New DWR director appointed, executive team restructured

Wednesday, the Department of Water Resources announced they appointed a new director and its executive team has been restructured to further bolster dam and flood safety, emphasize climate resilience, and incorporate lessons learned from recent impacts of extreme weather on the state's water system.

Karla Nemeth was named as the new director. Nemeth has been deputy secretary and senior adviser for water policy at the California Natural Resources Agency since 2014. She also was the project manager for the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan at the California Natural Resources Agency from 2009 to 2014, she was the environmental and public affairs director at the Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, Zone 7, from 2005 to 2009 and she brings extensive knowledge of the state's water system, California Water Action Plan and California WaterFix to the position.

Nemeth succeeds Grant Davis, who is returning to Sonoma County Water Agency to serve as General Manager.

DWR also announced the restructuring and elevation of a number of positions on its executive team to help improve long-term planning and day-to-day management of key water programs, dam safety, and flood control. All functions that are increasingly critical in the face of climate change.

The restructuring includes replacing an existing executive position, Deputy Director for Integrate Water Management, with two positions tightly focused on priority area. The first of these positions, Deputy Director for Flood Management and Dam Safety, will focus specifically on flood management, dam safety, and the operations of DWR's dams, consistent with recommendations from the Independent Forensic Team tasked with examining the Oroville Dam spillways incident.

Eric Koch, who has served in numerous leadership roles at DWR over the past decade, will serve in this new role effective Wednesday and will oversee the Division of Flood Management and the Division of Safety of Dams.

The second position, Deputy Director for Integrated Water Management and Multi-Benefit programs, will focus on long-range planning and integrated water management, as well as local water supply sustainability and DWR's EcoRestore Program. This Deputy Director will also oversee program that achieve multiple benefits in the area of flood control, surface water, groundwater, and ecosystem health.

DWR is also consolidating responsibilities for management of the newly established Executive Sustainable Groundwater Management Program with Deputy Director for Special Initiatives Taryn Ravazzini. The move will help with the implementation of the landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, a key priority of the administration. Ravazzini has served as Deputy Director since 2014.

For more information in the state's ongoing efforts to further boost dam safety can be found here. Information about the ongoing effort to strengthen infrastructure and prepare for and adapt to a changing climate can be found here.

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