Safety and preparation are two sides of the same coin. A water agency always needs to be thinking about the future in order to prevent possible mishaps and to promote strong and sustainable growth. This issue focuses on proactive plans to build infrastructure, seek grants, and pursue strategic mergers, and on safety and training measures that aim to ensure that this development occurs in the most secure way possible. 

In our cover interview, we speak with General Manager Andy Fecko of California’s Placer County Water Agency about the infrastructure and relicensing tasks the agency is tackling at the moment and why infrastructure work promises to be an important part of the economic recovery after the turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also speak with John Ward and Bonnie Wright of Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County, California, about their agency’s grant and loans program, which pulls in 25–50 percent of the district’s total funding and has played a key role in several recent infrastructure programs. 

Focusing squarely on operational safety, we speak with Mickey Chaudhuri and Dan Guillory of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the nation’s largest water wholesaler, about how the agency proactively addresses a huge array of safety concerns—including injury prevention, hearing and respiratory protection, high-voltage electrical safety, and much more—and promotes employee buy-in through employee-run safety committees, training, and manager-employee collaboration. We also talk to Kris Hopping of Desert Water Agency, centered in Palm Springs, California, about that agency’s safety training and supervisory training programs and how it handles succession planning. 

Northwest Pipe, North America’s largest manufacturer of steel water pipe systems, recently announced its acquisition of Geneva Pipe Company. We speak with President and CEO Scott Montross and Vice President Mike Wray about this strategic acquisition and the benefits it stands to bring to Northwest Pipe. 

We also speak with Jack Stevens, the president of Tarrant Regional Water District’s (TRWD) board of directors. Mr. Stevens’s fascinating background includes time working on space shuttle components and military aircraft. After retiring from his engineering career, Mr. Stevens turned his attentions to public service as a member of TRWD’s board. He tells us about how the Texas district is planning for the future amid rapid population growth and urbanization. 

At the forefront of all our minds is the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications for safety. Municipal Water Leader and its sister publication, Irrigation Leader, will be publishing special, online-only issues focusing exclusively on how water professionals are overcoming the challenges of the pandemic. I invite you to keep your eyes on our website and social media accounts for this important forthcoming information. 

Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Municipal Water Leader magazine and president and CEO of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm 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