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🗣️ Water Leadership at the Largest Supplier of Treated Water in the US

The Water Values Podcast

Photo by Cedric Letsch / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Dave McGimpsey
Guest: Jeffrey Kightlinger | General Manager | The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
Category: 🗣️ Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[13:42] “I think what makes a good leader is really someone who can really think ahead, and that's what I think is necessary in the water business. Some things […] are sort of quarter to quarter, year to year, I think in our business, you have to really be thinking a decade ahead or more, maybe 25 years ahead. And so I think really playing the long game, not worried about a short term win in the political arena. But really thinking about what do we need to do for the next generation and really preparing and thinking about that. […] That ability to live in today's short term world and strategize way into the future, that's what is needed to be, in my mind, a good water leader.”

[14:58] “I think one of the more exciting things I've seen in my ten year as GM here is watching that whole new generation of millennials and Xs and Ys starting to come into the workforce. […] I've been particularly gratified to see a lot of women moving into the water world. And so I see those gaps as being filled. […] I see the high appointees now on water in the Biden administration, Tanya Trujillo, and Camille Touton. […] And I think that's a really promising thing for water and infrastructure business.”

[28:02] “One of the biggest surprises I've seen, and I think it's a worrisome challenge for all of us, is that water used to be pretty common ground. And the differences were, sometimes you had agricultural and urban […] at odds with each other. Sometimes we'd be at odds with environmental groups. But by and large, everyone kind of understood, this is a basic necessity, and we have to solve the problems. And then it was more a matter of how you pay for it and how you share it. But there was a pretty common understanding that this did need to be solved. And it was fairly non partisan. […] And I've seen it in recent times become more partisan and become sort of red and blue and become more divisive. And maybe that's just something that reflects the rest of the country […]. But I have been surprised to see that happen in water, and how different states will have different views on it […] depending on the politics.”

[29:46] “I watched Australia when they kind of hit the wall, really took a […] hard look and made adjustments to their governance regime. But that was extremely painful, and very, very difficult and basically took making water a national election issue. And so I would hope that we manage to keep ahead of the curve and not get to that point where we have to make a massive regime overhaul. And by and large, I think the water managers in the West have been able to do that. […] And so […] I believe we can make the current governance regimes work as long as people understand that […] failure is not an option. […] We should not be ending up in court and not solving the issues.”

[37:02] “Metropolitan is a very unique agency. […] We cover portions or all of six counties in Southern California. So it doesn't really have a political boundary. You don't have to belong to Metropolitan people, agencies and cities belong to Metropolitan because it's cost effective to band together, because water infrastructure is hugely expensive. So we're a voluntary collective, to do big things and to deliver water on a massive scale. We deliver water to 19 million people. That's one in every two Californians. That's one in every 16 Americans. And so we do a massive, huge job.”

[38:22] “[At] Metropolitan, because of its size and scale, the decisions we make impact the rest of California. And if you impact California, with the fifth largest economy in the world, you impact the rest of the country. And so we have to be mindful of where we fit in that role. […] Our responsibility goes just beyond our geographic footprint. The decisions we make ripple up and down the Central Valley to our entire agricultural economy, to how we manage water throughout the state, and in the West, on the Colorado River. […] We need to make sure we're not harming others in pursuing our own interest, because we're all in this together. And if […] Las Vegas isn't thriving, or the Central Valley isn't thriving, that ripples back to us.”

Rating: 💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify (Original Title: "An Exit Interview with Jeffrey Kightlinger")
🕰️ 43 min | 🗓️ 08/03/2021
✅ Time saved: 41 min