Valley Water to get new CEO

Rick Callender - Image courtesy of Valley Water website.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District, better known as Valley Water, is getting a new leader.

Valley Water, the largest water provider in the region serving 2 million residents across the county, named Rick Callender as the new chief executive. He will succeed current CEO Norma Camacho.

“Rick is the right person to be at the helm to continue to navigate us out of the COVID pandemic and play a key role in leading us to full economic recovery as a region,” said Camacho.

Callender is the former president of the local NAACP chapter and will be the first African-American CEO in the district’s history. He current serves as Valley Water’s head of external affairs.

Valley Water’s Board voted 4-3 to select Callender over three other finalists. His salary is set at $326,352 per year, starting with the July 11 entrance into his new role.

“What we do for Silicon Valley is vital, and I am looking forward to working with the Board and our employees to help lead this great organization to be even better,” Callender said in a statement.

Valley Water, like many water authorities across California, is facing a difficult future with tough questions around long-term water supply and major infrastructure needs. With 10 dams and reservoirs, three water treatment plants, and a water recycling and purification center, Valley Water has a significant footprint.

“There are many challenges ahead, and the board will work together with the new CEO to produce positive outcomes for the community,” said Board President Nai Hsueh.

The district faces a big test this fall when it must start draining Anderson Reservoir due to a federal order around the dam’s earthquake safety.