Deputy Secretary Jerry Meral has announced his retirement from the California Natural Resources Agency at the end of the month in a letter addressed to Governor Brown.
Jerry Meral has served as the deputy secretary for nearly three years,charged with the difficult task of guiding the efforts to complete of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. Through the years, he has been the administration’s public face of the process, leading public meetings and giving presentations around the state, as well as working behind the scenes to address numerous issues with stakeholders.
In his letter to the Governor, Mr. Meral emphasized the importance of Governor Brown’s involvement in the BDCP. “Without the adoption of a proposed project by you and Secretary of Interior Salazar last year, it is unlikely that the state and federal water contractors would have had the confidence to continue to fund the BDCP program.”
“With the publication of the BDCP and the EIR/S in the federal register on December 13, the Plan should be completed and approved in 2014. While additional permits will be required, it is virtually certain that the plan will be implemented,” he writes. “I look forward to doing whatever I can in the future to support completion and implementation of a Bay Delta Conservation Plan which will achieve the co-equal goals of ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability, while fully respecting the values treasured by those who live, work, and recreate in the Delta.”
Phil Isenberg, Chair of the Delta Stewardship Council, said of his colleague,”In the fractured and contentious world of water, Jerry Meral stands out as someone who knows the facts, remembers the history, and is not afraid to tell people what they would rather not hear. Sure, he has his own policy positions, but what impresses me is his constant willingness to go out into hostile territory, and talk directly about BDCP and the water needs of California.”
“He has provided a powerful voice for the Governor on water policy, and it’s going to be very hard to replace him,” Mr. Isenberg added.
Jerry Meral has had a long career serving both in and out of state government in a variety of positions related to natural resources and the environment. Mr. Meral was director of the western water program of the Environmental Defense Fund in the 1970s; he served as the deputy director of the Department of Water Resources during the first Brown administration; after that he was executive director for the Planning and Conservation League until 2003. He led efforts in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s against the construction of large dams, helped to form Friends of the River and the Tuolomne River Trust, and has served on the board of the Sierra Fund and Restore Hetch Hetchy. Jerry Meral is an avid kayaker and considered a pioneer; Meral’s Pool, the start of many white water rafting trips on the Tuolomne River, is named after him.