Much of Southern California’s water comes from Northern California, the Sierra snowpack, and the Colorado River. One of the agencies tasked with making that happen is the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), headquartered in downtown LA by Union Station. Nearly 19 million people across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura counties depend on MWD for at least some of their water supply.
Hundreds of MWD workers have a new incoming leader: Adel Hagekhalil. He’s the outgoing head of LA's Bureau of Street Services. Before that, he was second-in-command at the city’s sanitation department.
“What worked for us in the last hundred years was great. But what we need is a fresh look. ... It’s not gonna be just about imported water. … It’s gonna be about local water supply, stormwater capture, all of the above,” Hagekhalil says.
LA Times reporter Sammy Roth has been covering the “bitter power struggle” that led to Hagekhalil’s hiring. Roth says that it wasn’t necessarily Hagekhalil’s fault that the fight was so contentious.
“He kind of got swept up in this power struggle between these different factions,” says Roth. “He was the candidate who was put into the ring with the support of Mayor [Eric] Garcetti in Los Angeles. And Garcetti’s appointees on the Metropolitan board and San Diego, the other major power center on Metropolitan, came out swinging for him.”
But after a very close vote on the board, Roth says, “I do think there’s gonna be grounds for folks to work together on this even after this bitter [sic] contested vote.”