004: Tia Lebherz: Saving Water, the Fight to Ban Fracking, and the Trans Pacific Partnership

This episode, Tia Lebherz talks in depth about saving water and other threats to our environment. First, we talk about her work at WaterNow Alliance and how WaterNow is bringing together people to find innovative ways to save water on the West Coast. Then we’ll talk about her work for Food and Water Watch as the California organizer and the importance of banning fracking, specifically in California. Finally, we’ll wrap up with a discussion of the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement signed in February that poses a serious threat to our access to safe food and water.

If you liked this interview, I think you'll enjoy my interview with activist, Charlie Furman.

I talk to Charlie Furman, an Activist and Digital Organizer who creates campaigns focused on creative internet organizing to spread movements quickly and meaningfully over many channels. Charlie was a campaign manager for Fight for the Future and faught hard for Net Neutrality and against the Trans Pacific Partnership and was also a digital organizer for 350.org, People’s Climate movement, and Demand Progress. 

You may also like my interview with illustrator, Lily Williams.

I talk to Lily Williams about her short film FINconceivable, an award winning informational short about the importance of sharks to our ecosystem. We talk about her upcoming illustrated children’s book called If Sharks Disappear which will be published next year through Roaring Brook Press. Finally, we discuss her newly released web comic that she co-created with Karen Schneemann, called The Mean Magenta. The Mean Magenta seeks to destigmatize periods by providing entertaining comics as well as health resources.


  •  Tia talks about WaterNow Alliance and their mission. [00:02:05]
  • Where does our water come from? [00:04:20]
  • What technology is Water Now Alliance working on? [00:06:20]
  • What is keeping water companies from implementing these technologies? Customers saving money on water means less money for water companies to implement new water saving technologies. [00:07:40]
  • The unsexy Gasby project and how WaterNow Alliance is working to help water companies invest in sustainable innovation by listing the water that they save as an asset. [00:10:22]
  • How do we get our water in California? [00:15:07]
  • Anything we should pay attention to in the coming elections as far as water protections? [00:16:20]
  • Corporate verse residential water activism. [00:17:50]
  • Clip of Tia protesting at the March for Real Climate Change that she organized.[00:20:55]
  • Let’s talk about fracking in California. What is it? What are the methods? [00:22:00] 
  • Tia’s thoughts on Governor Jerry Brown and his refusal to ban fracking. And how do you balance economic needs with environmental protections? [00:26:55]
  • Tia protesting at a rally against the TPP. [00:31:31]
  • What is the TPP? [00:32:40]
  • What the TPP means for fracking. [00:34:16]
  • What is Fast Track and how was it used for the TPP? [00:37:30]
  • Are trade agreements fundamentally flawed? [00:39:10]
  • Vote! [00:40:30]
  • How can people help? [00:42:00]



“It’s actually one of the barriers that we’ve identified with these Mayors and city council people is that a lot of people, I would say the vast majority of people don’t actually know where their water comes from and don’t understand how water infrastructure works and how their rates are structured and kind of all these important aspects that really play into watershed health and you know affordability and access in those kinds of things.” [00:04:20]

“So 80% of what we pay every month 80% of the money that they bring in goes to just like upkeep of the infrastructure Etc. And so when we use less and then they make less they be there is a deficit, just in the operating in general. So to then ask utilities to invest in these sustainable solutions is crazy because they’re already like well we’re running out of money And so how to pay for solutions, like the two big things that the alliance members talk to us about is they say are two problems are how do we pay for these Solutions? And how do we communicate to rate payers that they that we need to do this? Right? Like how do we communicate and or how do we figure out during a drought, you know, if we have to raise rates, then consumers are paying more for less. and that’s like opposite of capitalism. [laughs] The opposite of what we’ve been raised to believe. But for something like water, it’s like kind of a necessity.” [00:08:20]

“So what we’re doing is actually really cool and sexy. We are asking for a technical clarification on the law not even changing the law just a technical clarification. We just want to make it clear to utilities that they’re allowed to use bond financing to bring in sustainable Innovation because the water that is being saved is technically an asset. The water that’s still the reservoir the water that’s not being wasted is the asset.” [00:11:45]

“I feel like working with WaterNow Alliance is playing this long game of like people need to feel it first in their homes and in their taps and get it and understand where their water comes from and have a better, like, water worldview before they’re gonna you know, get all hot and bothered about like corporate abuse of water.” [00:18:55]

“90% of the fracking and oil extraction that’s happening is in low income communities of color. This is a huge justice issue in California we’re poisoning communities.” [00:27:55]

“We love seeing Energy Efficiency goals. We love seeing renewable energy standards. We love seeing you know, solar subsidies and those kinds of things but you can’t just push solutions without addressing the supply side of things. We are, it fluctuates. But at any given day, we’re about the third largest oil producing state in the nation which people, I don’t think realize that. It’s Texas, North Dakota, Alaska and California like we are a oil-producing state. And you know, you can’t be a climate– and if you think about that. America is you one or two, top three or oil producing nations in the world. So that puts California very high on the list of oil producing regions in the world and you can’t be a climate leader while running one of the largest oil-producing regions in the world.” [00:28:15]

“We can’t necessarily stop climate change at this point. But like if we want to start to address climate change in a really meaningful way, we have to keep fossil fuels in the ground.” [00:29:31]

“Does the viability of a livable planet and justice for you know, all people regardless of income or you know, the color of their skin matter? Yeah, it does matter and all these fights are also intertwined.” [00:30:20]

“I think that as long as corporations are people and money is speech that we will not be able to govern the United States like I want to govern it.” [00:39:10]

“I think that there’s a lot of really big overarching the fights think we need to keep fighting especially on like local and state levels. I think that that’s really where you can you get farther away from federal and I alluded to this earlier and I said, I don’t really like federal politics. I think as you get farther away from federal politics and more localized, you get more power, more people power. More individual empowerment over what’s happening. And so I think that that’s you know, that’s the power of Grassroots right? Like they are on the ground and their Community doing their thing. And so the goal is really to engage people on those local issues.” [00:39:25]

If you believe that some that there’s a cause that calls your name. Maybe it’s giving $5 a month to that cause that makes a big difference. It’s a cup of coffee a month. You can sustain an organization. You can help sustain an organization. Maybe it’s its voting and getting you know five of your friends to vote, too. Maybe, if you’re an artist it’s you know, figuring out how you can work with the local nonprofit to mutually benefit each other. But it’s you know, I think it’s more than anything. It’s like getting informed.” [00:43:00]

Comment below with some of your favorite moments from the interview!


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