Alex Hildebrand (1913-2012) had an understanding and knowledge of California’s South Delta and San Joaquin River bar none. After retiring early from a career as an engineer for Standard Oil of California, he moved his family to the San Joaquin Valley where he farmed for nearly 50 years while active in water issues and as an advocate for the area.
Anne J. Schneider (1947-2010) is acknowledged as one of the first women to become well known and well respected in the field of California and Western water law. “Anne was an amazing person — an accomplished college athlete, mountain climber, skier, marathon runner, velodrome and long-distance cyclist; a devoted mother; a dedicated conservationist,” said Justice Ronald B. Robie in the Inaugural Anne J. Schneider Memorial Lecture in May 2012.
Arthur D. Edmonston directed the early planning of the Central Valley Project, State Water Project and State Water Plan.
He served as California state engineer and chief of the Division of Water Resources (predecessor to the Department of Water Resources) from 1950-1955, a time of rapid population, agricultural and industry growth California. Water shortages were common, and groundwater supplies were being overdrafted.
Carley V. Porter (1906-1972) was the longtime chairman of the California Legislature’s Assembly Committee on Water who has two historical and important water laws named after him. He was a Democrat from Compton in Los Angeles County and a teacher before being elected to the Assembly.
Clair A. Hill (1909-1998), a self-made engineer nicknamed “California’s Mr. Water,” built from the ground up an engineering firm that would merge to form the global consulting firm of CH2M HILL.
In 1938 in his hometown of Redding along the Upper Sacramento River in Northern California, he founded Clair A. Hill & Associates. Before merging with CH2M in 1971, the two firms had collaborated on many projects together, including the Lake Tahoe Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility — the first of its kind in the world.
David A. Gaines (1947-1988) is known for founding the Mono Lake Committee in 1978 with the goal of preserving its ecosystem and leading a grassroots effort to “Save Mono Lake.” The result would be an environmental cause célèbre. As a synopsis of the Mono Lake litigation, in 1979 a lawsuit was filed against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) to stop diversions to Southern California — citing the public trust values at Mono Lake.
David N. Kennedy (1936-2007) was at the helm as the director of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) for 15 years, the longest serving director to date, and a champion of the State Water Project (SWP).
Don McCrea was one of the founding members of the Water Education Foundation and signed its original Articles of Incorporation in 1977.
His background was in power and energy issues, including hydrology and the state’s hydrologic system, from a career at the Pacific Gas & Electric Company in San Francisco. He was involved in the development of the State Water Project as a proponent of the value of hydroelectricity.
Edmund G. “Pat” Brown (1905-1996) was California’s governor from 1959-1967, exemplified the best in public service and left a wide-ranging legacy that featured first and foremost the State Water Project (SWP) and California Aqueduct but also included the Fair Housing Act, the Fair Employment Act, the Master Plan for Higher Education and highway expansion.
Edward Hyatt Jr. (1888-1954) was the state engineer of California from 1927-1950. In a 1928 report he wrote titled “Water is the Life Blood of California — The Division of Engineering and Irrigation of the State Department of Public Works; What it Does and How it Operates,” he called the department the “building organization of California’s state government” and described successes, challenges and responsibilities of his position.
Elwood Mead (1858-1936) was the commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation during the era of the development of Hoover Dam on the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada, Grand Coulee Dam in Washington and Owyhee Dam in Oregon, among other large water projects.
Fred. T. Perris (1837-1916) became the chief engineer and superintendent of construction of the California Southern Railway. A civil engineer, he also played a role in surveying and taking water measurements in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties. The Lake Perris State Recreation Area and the city of Perris are named after him.
Gordon Cologne served for 10 years in the California Legislature during the 1960s and early 1970s while the California State Water Project was being built.
His interest in water issues began from his early life in the Coachella Valley desert. An attorney, he worked in both the public sector in Washington, D.C, and then in private practice in California. He also served his local community as a member of the city of Indio City Council, including as mayor, before his decision to run for election to fill an open seat in the Assembly.
Harvey O. Banks (1910-1996), a lifelong civil engineer, played an integral role in the development of water projects in California.
He became the first director of the state Department of Water Resources, appointed by Governor Goodwin J. Knight on July 5, 1956 — the date the department was officially established. He continued as director under Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown. During Banks’ tenure as director from 1956-1961, he was key in the planning and the initial construction of the California State Water Project (SWP).
Hiram W. Wadsworth (1862-1939) is known as the father of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. As the mayor of Pasadena, he called for a regional partnership of municipalities to bring water to Southern California. After initiating the Colorado River Aqueduct Association and being elected its president, he directed the campaign from 1924-1929 that led to the establishment of the district. The pumping plant at Diamond Valley Lake, located 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles in Riverside County, was named the Hiram W. Wadsworth Pumping/Hydro-generating Facility in his honor.