The California Department of Water Resources named Karla Nemeth as a new director on Wednesday.
Grant Davis resigned as DWR’s director after seven months o taking over the embattled department that is under intense scrutiny following the near-failure of Oroville’s emergency spillway.
Davis will go back to his old job as general manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency.
Gov. Jerry Brown immediately named Karla Nemeth, whom was deputy secretary and senior adviser for water policy at the California Natural Resources Agency since 2014 and an agency employee since 2009, as Davis’ successor.
Brown’s office said that Nemeth’s appointment was part of a general restructuring of the leadership of DWR, which runs the State Water Project and owns Oroville Dam.
“California’s most severe drought recorded history was interrupted by one of the wettest seasons on record, putting extreme pressure on our flood control infrastructure and exposing vulnerabilities. This new team will help the state better prepare for ever-greater challenges to our infrastructure and flood management systems, and ensure that California is doing everything possible to ensure dam and flood safety. Natural Resources Secretary John Laird said in a prepared statement.
Davi’s departure represents something of a shocker. He was scheduled to appear at a legislative oversight hearing on Oroville Wednesday morning at the Capitol, but was represented instead by DWR’s chief deputy director. His departure was announced about an hour after the hearing ended.
At the legislative hearing, the leader of the panel warned of “ticking time bombs” in the dam industry and said inspections must be overhauled.
DWR officials at the hearing pledged to do better, but said they need additional personnel and other resources to step up the inspection process.