The Sonoma County Water Agency Board of Directors announced this week that Grant Davis, who left the agency just five months ago, will return to the SCWA as its general manager, a post he formerly held between 2010 and 2017. He had left last year when he was appointed by Governor Brown to serve as Director of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).
“Mr. Davis recently approached the County to request consideration to return to his former position, stressing his desire to serve in his home community in the wake of our catastrophe,” said SCWA Chairman James Gore. “His local and regional experience, combined with his statewide relationships, will serve the Water Agency and the entire County well.”
Davis was appointed by Brown to become the Director of the California Department of Water Resources on August 1, 2017, following the retirement of acting director William R. Croyle in July. DWR operates and maintains the California State Water Project (SWP), which provides drinking water and water to farms.
Brown’s administration named Karla Nemeth as the agency’s new director to replace Davis, as part of an agency-wide shakeup in the wake of last year’s crisis at the Oroville Dam. That spillway breakdown occurred prior to Davis being hired by the state agency, but a recent independent report on the near-disaster recommended greater changes at the agency, including a new deputy director job tasked with flood management, dam safety and dam operations.
In thanking the agency’s board of directors for re-appointing him on short notice – Gore said Davis contacted him about two weeks ago – Davis said, “Working with Gov. Brown and his administration as the director of the California Department of Water Resources was a tremendous experience. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve Gov. Brown.”
Davis took a pay cut to lead the state agency, where his state salary was $194,600 and returns to the SCWA where he stands to earn more. He was paid $240,710 in 2016 to run the Sonoma County Water Agency.
Davis, a Petaluma resident, joined the SCWA in 2007 as the assistant general manager and became general manager in 2010. The job has oversight of the agency’s core functions of providing drinking water to over 600,000 residents in portions of Sonoma and Marin counties, wastewater management for 60,000 customers, maintaining nearly 100 miles of streams and detention basins for flood protection, and restoring habitat for three federally listed fish species in the Russian River.
Prior to joining the Water Agency, Mr. Davis was Executive Director of The Bay Institute, a science-based nonprofit, dedicated to protecting the San Francisco Bay-Delta Watershed and improving water management in California.
“This is going to be a very important year in California for water,” Davis said. “I am confident that the Governor and the state are on a solid pathway forward. My home and passion is Sonoma County, and I am dedicated to helping the Water Agency achieve its ongoing goals while restoring our watersheds impacted by the wildfires.”