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State Water Resources Control Board Names New Executive

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Sacramento, CA– The State Water Resources Control Board has officially appointed Eric Oppenheimer as its incoming executive director, succeeding the retiring Eileen Sobeck. The decision comes after a competitive selection process, with Oppenheimer bringing over 25 years of experience to lead the board’s managerial, programmatic, and administrative functions.

Currently serving as one of the State Water Board’s chief deputy directors, Oppenheimer has addressed key policy priorities over the past eight years. His expertise spans include developing solutions for the Bay Delta, implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, advocating for racial equity, promoting water conservation, and overseeing water rights administration.

Eileen Sobeck, is set to retire in December after seven years with the board and almost 45 years of public service. Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the board, expressed gratitude for Sobeck’s contributions, emphasizing her role in guiding the board through challenges such as the pandemic, historic drought, and numerous groundbreaking initiatives. Esquivel stated, “As we continue implementing these major priorities and facing the new challenges that climate change presents, Eric’s deep knowledge and practical experience with the regional boards and executive branch will guide our work effectively, equitably, and with the urgency this moment requires.”

With a background as an environmental scientist, Oppenheimer began his career in water quality protection roles with the Lahontan and Central Valley regional water boards. His journey also includes positions at the Department of Water Resources and the California Coastal Commission. As chief deputy director, he has served as a principal policy advisor and has overseen a team of over 500 technical and administrative staff.

Expressing his commitment to the new role, Eric Oppenheimer commented, “I am honored to serve in this new capacity and committed to helping the board advance its goals while balancing diverse perspectives and prioritizing racial equity. Active engagement by all stakeholders in the board’s decision-making processes will be key to its success in meeting the challenges of our 21st-century climate.”

Eric Oppenheimer is set to assume his new responsibilities as executive director starting January 2, 2024.