The next two years of leadership on the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors were cemented today with the election of the agency’s Board officers, whose terms will begin Oct. 1.
Mark Muir, who represents the San Dieguito Water District on the Water Authority’s Board and has served as the Board’s vice chair for two years, was elected the new Board chair. Jim Madaffer, secretary of the Board for the past two years as a representative from the City of San Diego, will serve as vice chair. Incoming Secretary Gary Croucher is a Board representative from the Otay Water District.
Muir’s election follows two years of Board leadership under Mark Weston, a retired general manager of the Helix Water District who has served as a Board representative from the City of Poway since 2011. Weston was honored at today’s meeting for leading the Water Authority through a period marked by escalating drought challenges, regional success beating state-mandated water-use reduction targets and the historic start of operations at the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant.
“Thanks to extraordinary conservation efforts, we stored 100,000 acre-feet of water in the recently expanded San Vicente Reservoir well ahead of schedule, adding to reserves that will protect us from future dry years,” Muir said. “Last December, we started commercial operations at the largest seawater desalination plant in the country, adding up to 56,000 acre-feet of locally controlled, drought-resilient supplies to the region each year.
“While supply conditions have improved this year, our region still faces many important water-related issues and challenges,” Muir said. “Looking ahead, we will be focused on ensuring the long-term water supply reliability of the region through supporting local supply development, advocating for balanced state water-use regulations that account for local supply and demand conditions, and promoting water-use efficiency at homes and businesses through our Live WaterSmart campaign.”
Muir also said that the Water Authority will continue its efforts to ensure the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California charges legal rates. The Water Authority has filed four lawsuits against illegal rates at MWD covering 2011-2018. A state Superior Court judge in 2015 ordered MWD to pay the Water Authority more than $235 million in damages, costs and pre-judgment interest for illegal overcharges in 2011-2014, plus attorneys’ fees determined in 2016 to be $8.9 million. Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow also ordered MWD to only set legal rates in future years.
“Preventing a continuation of these illegal overcharges could ultimately save this region billions of dollars,” Muir said.
Muir joined the Water Authority Board as a representative for the San Dieguito Water District in 2013 and currently serves on the Water Authority’s Administrative and Finance Committee as well as the agency’s Legislation, Conservation and Outreach Committee. Muir previously represented the Olivenhain Municipal Water District on the Board from 2003-2011. A native San Diegan and career firefighter, Muir rose to the rank of fire chief for the cities of Del Mar, Encinitas and Solana Beach from 2009-11. He is a city councilmember for Encinitas and a member of the Council of Water Utilities, and previously served as chair of the Water Authority’s Imported Water Committee and vice chair for both the Imported Water Committee and the Water Planning Committee. Muir earned his bachelor’s degree in emergency planning and is nearing completion of a master’s degree in public administration from San Diego State University.
Incoming Vice Chair Madaffer joined the Water Authority Board in 2012. He currently serves on the Water Authority’s Imported Water Committee and the Legislation, Conservation and Outreach Committee. He is president of Madaffer Enterprises, which specializes in public policy and government relations. Madaffer is a member of the California Transportation Commission, is a former city councilmember for the City of San Diego, and previously served as chair of the San Diego Association of Governments’ Transportation Committee and as president of the California League of Cities.
Newly elected Secretary Gary Croucher is the current chair of the Water Authority’s Legislation, Conservation and Outreach Committee and is a member of the agency’s Engineering and Operations Committee. Also a career firefighter, he currently serves as assistant chief for CAL Fire/San Diego County Fire after several advancements during his 30-year career. Croucher is chair of the Border Agencies Fire Council and was previously the San Diego County Fire Districts’ representative to Homeland Security. A three-time president of the Otay Water District Board of Directors, Croucher also serves on the Local Agency Formation Commission’s Special District Advisory Committee and is a past president of Southern Area Fire Equipment Research and the San Miguel Firefighters.
The Water Authority’s 36-member board, representing 24 retail member water agencies, holds its regular meetings on the fourth Thursday of each month January through October. The November and December meetings have been combined this year on Dec. 8. Board meetings are at the Water Authority’s headquarters, 4677 Overland Ave., San Diego. Board documents and webcasts of Board meetings are at www.sdcwa.org.