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October 22, 2010 > Youth commissioners needed to shape our water future

Youth commissioners needed to shape our water future

It may sound cliche to say the youth are our future, but when we talk about our future water supply, we must remember our youth. My job as a Santa Clara Valley Water District board member would be pretty easy if all we had to worry about was providing water for today. Many of the decisions we make today will impact our youth, our grandchildren and generations to come. Recognizing this fact, the water district is involving youth like never before.

When my board colleague, Cy Mann, first suggested we consider establishing a youth advisory committee, some people wondered why we would seek advice from teenagers. Here's one example why:

Over the summer, a local high school student was volunteering in our popular education program, and observed one of our board meetings. The board had been discussing our long-range water supply and flood protection plans. To us, long-range usually means 20 to 30 years from now. But this teenager was unimpressed. He wanted to know that we had a plan to meet the water supply and flood protection needs for his future family. He reminds us that our job is to plan for current and future generations.

We need to engage our youth in our work, not just for what we have to teach them about water conservation, flood safety and taking care of our watersheds, but for what they have to teach us. Hearing from youth will help us keep our focus on the future.

To that end, we will be establishing the district's first Youth Stewardship Commission this winter. We are seeking 15 to 20 outstanding high school students to serve on the commission. The youth commissioners will explore careers in the water industry and foster stewardship and responsibility for our natural resources. Current and retired water district employees will give the commissioners tours and presentations on water related careers.

In turn, the youth commissioners will serve as ambassadors to schools throughout the county, visiting middle and elementary schools to encourage the next generation to conserve water and take care of our local creeks through our Adopt-A-Creek program. The commissioners will help host clean-up sites for National River Cleanup Day this May and Coastal Cleanup Day in September.

I encourage any interested youth to look for the application which will be available by the end of October on the water district's website, www.valleywater.org. Applications are due by November 30, 2010. The selection process will be finalized in December and the commission's first meeting will be scheduled for January, 2011. For more information about the commission, contact Bonnie LeMat at blemat@valleywater.org or (408)265-2607, ext. 2602.

As always, I am available for questions or comments as your District 3 representative for Sunnyvale; Alviso; Milpitas; and the Berryessa/Alum Rock communities, east of Highway 101 to the Evergreen community area. Feel free to contact me at (408) 234-7707.

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