Calexico native Celeste Cantú named director of state water board

April 19, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Calexico native Celeste Cantú has been named executive director of the State Water Resources Control Board.

"I am particularly thrilled to work with an agency with renown and the technical knowledge of water and water rights," Cantú said Wednesday, adding she looks forward to the opportunity to work with a new board and new general counsel. "I feel very fortunate to be able to work with them to embrace the challenges of the 21st century."

As executive director, Cantú, 46, is tasked with planning, organizing and directing all activities of the state board, including statewide policy development and coordinating efforts with the nine state Regional Water Quality Control Boards.

The state board is processing the so-called petition for approval of the water transfer between the Imperial Irrigation District and the San Diego County Water Authority. The regional boards oversee the development, implementation and enforcement of the total maximum daily load water-quality program.


Cantú said her involvement in the transfer and TMDLs gives her a sense of working close to home again.

"I feel like this work is close to me," she said.

Locally, Imperial Irrigation District General Manager Jesse Silva, said the direction in which Cantú will take the agency will be good. He also said his brother, Peter Silva, a state board member, expressed confidence in Cantú as well.

Meanwhile, in a prepared statement, state board Chairman Art Baggett Jr. said Cantú arrives with proven dynamic leadership and strategic decision-making skills.

"We're very fortunate to have someone like Cantú, who has local, regional and legislative experience, coupled with the working knowledge of some of the key issues facing the board," Baggett's statement says.

The state board is an agency under the California Environmental Protection Agency.

CalEPA Secretary Winston Hickox, also in a prepared statement, said with a new board and new executive director, there will be a new vision for the future of California water policy.

"This appointment reflects Gov. Gray Davis' commitment to innovative government and water resource protection," Hickox said.

Cantú was appointed by the board Monday. Her appointment is at the pleasure of the board, and she is the first woman to hold the executive director position, according to state board spokeswoman Myrlys Stockdale.

Cantú was born and raised in Calexico. She served for 12 years as executive director of the Imperial Valley Housing Authority as well as planning director for the city of Calexico.

For 26 months she served as the state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture director of rural development. She briefly served most recently as the chief consultant to the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy.

The position pay $112,656 yearly.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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