In the News

Menard named new Santa Cruz water director

By J.M. Brown, Santa Cruz Sentinel, 1/17/14

SANTA CRUZ -- City Manager Martín Bernal announced the appointment Thursday of Rosemary Menard, a former Reno, Nev.-area water resources official, to be Santa Cruz's new water director.

Menard, 62, has more than 30 years experience in water planning and management, as well as regulatory and environmental issues, Bernal said. She will start Jan. 27 and be paid $159,984 annually.

"We are very pleased to have Ms. Menard come aboard at a critical point in our water supply discussions," Bernal said in statement. "She brings a wealth of leadership and experience in water operations, conservation, administration and policy to our organization.

Menard was selected from among 54 applicants, only two of whom were local. Interim Water Director Linette Almond, who was appointed to the post in August after longtime director Bill Kocher retired, was not a candidate for the permanent assignment.

Menard served in two leadership positions within Washoe County, Nev., government before resigning her post in March 2013. Since then, she has worked remotely for the San Jose-based Management Properties consulting firm and resided at a family cabin in Calaveras County.

In an interview Thursday, Menard said she pursued the Santa Cruz job because "I feel like the kind of strategic and analytical and public participation experience I have lend themselves to tackling big thorny issues."

Menard takes the post as Santa Cruz undertakes a new public-led study of how to manage its drought-prone water supply for 90,000 customers with an eye toward long-term sustainability. Since 2005, the Water Department has been following a City Council directive to pursue seawater desalination as a primary water supply project, but in November the council suspended the controversial joint project with Soquel Creek Water District amid growing political opposition.

Menard said she expects to spend her first few months on the job "listening and learning."

"I don't have an outcome in mind," she said. "I am going to sit and talk with people so I can get my arms around what is going on in the community."

Previously, Menard served in various management positions in the Portland (Ore.) Water Bureau and Seattle Water Department. As recently as last month, she was a candidate to head the Incline Village, Nev., General Improvement District.

In Washoe County, in the far northwestern corner of Nevada and includes Reno, Nev., and the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, Menard led the consolidation of the county's water utility with the Truckee Meadows Water Authority. She also helped to combine several county offices, including public works, parks and building and safety, into a single division.

Menard has received the Distinguished Service Award by the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies. The San Leandro native received bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Washington and has a son who lives in Portland.

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WHO: New Santa Cruz water director, previous administrator in Washoe County, Nev., and water departments in Portland, Ore., and Seattle

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in zoology, master's degree in public administration from University of Washington

FAMILY: Son, parents and six siblings

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