. A variety of backgrounds, cultures, and personal experiences are represented and welcomed and can thrive at the Water Boards.The Board members and staff collaborate with local, state, and federal agencies, and engage with stakeholders, communities and members of the public who are impacted by the Water Boards’ actions and decisions.
The position will offer significant professional development opportunities for the Fellow. The Fellow will develop a greater understanding of complex water-related technical issues. The fellow will broaden their understanding of the challenges of outreach and engagement. While the Los Angeles Water Board has established outreach procedures and has been strengthening outreach to underserved communities, this fellowship offers a real opportunity to establish new relationships and outreach methods and make a real and valuable change in the success of Water Board programs. There is also the opportunity to learn from leaders in the fields of climate change, conservation, urban resilience, and environmental justice and community engagement, who serve as Board members of the Los Angeles Water Board.
The State Water Board’s Emergency Management Program (EMP), in conjunction with the Department of Administrative Services Health and Safety Office (DAS), will be leading and coordinating the Water Board’s response to COVID-19. EMP and DAS are continuously monitoring the COVID-19 situation and are meeting with California Water Board management regularly to discuss any new information or situations that may arise.