Mojave Water announces Tom McCarthy as new GM; Kirby Brill to retire in July

By on June 2, 2017

After 17 years at the helm of the Mojave Water Agency (MWA) General Manager Kirby Brill is set to retire on July 21. The MWA Board of Directors announced earlier this week they have selected Tom McCarthy, currently the Acting Engineering Manager/Chief Engineer and Water Resources Planning Manager for Anaheim Public Utilities, to serve as the agency’s new general manager.

“Tom McCarthy is a great fit for MWA,” said Kimberly Cox, MWA Board President. “He brings experience in geology, engineering, project management, and in water adjudication. Tom is also a proven leader. We are fortunate to have found someone with his unique skill set.”

In his position with Anaheim’s Public Utilities McCarthy was responsible for an annual operating budget of nearly $70 million; he also managed a five-year capital improvement budget of $120 million. His private sector experience includes serving as Project Technical Lead for all water resource projects based in the Southwest and leading multi-disciplinary teams from around the world for MWH Global Inc.

MWH Global Inc., a global water and natural resources firm, is known for providing technical engineering, construction services and consulting services. In 2016 the company became a part of Stantec which provides the engineering, construction, and management of some of the largest and most technically advanced water, hydropower, mining and transportation projects for municipalities, governments and multi-national private corporations throughout the world.

McCarthy is set to assume his new position on June 12. “This is an incredible opportunity to be a part of the Mojave Water Agency that has a growing statewide reputation for quality and innovation,” McCarthy said. “I am looking forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the region’s stakeholders and the excellent staff to meet the region’s future water challenges.”

MWA Board President Cox indicated that the retiring Brill leaves the agency well positioned for future water challenges.

“When Kirby joined MWA in 2000, the Agency’s reputation was less than stellar and its role was obscure as the Adjudication was in the early stages of implementation,” said Cox. “Kirby opened the doors to our stakeholders to be a part of shaping the region’s water future. Instead of being told what MWA was going to do, our stakeholders had a seat at the table and participated in key decisions that have helped drought-proof our region, and provide a platform of sustainable water management to support land use decisions in the communities we serve.”

During Brill’s tenure with MWA he oversaw capital investments in recharge projects in the Morongo Basin, Newberry Springs, and the Victor Valley including the Regional Recharge and Recovery project that delivers water from the California Aqueduct in Hesperia to recharge sites in the floodplain aquifer along the Mojave River in Hesperia and southern Apple Valley for later extraction. With Brill’s leadership MWA was able to make strategic water purchases, and initiated a science-based decision-making process by instituting a data collection and evaluation program for the region’s water supply to effectively manage each basin.

Brill oversaw various programs that saw per person water use in the region decrease by 48 percent through programs such as the Cash for Grass Program for homeowners and large institutions, replacement of water wasting home fixtures, as well as public education efforts. Education was also at the core of MWA’s award winning Small Water Systems Assistance Program which offers expertise to small systems to improve efficiencies, comply with new state regulations, and provide assistance with grant applications.

Brill has indicated that his departure is bittersweet. “I am proud of the work that we as a region have accomplished. Our Board of Directors had the courage to make tough decisions, and our staff has worked collaboratively and creatively to accomplish some high goals. I will miss working with such an extraordinary group of people. It’s truly been a blessing.”