The State Worker

He’ll lead state’s water department as it rebuilds Oroville Dam, restricts groundwater

Here's what Oroville Dam spillway repair work looks like as we pass mid-July

Recovery efforts continue on the Lake Oroville spillways project, with concrete being placed on the lower chute of the main spillway, and excavation and rock cleaning to prepare the spillway's foundation, July 18, 2017.
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Recovery efforts continue on the Lake Oroville spillways project, with concrete being placed on the lower chute of the main spillway, and excavation and rock cleaning to prepare the spillway's foundation, July 18, 2017.

A longtime Sonoma County water manager and environmental advocate is in line to lead the state Department of Water Resources, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Wednesday.

Brown appointed Grant Davis, the general manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency, to be the next director of the state water department.

Davis’s appointment follows a long search for a new director at the department. It was led for six months by former acting director Bill Croyle, who retired this month.

If confirmed by the state Senate, Davis will lead the department as it rebuilds the damaged emergency spillway at Oroville Dam and carries out new restrictions on groundwater pumping.

Davis has been a proponent of the groundwater pumping restrictions, telling a reporter in 2014 that groundwater pumping had been shown to sink farmland in the Central Valley and increase the risk of saltwater creeping into underground basins in other parts of the state.

“That’s bad,” Davis told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that year. “What we’re worried about is the depletion of groundwater, but also the salinity that would migrate up from the south, and we’re seeing evidence of that.”

Davis, 54, has led the Sonoma County Water Agency since 2009. He previously was its assistant director.

Before joining the water agency, Davis led a nonprofit organization that advocates for the conservation of the San Francisco Bay, called the Bay Institute. He was a senior aide to former U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma.

His salary as state water director would be $194,600.

Pumped concrete is being put down at Oroville Dam this week (July 11, 2017) as part of the new concrete foundation and drainage system for the Lake Oroville flood control spillway. Demolition and rock cleaning continues, as does work on the emerge

Angela Hart of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.

Adam Ashton: 916-321-1063, @Adam_Ashton. Sign up for state worker news alerts at sacbee.com/newsletters.

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