Laguna Beach County Water District General Manager to Retire
Laguna Beach County Water District General Manager Renae Hinchey, who has helmed the District for the past 19 years, has announced her retirement effective Nov. 1, 2019.
“Renae has done an outstanding job serving this District for so many years, and her commitment to our community has been outstanding,” said District Board President Bob Whalen. “She helped build an organization focused on exceptional customer service and community involvement and put in place a number of programs and improvements that will benefit our city for years to come.”
Hinchey joined the District in 2000 after prior experience that included 10 years with Western Municipal Water District in Riverside County, 10 years in the private sector as head of Public Affairs and Marketing for TRW, and 8 years with Southern California Gas. She was the first woman to lead a water agency in Orange County. Her first task upon being hired was to ensure a smooth transition for the District while it went through the process of becoming a subsidiary District of the City of Laguna Beach. As a subsidiary, decisions effecting water rates, supply, distribution improvements, and governance remain local and in the hands of District ratepayers. “It was important to keep decisions that would impact District ratepayers local to Laguna,” says Hinchey. “Being protected under the umbrella of the city was a way to do that.”
Among the accomplishments she is most proud of is securing the District’s 1933 Judgment to groundwater rights in the Santa Ana River Basin, ensuring that more than half of the District’s water supply be provided locally. In 2016, after making three prior attempts, she reached an agreement with Orange County Water District to pump groundwater from the Santa Ana River Basin, ensuring a dependable, long-term water supply for future generations. “Securing these rights was hard fought but worth it,” stated Hinchey. “The benefits to District customers are significant, including mitigating the rising costs of imported water and increasing emergency water supplies from 5 days to more than 3 months.”
At their Sept. 12 meeting, the District’s Board announced that Christopher Regan, assistant general manager, will serve as the Interim General Manager until a permanent replacement for Hinchey is found.