Ms. Heather Dyer is the Chief Executive Officer/General Manager at the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District. As the CEO, she launched a transformation of the regional water agency focusing on developing a culture of empowerment, innovation, and maximum impact in the region. Prior to becoming CEO in 2019, Ms. Dyer worked as the agency’s in-house endangered species biologist, with expertise in fisheries and river ecosystems. In the first three years as leader, she has completed the District’s first-ever Strategic Plan, rebranded the nearly 70-year-old organization, spearheaded regional cooperative efforts to build over $400 million of local water infrastructure, and is nearing completion of the Upper Santa Ana River Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), a regional environmental program that will protect 22 native species of the Santa Ana River. Her priorities at the agency continue to be long-term water supply reliability by optimizing both local (Southern California) and Statewide water projects on behalf of future generations.
Ms. Dyer holds a B.S. in Resource Biology and M.S. in Marine Biology. Ms. Dyer earned an Executive MBA at the Peter Drucker School of Management, Claremont Graduate University in May 2019 and continues trailblazing new paths for her agency, the Santa Ana River watershed, and the State of California.
Organization Type: Regional Water & Resource Management Agency.
Water Supply: California State Water Project, Santa Ana River and its tributaries water, recycled water.
Population Served: 700,000.
Water Users: Seven Oaks Dam, located near Highland CA, currently does not have storage space allocated for water supply with the authorized purpose of the dam being flood risk management. San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (San Bernardino Valley), the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), local flood control agencies, and other stakeholders are evaluating Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) coupled with enhanced groundwater recharge downstream of the dam.
Total Storage Volume: Flood risk management storage volume is approximately 145,000 Acre Feet.
The key issue/challenge faced by our region is drought. Since 1945, we have experienced two droughts lasting 20 years, or longer. We are currently in the midst of a drought that began in 1998. Our agency was formed to help our region overcome the effects of drought by obtaining a supplemental water supply which we initially accomplished through investment in the State Water Project (SWP). We are committed to the long-term viability and sustainability of the SWP supply through our additional investment in both the proposed Delta Conveyance infrastructure project which will protect against the potential effects of sea level rise and earthquakes along with the proposed Sites Reservoir which will provide much-needed additional storage space to capture additional supply.
In recognition of the changing climate and hydrologic cycles, over the last 10-15 years we have made significant investments in securing additional sources of supplemental supplies including capture of stormwater and development of treated wastewater for groundwater recharge. As a complement to our investment in the SWP, we are committed to building a diverse water portfolio and actively investing in the optimization of our local resources such as pursuing FIRO to facilitate recharge of the groundwater basin downstream of Seven Oaks Dam; by strategically managing releases from the Seven Oaks Dam we can enhance the groundwater recharge downstream thus saving wet-year water for future use during droughts.
Challenges include environmental factors related to endangered species and complex overlap of jurisdictional authority. For example, multiple parties are involved in the FIRO process because the Seven Oaks Dam is a Section 7 dam, operated by three flood control districts and requires USACE approval for any change to the Water Control Manual.