Jean Auer (1937-2005) was the first woman to serve on the California State Water Resources Control Board and a pioneer for women aspiring to be leaders in the water world.
She is described as a “woman of great spirit who made large contributions to improve the waters of California.” She was appointed as the State Water Board’s public member by then-Governor Ronald Reagan and served from 1972-1977 during a time period that included the passage of the federal Clean Water Act. She became part of the growing movement for water quality regulations to stop water pollution.
Joan Didion is a native California author and playwright whose famous writings have featured California water issues.
Born and reared in Sacramento, she’s written extensively and personally about her feelings on the subject of water. In her memoir, Where I Was From, she tells not only the story about her pioneering family’s roots in the Sacramento area but also of the seasonal flooding, the water politics and controversies, and the California State Water Project (SWP) and federal Central Valley Project (CVP).
John Muir (1838-1914) was a famous and influential naturalist and conservationist who founded the Sierra Club in 1892 and was its president until he died. Throughout his life, this man from Scotland was also a farmer, inventor, sheepherder, explorer and writer.
John R. Teerink (1921-1992) was the director of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) from 1973-1975 during Governor Ronald Reagan’s administration.He had various lead roles in the implementation of the State Water Project during his 29-year career at DWR. He progressed through the ranks as junior engineer, assistant chief engineer and then deputy director until his appointment to head the department.
John Wesley Powell (1834-1902) was historic and heroic for being first to lead an expedition down the Colorado River in 1869. A major who lost an arm in the Civil War Battle of Shiloh, he was an explorer, geologist, geographer and ethnologist.
Julian B. Hinds (1881-1977) was Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s general manager and chief engineer from 1941-1951, but began work on the Colorado River Aqueduct in 1929 soon after the district was organized.
Lester A. Snow, the mastermind behind countless water resources management projects, has been involved in water issues in two states, both the public and private sectors and on regional, state and federal levels of government.
In a timeline of his career, Snow served from 1988-1995 as the general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority after leaving the Arizona Department of Water Resources. From 1995-1999, he was the executive director of the CALFED Bay-Delta Program, which included a team of both federal and state agencies.
Marc Reisner (1948-2000), an environmental writer who became a celebrity in the water world, was the author of Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water (1986), a best-seller about Western water history and politics and a full-blown critique of 20th century water development, especially in California and the West. “Based on 10 years of research, Cadillac Desert is a stunning expose and a dramatic, provocative history of the creation of an Eden — an Eden that may be only a mirage,” according to the book’s back flap.
Ralph M. Brody (1912-1981) served as Gov. Pat Brown’s special counsel on water issues and chief deputy director of the Department of Water Resources.
He was instrumental in ensuring passage of the State Water Project in 1960. He chaired the California Water Commission from 1960 -1966. From 1960 until his retirement in 1977, he was manager and chief counsel for Westlands Water District.
Robert A. Skinner (1895-1986) was the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California general manager from 1962-1967. An engineer, he was instrumental in negotiating the district’s contract with the California Department of Water Resources for delivery of water from Northern California. Both Lake Skinner and a treatment plant in southwestern Riverside County were named in his honor.
Robert B. Marshall (1867-1949), whose career at the U.S. Geological Survey culminated in 1908 when he became chief geographer for the entire USGS, first proposed the concept of a statewide water plan for a series of dams, canals and aqueducts to bring water to California’s Central Valley.
Robert “Bob” M. Hagan, Ph.D. (1917-2002), internationally renowned for his expertise in the relationships between plants, water, soil and water use efficiency — specifically in the area of agricultural water use — was a professor of water science, an irrigationist in the California Agricultural Experiment Station and a statewide extension specialist in the California Agricultural Extension Service during a 50-year career with the University of California, Davis.
Ron Stork, the award-winning policy director of the Friends of the River, joined the statewide California river conservation group in 1987 as its associate conservation director. Previously he was executive director of the Merced Canyon Committee, where he directed the successful effort to obtain the National Wild and Scenic River designation for the Merced River.
Ronald B. Robie, an associate justice on the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, has made his mark on state water issues during a career in public service that has spanned all three branches of government.
Stephen K. Hall (1951-2010) led the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) as its executive director from 1993 until retiring in 2007 from the effects of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Hall continued to stay current on water issues and to advocate for legislation on ALS at the state Capitol until he died.
His motto became “As much as I can for as long as I can.”
Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt (1858-1919) was the 26th president of the United States who established the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and created the U.S. Forest Service.
During his term of office from 1901-1909, he is credited for his efforts on conservation, increasing the number of national forests, protecting land for the public and promoting irrigation projects. For Roosevelt, water was instrumental to developing the Western states.
Thomas J. “Tom” Graff (1944-2009) opened up the California office of the Environmental Defense Fund in 1971 and was its regional director for more than 35 years.
Throughout his life, he was committed to the environment and the mentorship of environmental leaders. He was revered as an influential environmental lawyer on the state and federal water circuits and public forums and used strategic acumen to build partnerships to solve water problems with long-lasting solutions.
William E. “Bill” Warne (1905-1996) had a career for the record books that prominently featured water issues at state, federal and international levels.
He served under Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown as the second director of the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) from 1961-1967 along with also being the first Resources Agency secretary from 1961-1963 at the beginning of the construction of the California State Water Project.