The Council for Watershed Health was founded in 1995-1996 to improve communication and coordination between the various government agencies responsible for managing the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers watershed. At the time, the five types of water agencies (supply, groundwater, stormwater, water quality, wastewater) were not exchanging information with each other or the public.
To address this, representatives from the water agencies, regulatory agencies, citizen groups, and consultants met for a year in Pasadena to discuss solutions. They acknowledged that agencies were traditionally single-purpose and not required to coordinate. The group agreed to hold a conference to determine how to improve communication and make watershed management more comprehensive.
The “Making Watersheds Work” conference was held in September 1995 in Burbank. It was invitation-only, with participants chosen for their diverse interests and willingness to think innovatively. The group examined four local watersheds, finding that only the LA and San Gabriel Rivers lacked an organized cooperative effort.
The conference costs were covered by several convening organizations, leaving leftover funds to create a diverse stakeholders group – the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council.
The new Council:
- Brainstormed issues in the watershed and organized them into an outline later used by the County and Army Corps in their Watershed Management Plan.
- Adopted a mission statement to facilitate stakeholder-driven preservation, restoration, and enhancement through education, research, planning, and mediation.
- Structured itself as a non-profit, tax-exempt California corporation with inclusive bylaws requiring respectful consensus-based decision-making.
- Held monthly meetings, building a mailing list to keep interested parties informed.
The Council brought together disparate groups to improve communication and coordination on managing the LA and San Gabriel Rivers watershed. Its inclusive structure and consensus-based approach allowed for innovative, comprehensive watershed management planning.
Elected our first board of directors:
Dorothy Green, President, Heal the Bay
Michael Drennan, Vice-President, MDA Associates
Arthur Golding, Vice-President, Arthur Golding & Assoc., A.I.A.
Chuck Sihler, Secretary, Public Works City of Pomona
Joe Crocker, Treasurer, CPA
Kathleen Bullard, RCD of the Santa Monica Mtns
Andy Lipkis, TreePeople
Bob Miele, Sharon Green, Alt., Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts
Jim Noyes, LA County Public Works
Mark Pisano, Southern California Assoc. of Governments
Official Liaisons (non-voting):
Christopher Kroll, CA State Coastal Conservancy
Jovita Pajarillo, US EPA, Region IX
Mike Rogers, US Forest Service, Angeles National Forest
Gail C. Kobetich, Gina Shultz, Alt., US Fish and Wildlife Service
Jan Scow, California Native Plant Society
John Slezak, Ana Corado, Alt., LA Regional Water Quality Control Board
Lynda Smith, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California