New leadership is coming to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Owens Valley operations.
Current Manager of Aqueduct Systems Gene Coufal plans to retire in July and the LADWP announced this week that Jim Yannotta will take up Coufal’s post beginning July 1.
Coufal and Yannotta are currently working together to familiarize the future manager with the aqueduct system, which runs from Lee Vining to the San Fernando Valley.
Yannotta said he is spending three or four work days in the Owens Valley while also handling his duties in Los Angeles.
“The Eastern Sierra has long been one of my favorite places to visit and it’s where I am able to fulfill my passions for hiking, biking, snow shoeing and other outdoor activities,” Yannotta said.
Department Public Information Officer Chris Plakos added that Yannotta has completed five ascents of Mt. Whitney.
Yannotta, who has served as LADWP’s assistant director of Water Resources, said that community involvement and outreach is a critical part of the relationship between the LADWP and communities of the Eastern Sierra.
“The most important thing is working with the various groups in the Owens Valley to ensure we are meeting everyone’s needs,” he said. “I want to make sure we are working in partnership with the various groups.”
As the assistant director of Water Resources, Yannotta said he has been heavily involved with water conservation and recycling efforts and through those programs he has developed a working relationship with organizations like the Mono Lake Committee and Sierra Club.
“There are still a lot more people I need to become familiar with, but I’m working three or four days of the work week in Bishop or along the aqueduct” and getting to know more and more of the major players.
Yannotta said his goal as the LADWP aqueduct manager is to build on the bonds between the department and the community while meeting water needs in L.A.
“Along with our LADWP team, I am committed to meeting our environmental obligations in the Mono Basin and Owens Valley while optimizing water supply for Los Angeles,” Yannotta said in an open letter to the communities of the Eastern Sierra. “I am proud to be part of an organization that over the last 100 years has helped protect and preserve the open and undeveloped state of the Owens Valley and Mono Basin.”
Overall, Yannotta said he is excited to relocate to the Eastern Sierra and take up his new post.
“As I transition into my new position in the Eastern Sierra, I look forward to meeting and working closely with the many people and organizations associated with water issues in the Owens Valley and Mono Basin,” Yannotta’s letter states. “I hope you will take the opportunity to introduce yourself to me in the near future.”