Water Leaders: Where Are They Now?
Scott A. Morris, Shareholder, Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard
Class Year: 1998
Class Research Project: Water Transfers in California
What was your job when you were in the water leaders class? I was an associate attorney at my current firm – Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard
What does your job focus on these days?
I serve as general counsel to several public water agencies, so my legal focus is broader than my Water Leader days. For example, I now need to be concerned about the Brown Act, public contracting and construction law, the Public Records Act, conflict-of-interest rules, and Prop 218, rather than primarily just water and environmental laws. Working as a lawyer is exciting as our world is constantly changing, such as implementation of the new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).
What is the most pressing water issue that you are dealing with?
Right now, it seems that, in addition to my general counsel duties, my world is revolving largely around SGMA. It is a whirlwind of activity due to the extremely tight deadlines imposed by the law. There is no time to reflect on each accomplishment along the way, like forming a Groundwater Sustainability Agency, because right behind it is the requirement to actually prepare a Groundwater Sustainability Plan. There is no rest for the weary. It is truly exciting to be working on the most significant water legislation in over 100 years.
What memories do you have of your time in our Water Leaders program?
I remember how excited everyone – from my classmates to the Foundation staff and Jean Auer (our fearless leader) – was to be involved in the program. Remember, this was only its second year so no one really knew what to expect. We all got along well right off the bat, which was due to the excitement Rita Schmidt Sudman and Jean generated. It was a lot of fun and we all learned a great deal. I also remember how good the water tours were. I was amazed at how much information the Foundation packed into the tours and how much I learned. I also really enjoyed the one-on-one conversations on those tours and with my classmates.
Who was your mentor and what valuable advice did you get?
Barry Nelson, then a senior fellow at the Save the San Francisco Bay Institute. I specifically asked to have a mentor from the environmental community as my work already exposed me to the water user community. I think that started the current trend of matching people of different viewpoints. Barry exposed me to those opposite views.
What did you learn during the Water Leaders class that is helping you now?
I think the Water Leaders program instills confidence in the participants which is, of course, invaluable throughout one’s career. It also opens the door to many real world water leaders who serve as mentors and/ or participate in class seminars or the like. You learn these leaders are human and they want to help you learn the trade and to be successful. Also, that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for their advice and counsel or even their friendship. They are following in the footsteps of those who helped them and in general, they are happy to pay it forward.
What advice do you have for young professionals in the water world?
When it comes to water, don’t be afraid to seek viewpoints from every point of view. Water is a very scarce, precious resource that all interests need. While there are unfortunately battles to be fought, there is far more common ground than people realize when they first start evaluating a situation.