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Business, labor leaders applaud water czar’s efforts to fight drought

At a special ceremony in the state capital, California business, labor and public leaders gathered to honor the work of the state’s water czar in fighting the historic drought. Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, received the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Award from the California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance.

Describing Marcus’s accomplishments, CCEEB President Gerald Secundy praised Marcus for her efforts to transcend the state’s infamous water wars, saying “Felicia has found a way to balance the state’s economic needs with the dire needs of the environment. With a $2.7 billion hit to agriculture, more than 21,000 jobs lost, and no snow in the Sierras for the first time in known history, this is no small feat and deserves our recognition.”

In video remarks congratulating Marcus, Mary Nichols noted how successful the state has been in responding to the drought and conserving water, “Let’s face it, there really isn’t anybody else besides Felicia who could be heading up the state [water] board at a time when it is asserting its power in ways that it hasn’t done for years, and getting the kind of response that she is getting.” Nichols continued, “This is only possible because of many years of practice and hard work and a lot of skill on her part in bringing together people with different viewpoints, and helping them feel that they are part of the solution.” Mary Nichols, who chairs the state Air Resources Board, was a recipient of the Pat Brown Award in 2013.

Under Marcus’s leadership, the water board has overseen mandatory conservation efforts at urban water agencies and curtailment of century-old water rights. Governor Brown directed a 25 percent cut in water use last April. Since then, Californians have met and surpassed the state goal, with cities cutting use by more than 31 percent in July.

Accepting the prestigious award, Marcus remarked, “We’ve seen great victories in the drought, where people have risen above their parochial self-interests. We have seen people trying to make a difference.”

Beyond her efforts fighting the drought, Marcus is well known for her accomplishments in environmental protection. Marcus has held leadership roles at the Natural Resources Defense Council, Heal the Bay, and Trust for Public Land. Marcus has also headed the Los Angeles Department of Public Works and U.S. EPA, Region 9 during the Clinton Administration.

In addition to Mary Nichols, previous recipients of the Pat Brown Award include State Senator Fran Pavley, Tom Graff from Environmental Defense Fund, and Governor Schwarzenegger with Speaker Nuñez and pro Tem Perata.

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About the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Award

The Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Award is named after the late Governor Edmund G. Brown, the CCEEB’s founding Chairman. The award honors individuals whose achievements best exemplify CCEEB’s mission of environmental and economic balance.

Previous recipients include State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus, State Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols, State Senator Fran Pavley, the late Tom Graff of the Environmental Defense Fund, the Walt Disney Company, and Governor Schwarzenegger with Speaker Fabian Nuñez and pro Tem Don Perata.