Frazier: Gov’s choice to lead DWR is too beholden to water contractors she must regulate

Friday, March 2, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Employment records obtained from a recent Public Records Act request reveal that Karla Nemeth, Gov. Jerry Brown’s choice to head the Department of Water Resources (DWR), may have a conflict of interest that compromises her ability to objectively lead an agency tasked with managing the state’s massive water infrastructure on behalf of all Californians.

Documents suggest Nemeth was being paid by DWR and the Natural Resources Agency earlier in the decade while an employee of the Metropolitan Water District of California of Southern California (MWD) to shape water policy in favor of building the controversial tunnels project that threatens to destroy the Delta’s ecosystems. MWD has been the leading proponent for building the tunnels.

“As co-chair of the Legislature’s Delta Caucus and as a member and past chair of the Assembly Accountability & Administrative Review Committee, I am deeply concerned that the newly appointed director may have received compensation from MWD to work on promoting the Bay Delta Conservation Plan while also working for the Natural Resources Agency and DWR,” said Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay), who represents the 11th District, encompassing much of the Delta region. “For nearly a decade, Ms. Nemeth’s career focus has been on the past variants of the disastrous tunnel plans. This raises a huge red flag about her ability to prioritize the more pressing aspects of her role at DWR outside of her tunnel vision.”

“Management of an agency tasked with protecting and maintaining the state’s vast water resources, storage and delivery infrastructure is too important to be controlled by a director whose sole focus and career has been about ramming the catastrophic tunnels through the regulatory process on behalf of the governor and MWD,” Frazier added. “Delta residents deserve better. It does not serve California to have a DWR director who is indebted to the same water contractors she must hold financially accountable for repairs and maintenance to prevent catastrophic infrastructure failures like the collapse of the Oroville Dam Spillway. Lives are at stake.

“I am working with my colleagues in the Delta Caucus and the Assembly and Senate to identify what action we can take in the Legislature.”

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Assemblymember Frazier represents the 11th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Antioch, Bethel Island, Birds Landing, Brentwood, Byron, Collinsville, Discovery Bay, Fairfield, Isleton, Knightsen, Locke, Oakley, Pittsburg (partial), Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis AFB, Vacaville and Walnut Grove.

CONTACT: Andrew Bird (916) 319-2011

                        Andrew.Bird@asm.ca.gov