Sonora High School’s ‘Water Guardians’ inspire proposed conservation law

Four Sonora High School students, dubbed the La Habra Water Guardians, have helped a state lawmaker introduce a bill that aims to promote water conservation across California’s public schools.

The students from the La Habra campus assisted Assemblyman Phillip Chen, R-Brea, in crafting Assembly Bill 1343, or the Go Low Flow Water Conservation Partnership, which would promote partnerships between K-12 schools and their water suppliers.

AB 1343 would allow water suppliers that offer water efficiency rebates to commercial and industrial users, to also include K-12 schools. Schools would use the rebates for planned and future facilities improvements that include water-efficient toilets, faucets, and hose nozzles.

Assemblyman Phillip Chen with two sonora high students
(Courtesy Photo) Sonora High students Jessica Gallegos (left), and Fiona Paredes (right), visit Assemblyman Phillip Chen, R-Brea, in his office at the state Capitol.

Chen said he was inspired to sponsor AB 1343 after learning about how the Water Guardians, Jessica Gallegos, 14, Fiona Paredes, 15; June Kim, 14; and Angeline Dequit, 15, created a water conservation plan when they attended Washington Middle School in 2015 that cut water consumption by 30 percent.

The four girls, who now attend Sonora High, traveled this week to Sacramento to speak on behalf of the bill before the Assembly’s Education Committee.

“Gov. Brown recently said the drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner,” Paredes told committee members during the hearing. “So, we need to continue to conserve water, especially at our schools.”

The committee unanimously approved AB 1343. The bill will next go before the Assembly’s Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials in coming weeks. The full state Legislature could vote on the bill in the summer or early fall.

The bill also encourages schools to work with their water suppliers to better educate students, families, and communities on the importance of water conservation.