The rich history of Coachella Valley in the desert region of Riverside County, California, is embedded within the Whitewater River watershed and the Coachella Valley aquifer. Archaeological evidence confirms that the local Cahuilla people have inhabited the Coachella Valley area for centuries, relying on the water for drinking, irrigation, and the healing powers of the natural hot springs pools. Today, the Whitewater River continues to serve as a critical water resource that replenishes the Coachella Valley aquifer—a drinking source for 400,000 people, including the reservation for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla people, and 66,000 acres of farmland. Coachella Valley is also home to a diverse array of animals and plants species that are now threatened by degradation of water quality caused by urban and agricultural development. The river, aquifer, and Salton Sea, to which it drains, suffer from a legacy of poor development practices, antiquated infrastructure insufficient for the area’s current and future growth, pollution from agricultural return flow and unpermitted concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), industrial runoff, and aquifer overdrafting.
Nina Waszak, a former Peace Corps sustainable agriculture agent and environmentalist, leads Coachella Valley Waterkeeper as its founding associate director. As an avid hiker and camper, protecting natural spaces is of the utmost importance for Waszak. In her associate director role, she will coordinate watershed protection programs and collaborate with water policymakers in the desert to ensure clean water for future generations.
72-960 Fred Waring Dr., Ste #10
Palm Desert, California 92260