Water managers deal with huge geographical areas, huge quantities of water, and huge responsibilities. In this issue of Municipal Water Leader, we take a look at the big-picture thinking that is required to successfully manage these challenges.

In our cover story, we speak to Matt Stone, the general manager of the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency, a new entity created through an ambitious merger of several large water agencies north of Los Angeles. Mr. Stone tells us about the multiyear project of relationship building, problem solving, and detail-oriented planning that led to the creation of the agency, all based around the question, “If, historically, there had been just one integrated water retailer and wholesaler in the valley, how would it have been organized?”

The same spirit of big-picture thinking permeates the other agencies and programs we feature this month. Scottsdale Water responded to the challenge of the 1980 Arizona Groundwater Management Act by creating a unique Water Campus facility that provides the city with drinking water while also returning more ultrapure water to the regional aquifer than it removes. The Colorado River Water Users Association, in the same part of the country, coordinates the efforts of seven states and an Indian tribal organization to manage the Colorado River— an especially pressing task in these days of drought. We also speak with two scientists from the University of Wisconsin– Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences about the quagga mussel, an invasive species that has permanently changed the ecology of the Great Lakes and is now reaching the water bodies of the West.

Finally, we speak with Officer Phil Ball of the Situational Awareness Institute. We all know that the day-to-day professional responsibilities of water managers are huge— but Officer Ball reminds us that managers also need to pay attention to employee safety and security. Big-picture thinking goes beyond ecosystems and watersheds—it involves managing all aspects of a workplace as well.

We hope you find this issue of Municipal Water Leader challenging and inspiring.

Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Municipal Water Leader and Irrigation Leader magazines. He is also president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations, marketing, and publishing company he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at Kris.Polly@wateretrategies.com