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Water board honors outgoing president

Castaic Lake Water Agency wastes no time getting back to work in new year

Posted: January 5, 2009 9:33 p.m.
Updated: January 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.

R.J. Kelly and Peter Kavounas hold the two top posts at the Castaic Lake Water Agency after its board of directors named them president and vice-president respectively Monday night.

The board's biannual election of candidates to the agency's two top seats preceded a tribute to outgoing President William Pecsi for the work he's done over the past four years.

"I was very honored by this board putting me in this position. It was actually quite scary," said Pecsi, having received a glass-engraved award for his service. "It was a daunting task and I came to realize that you don't have to be the biggest and brightest, you have to have a really good team."

Building tenure as a two-term president was a hard-fought series of challenges for Pecsi in a rapidly growing community that saw diminishing resources.

Pecsi steered the agency through some of its most turbulent times, responding to a statewide drought proclaimed last summer, a drastic reduction in water delivered to Santa Clarita Valley via the State Water Project because of a court ruling and a flurry of lawsuits levelled by environmental groups challenging, among other things, the agency's assessment of available groundwater.

He consistently ensured that annual operating expenditures did not exceed the annual budgets, according to agency General Manager Dan Masnada.

As well, Pecsi expanded the agency's recycled-water facilities to an ultimate capacity of 17,000 acre-feet per year, he said.

Kavounas was elected eight ballots to two, running against board member Thomas P. Campbell.

Kelly, who was re-elected to the board in November and who served as vice-president, was the sole nominee for president and was elected unanimously.

"We recognize tonight a gentleman who did an exceptional job in these four years," said Kelly of Pecsi.

"He tackled many big problems and tackled them well."

Pecsi, named by The Signal as one of Santa Clarita Valley's 51 Most Influential people of 2008, continues to devote his life to managing issues that relate to water distribution.

When he moved to California from Philadelphia, Pecsi brought with him vast managerial experience involving storm water management and flood control.

In 1986, he joined the Metropolitan Water District in Los Angeles, where he was responsible initially for potable water issues and, later, broader issues of water conveyance.

On Monday, he and other board members wasted no time getting down to business with two weighty meetings scheduled back-to-back on the first Monday of the new year.

The year's first full board meeting highlighted by the election of its top officials was followed immediately Monday with a special meeting of the board's Financing Corporation.

Four incumbent board members who won seats on the agency in November were sworn into office Monday night.
B.J. Atkins - new to the board but an old hand at Newhall - replaced Barbara Dore as liaison director representing the Newhall County Water District.

"The term of the appointment is four years and her term is up," Atkins said about Barbara Dore.

"I've got big shoes to fill," Atkins said. "I like to think I represent the constituents of the Newhall County Water District. I can certainly take the interests of our district to the agency."

Atkins served as a board member of the Newhall County Water since 2005 and remains a champion of sustainability.

"We are very interested in the interaction between the CLWA and the Department of Water Resources with regards to how the (San Joaquin) Delta is to be sustained," he said.

Sustainability remains the cornerstone of Atkins Environmental HELP (Hazard and Environmental Liability Professionals) Inc., the company that Atkins helped found in 1987 to help companies meet environmental requirements.


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