Water Leaders: Where Are They Now?
Edgar G. Dymally, Senior Environmental Specialist, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
Class Year: Inaugural Year 1997
Class Project Theme: Current Views on the CALFED Bay-Delta Program
What do you do?
A large part of my job is to analyze potential legislation and regulation for impacts on Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, its member agencies and the drinking water industry. I’m also active in several trade associations including the Association of California Water Agencies (Vice-Chair, Water Quality Committee). My main responsibility is to ensure that Metropolitan continues to comply with all federal, state and local regulations.
What is the most pressing water issue that you are dealing with?
The drought has created problems for just about every water utility and water supply agency. The changing nature of the industry also presents huge challenges.
What did you learn during the Water Leaders class that is helping you now?
Knowing and understanding the diverse array of interest groups and players in California water is essential to my job. My time in the class allowed me to meet and understand many of these groups and build relationships. I continue to work with several of my classmates including Denise Kruger, senior vice president of Golden State Water Company.
Who was your mentor and what valuable advice did you get?
My mentor was then-state Sen. Jim Costa, who was chair of the Senate Ag and Water committee and easily one of the most knowledgeable officials on water in the state. He allowed me to shadow him for a whole day that included him chairing his Senate committee. I literally sat next to him during the hearing. We stayed in touch.
What advice do you have for young professionals in the water world?
Broaden the scope of your occupation/career path. Learn as much as you can about your expertise but it’s always a smart idea to know the impacts of other disciplines on your career. As a young professional, you should always be able to anticipate change and be ready to accept and embrace it.
Also, for anyone with a technical or scientific background, being able to navigate non-technical/political consideration often poses the greatest challenges.
Any other anecdotes from your time as a water leader?
Our class was present when then-Vice President Al Gore addressed the Foundation’s Executive Briefing. Immediately after his speech, we were presented for the obligatory photo op! A photo of me shaking Mr. Gore’s hand became a mainstay of the Water Leaders program. I have that framed picture on the wall of my office.
My fondest memory of my time as a water leader was clearly the leadership and relationship with Jean Auer. [Editor’s Note: Auer was a founder of the Water Leaders Program.] She may have described herself as something of a “mother hen” but I could not think of a better leader or inspiration than Jean. She was always nurturing and supportive of all of our efforts during the class. I miss her and will always remember her as a large part of the water leader experience.