Oral Histories

Interview of Conner Everts

Executive director of the Southern California Watershed Alliance and co-chair of the Desal Response Group.
Environmental Activism in Los Angeles
Social Movements
Environmental Movement
Biographical Note:
Executive director of the Southern California Watershed Alliance and co-chair of the Desal Response Group.
Collings, Jane
Everts, Conner
Persons Present:
Everts and Collings.
Place Conducted:
Young Research Library, UCLA.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, interviewer and senior editor, Center for Oral History Research. B.A., Communications, Antioch College; M.A., Communications, University of Iowa; Ph.D., Critical Studies, UCLA.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Everts was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a few corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
1.75 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The series documents environmental activism in the Los Angeles area from the 1970s through to the present day. The majority of interviews are with either founders or knowledgeable participants in major regional environmental organizations. Represented groups embody a wide range of issues, including conservation, restoration, environmental justice and toxic waste disposal.Additional partially processed interviews are available through Library Special Collections.
Early background--Family of artists and writers--Love of outdoors—Participation in grandparents’ efforts to live off the land--A formative experience during the drought of 1976-77—Social service work-- A stint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development --Advises local government, non-profits, and engineering firms on water sustainability—Interest in sustainability among those on the left in the 1970s--The draft during the Vietnam conflict--Works for City of Burbank Municipal Water Utility teaching on water issues—A period of rapid urbanization in L.A.—More on work with water conservation at the City of Burbank--A successful conservation effort in Pasadena--Efforts to keep Ojai drinking water reservoir clean--Role as conservation coordinator for City of Burbank--The struggle to save Mono Lake--Mono Lake meeting attended by Juana Gutierrez from Mothers of East Los Angeles (MELA)--A successful toilet exchange program reduces water use--Efforts to restore Mono Lake--Department of Water and Power (DWP) general manager Jerry Gewe--Advances in toilet technology for saving water--“Pricing incentives” as a mechanism for conserving water--DWP incentives to replace lawns--Graywater systems and cisterns present opportunities for conservation--The need to recycle water in L.A.--Importance of breaking the cycle of energy and water overuse—Australia’s implementation of cisterns for water capture--Water capture efforts in L.A. and Santa Monica--Lack of planning puts L.A. area, and California as a whole, at risk during any period of drought--The problem of chronic overuse of water in outdoor plantings--A new look at ways to recycle waste water—Hazards of a one-size-fits- all approach to water policy--The cultural attitude of Californians toward water--The varying costs of water, depending on it source--The low price of water for agricultural use--Tiered rates for water use--Obstacles to replacing lawns with drought-resistant plantings--The sense of entitlement with regard to water rights on the part of agriculture--A plethora of water agencies in the state with conflicting mandates--The political power of big agriculture--The need for a new generation of activists working on water issues--The clean water shortage in Maywood, California--More on need for a new generation of activists--The lack of public awareness about how water is regulated and used--The lack of groundwater regulation in California--A contentious battle to get Ojai landowners to meter their wells--The importance of good communication with community members--The efficacy of the toilet switch out--The usefulness of well water metering in Ojai for understanding consumption patterns--California’s water rights system--The formation of the Southern California Watershed Alliance--The Desal Response Group--The Delta Tunnels fight--The Environmental Water Caucus--The concept of “paper water”--A kayak trip down the L.A. River in order to demonstrate that the river is navigable--The MELA community group--High participation of community groups in water issues--Miguel Luna--The Environmental Justice Coalition for Water--Thirsty for Justice: The Struggle for the Human Right to Water documentary film--A new generation of activists with a social justice point of view--More on the water situation in Maywood--How the Southern California Watershed Alliance determines priorities for involvement--Instances when the group’s policy decisions conflict with those of the founders--Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Green L.A. initiative--Potential for organizing in LA--How climate change will impact water strategy in L.A.--The opportunities for environmental work presented by like-minded individuals in the entertainment industry.