Davis appointed new California Water Resources chief

California Gov. Jerry Brown has named Grant Davis as the new director of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). The appointment, which requires state Senate confirmation, would mean Davis taking over the position on Aug. 1 as head of the state agency that oversees California’s water supplies.


Davis, 54, has been general manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency since 2010. Under Davis’ leadership, the agency has won praise for transparency and progressive policies in water conservation and environmental restoration of the Russian River watershed.

“The Water Agency is known around the world for its innovative water supply initiatives and state-of-the-art sustainability programs,” said Sonoma County Water Agency Board of Directors Chairwoman and Third District Supervisor Shirlee Zane.

“The state of California is gaining a true water professional who can think outside of the box while working with everyone in the room,” said Zane in a media release. “Our community benefited from his ability to work with all stakeholders to ensure our region continues to provide affordable, clean drinking water while meeting critical environmental enhancement projects.”

County supervisors, who also serve as the Water Agency’s board of directors, will select a successor, said Zane. In the interim, the Water Agency’s chief engineer, Jay Jasperse, and assistant general managers, Pam Jeane and Mike Thompson, “will ensure that a seamless transition occurs until the board takes formal action,” said Zane.

“To my colleagues at the Water Agency, I can’t say thank you enough for your unparalleled professionalism and dedication to our community and the organization,” Davis said in a prepared statement. “I am also appreciative of the Water Agency’s Board of Directors who provide the leadership and support needed to secure our future water supply.”

Davis joined the Water Agency in 2007 as assistant general manager before becoming general manager in 2010. As general manager, Davis supervised more than 280 employees responsible for the Water Agency’s core functions of providing drinking water to more than 600,000 residents in most of Sonoma County and northern Marin County, wastewater management for 60,000 customers and maintaining nearly 100 miles of streams and detention basins for flood protection. The Water Agency is also restoring habitat for three Russian River fish species federally listed as threatened or endangered.

Under Davis’ leadership, the Water Agency developed the North Coast and Bay Area Integrated Regional Water Management Programs in which $19 million was secured to support installation of a new regional Bay Area weather forecasting satellite system.

Prior to joining the Water Agency, Davis was executive director of The Bay Institute, a science-based nonprofit, dedicated to protecting the San Francisco Bay-Delta watershed.

The state DWR operates and maintains the California State Water Project, which provides drinking water to residents and water to agriculture. DWR programs also work to preserve natural environment and wildlife, monitor dam safety, manage floodwaters, conserve water use, and provide technical assistance and funding for local water needs projects.

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