The California Water Institute (CWI) was founded to be a forum for unbiased, open, collaborative discussion, research and education on water-related issues benefiting the entire state and beyond.
In March 2000, voters approved Proposition 13, a $2 billion water bond measure. Three-million dollars of start-up funds for the California Water Institute were included in a portion of the bond co-authored by then State Senator Jim Costa of Fresno and then State Assembly Member Mike Machado of Linden. In October 2000, a diverse group representing government, public organizations, and private industry – all with a vested interest in water use for agriculture, urban needs and the environment – met to outline and create a shared vision and mission for the future of the California Water Institute that includes the following scope of activities:
- To carry out concise, comprehensive studies that will provide the direction for better future uses and conservation of the State’s waters.
- To promote practices that will enhance and preserve the State’s water resources and their quality.
- To serve as a center for research, education, planning, policy evaluation, and information transfer.
- To communicate the results of its research and studies with the residents of California.
- To collaborate with agencies and institutions in California to seek a positive resolution to the State’s complex water problems.
- Present workshops and symposia.
- Maintain a collection of pertinent information.
- Provide objective, third-party review of water issues.
In 2015, President Castro received the recommendations from the Water Task Force he created. One of those recommendations was to create an Associate Vice-President position to organize everything water at the Fresno State campus. The California Water Institute directed by Executive Director Thomas Esqueda, ensures that its original charge still remains but grows to include a one stop shop for water research, educations, and services at Fresno State.