By Carol Tucker
For the first time in 25 years, a new general manager has been appointed from within the ranks of LADWP.
Martin L. Adams, a 35-year veteran of the Department, was nominated by Mayor Eric Garcetti in June to the Department’s top job, and appointed interim General Manager and Chief Engineer July 23 by the Board of Water and Power Commissioners. He was confirmed by the City Council on September 13, 2019.
“My heart and soul are in the Department,” Adams said during his confirmation hearing. “I have been dedicated to this organization for 35 years. I am as invested in its success, and the success of its employees as anybody could be.”
Adams is the first permanent general manager appointed to the position from inside LADWP since Daniel W. Waters, a long-time Power System manager, ran the Department from 1990 to 1994.
Adams said that coming from inside the Department will provide a strategic advantage that will benefit LADWP and its customers. “I have a tremendous sense for what works and what doesn’t at the Department. I have a great sense for the people who surround me, their capabilities, and what drives them. I have also spent 16 years in operations, so I know what makes things work in the field, what makes our employees tick, and what issues affect them positively or negatively.”
Besides being the first person appointed from within the ranks to lead the Department in decades, Adams is also the first in a generation to adopt the title of “General Manager and Chief Engineer.” Adams asked to have the original working title restored. “It meant a lot to me personally. I believe it meant a lot to folks in the Department,” he said. “It also resonates with the fact that the Department is a very technical organization. The title reminds us, as we blaze into the future, that we need to manage and harness technology so we can continue to serve the public.”
In a message to employees, Adams said, “There are many challenges ahead of us to tackle, along with great opportunities to lead and influence the industry as we make DWP the best public utility in the nation and the choice place to work.”
LADWP has been at the core of the city’s existence, and its ability to grow and thrive. “I believe our (LADWP’s) importance moving forward is every bit as critical today as it was historically—100-plus years ago—when we were building the Aqueduct and growing our Power System.” Moving forward, he said the Mayor has asked us to take a hard look at reducing reliance on imported water resources. “We learned through the drought that while imported water resources are an important part of the mix, relying on them for so much of our water supply is a failed policy,” he said.
There are equally tremendous challenges on the power side. The Mayor has set an aggressive timetable that will make the city a leader in fighting climate change. “When you’re in a leadership position, you have a strong obligation to set a good example and be successful. If we fail it will be very hard to convince the rest of the state, country or world there are things that can be done to change the energy industry to reduce impacts on climate.
“So we have to succeed, and succeed in a very smart way. Right now we are planning that path forward. We need to make sure everyone is in alignment. The end goal is clear – how you get there, and doing so in a meaningful way, is the entire battle.”
On both water and power fronts, Adams believes the goals are achievable and that LADWP’s talented employees will get the job done. “I think by pulling together we’ll get to exactly where need to be, and I think we will do it in a very good way.”