For Release February 11, 2003
WATER LEADER—GENERAL MANAGER—TO RETIRE
D. Burnell "Burnie" Cavender recently announced plans to retire on May 31, 2003, after serving as General Manager of the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District (“WCD”) for more than seven years. It was Cavender's responsibility to carry out the District's mission, to ensure the waters of the Santa Ana River and its tributary, Mill Creek, are put to beneficial use and conserved in the Bunker Hill Groundwater Basin (“Basin”). To accomplish this mission, Cavender provided leadership and management of the diversion of water from the Santa Ana River and Mill Creek into canals and basins, which allowed the water to percolate into the ground to replenish the underground water Basin. The Basin provides most of the water supply for the Cities of Redlands, Loma Linda, Highland, San Bernardino, and parts of Grand Terrace and Colton.
During Cavender’s tenure, the WCD changed its logo, its motto, its mission, its location, and its attitude. His leadership brought diverse water agencies in the valley together, working to assure high quality native water is retained in the valley for use, not exported to users outside the valley. Additionally, he has been the driving force to develop a Land Management and Habitat Conservation Plan for the Upper Santa Ana River Wash, a cooperative planning effort by cities, counties, water agencies, mining companies, state and federal wildlife agencies, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to assure a balanced land allocation amongst water conservation, mining of sand and gravel, and wildlife habitat uses.
The WCD also serves as project manager for the Santa Ana River-Mill Creek Cooperative Water Project, which provides oversight to transfers of Santa Ana River and Mill Creek waters, and imported water from the State Water Project. Under Cavender’s leadership, a daily log of water availability and deliveries was recorded and transmitted to all Co-op members, which stopped daily allegations and arguments about ownership of water. The San Bernardino County Superior Court appointed Cavender to the Big Bear Watermaster. During Cavender’s tenure, the annual Watermaster report to the Court was never late, and confrontation amongst the members was all but eliminated.
Concurrently, Cavender has been active in the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), serving on several committees, and in the Western Coalition of Arid States (WESTCAS), serving as a member of the Board of Directors and Committee and Task Force chairs.
Previous to managing the WCD, Cavender served more than 5 years as Deputy to the General Manager of the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority, and acting General Manager of the Lake Elsinore Management Authority. Earlier, he served more than 28 years in public works positions in the U.S. Air Force, retiring in the grade of Colonel.
WCD Board President, Sterling “Jack” Woodbury said, “Cavender's wealth of knowledge and experience will be greatly missed. He is a respected and trusted intermediary that assisted the District in building strong relationships amongst water agencies across the State and the local community.”