New MWD general manager praised as a “visionary and inclusive leader”

For Immediate Release: June 1, 2021

Caty Wagner, Sierra Club, 203-988-3584
Conner Everts, Southern California Watershed Alliance, 310-804-6615

Los Angeles – Western Tribes, water, climate, and social justice groups are praising the Southern California Metropolitan Water District (MWD) Board of Directors’ choice of Mr. Adel Hagekhalil to be the next general manager of the state’s largest and most powerful water district.

In a letter to the board, the coalition states:
“This is the right choice during this time to heal the organization and prepare our region in the face of persistent drought and changing climate. We look forward to partnering with you and the new GM on creating a healthy, safe and collaborative work environment at MWD.”

More groups are joining the coalition each day.

Conner Everts, Southern California Watershed Alliance said:
I see a clear choice for MWD. Will they be a water agency of the past with more outdated, expensive, bloated infrastructure projects, or a water agency of the future, with cost-effective local programs that provide jobs and immediate drought response? Adel Hagekhalil will provide the change that is needed at MWD drawing from his extensive experience delivering programs and being inclusive.

Charming Evelyn, Sierra Club said:
We at Sierra Club look forward to working with Adel Hagekhalil and hope that the LA Times report is just a momentary lapse of judgement with some of the Directors looking to overturn a democratic vote. There is a lot of work to be done in changing  MWD to meet future water needs – changing its business model to invest more in local water infrastructure and conservation particularly in under-resourced/fenceline communities and businesses respectively. Last but certainly not least, inviting our Indigenous People to have a seat at the table.

Bruce Reznik, LA Waterkeeper said:
In our work with Mr. Hagekhalil, he has worked tirelessly to upgrade LA’s aging sewage infrastructure, pursue multi-benefit stormwater capture projects, and implement LA’s innovative One Water program; his willingness to engage with communities in pursuit of holistic water planning for the region will serve him – and all Californians – well as the head of the Metropolitical Water District.

Caty Wagner, Southern California Water Organizer for Sierra Club CA said:
Metropolitan Water District needs to head in a direction that will not only keep up with the 21st century, but set an example in the industry, of innovation, adaptation to climate change, and of collaboration and community engagement. Adel Hagekhalil is an exemplary choice to lead MWD into an era of local water projects, local jobs, and sustainable futures.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta said:
We look forward to working with Adel Hagekhalil for the future of the Delta. We have arrived at this conclusion based on the advice of partners we trust in Southern California. We follow their lead and support their assessment.

Mr. Hagekhalil’s water experience and history of inclusion are cited in the letter.

“In his 32 years of public service in the management of water, environmental and infrastructure initiatives, Mr. Adel Hagekhalil has proven to be a visionary and inclusive leader. He led the award-winning LA integrated water resources plan and the 2040 One Water LA plan. His stakeholder-driven integrated water planning led the way to the implementation of the ongoing large water recycling projects and the stormwater capture efforts in the City of Los Angeles. He helped lead several successful water measures, including groundbreaking Measure W and Prop O stormwater measures that were overwhelmingly approved by voters in LA County and the City of Los Angeles, respectively. He led the resolution of the litigation over sewer system overflows, overseeing the creation of a world-class sewer system and reducing sewer overflows by more than 90% in the City. He has also led many climate adaptation efforts including integrating shade, shelter, equity and stormwater capture into active transportation projects.  And he has done this while engaging and building trust with nonprofit groups and local communities.”

Groups signing on to the letter include:
Amigos de los Rios, Angeles Chapter Water Committee Chair, Azul, Better World Group Advisors, California Coastal Protection Network, California Coastkeeper Alliance, California Indian Environmental Alliance (CIEA), Clean Water Action, Climate Resolve, Desal Response Group, EJCW, Environmental Water Caucus, Food and Water Action, Friends of the River, Great Basin Water Network, Kootenai Environmental Alliance, Los Angeles Waterkeeper, Nature for All, OurWater LA Coalition, Restore the Delta, San Diego Coastkeeper, San Francisco Baykeeper, Save the Colorado, SEE-LA (Social Eco Education-LA), Sierra Club, South Platte River Waterkeeper, Southern California Watershed Alliance, Western Water Strategies

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