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Greg Norby

November 2, 2012

 

We’re going to miss Greg Norby around here.

As the manager of the Mammoth Community Water District for four years, he ran the utility with aplomb, efficiency, and a sense of humor that hardly anyone ever got to see.

We were reminded of a Planning Commission meeting more than a year ago, when Norby gave the commissioners the bad news about the then-upcoming litigation with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

It was a sobering presentation, at a time when Mammoth really did not seem ready for another load of lawsuits.

But Norby did well that day with his dire news, ending it with a small diatribe about Mammoth’s “sprinklers to nowhere.”

He was good-natured about it—even funny. His problem was that Mammoth’s condo managers, single-family homeowners, and second homeowners had somehow missed the boat on managing their water usage.

After he and his staff went door-to-door and coerced the owners and managers to fix their sprinklers, pointing them in the right direction (i.e. toward the grass) and giving them tips on how to fix the infrastructure underground, something of a miracle happened.

You may not have noticed, but in this past summer there were fewer roads being watered because of neglectful managers and property owners. You may not have noticed because there really wasn’t anything to notice.

Thanks, Greg, for that.

Thanks, too, for spearheading the solar project at the water district headquarters on lower Meridian Boulevard, and for the energy efficient work that is being done on the district’s behalf.

These projects are visionary. The reason why there has not been the usual Mammoth quibbling and public second-guessing is that Norby managed these things with a cool efficiency. That’s something we have admired, particularly in light of the disruptions and upheavals that have occurred in other parts of our town and county governments.

In Wendilyn Grasseschi’s news story dealing with Norby’s resignation (see P.1), board director Tom Cage’s quoted remarks remind everyone of the magnitude of the district’s loss.

It would take a stroke of luck if the next manager of the district follows Norby’s cool-headed way of doing things.

We don’t envy the next manager, though.

The LADWP litigation over water rights to Mammoth Creek could still be an expensive parade of lawyers, depositions, witnesses, judges, arbitrators, and so on.

It would be an easy leap to think that the impending legal morass would be one of Norby’s reasons for departing the mountains.

But that’s not true, as far as we can tell.

He is leaving us for personal reasons, to go to the Bay Area, where there are enough water issues to last a thousand years.

Those of us who have attempted relationships across the Sierra Nevada know what that’s all about. Once the snow closes the passes, it is as if a Granite Curtain blocks us from the Bay, to be re-opened in the spring—June if historical data holds water, so to speak.

We feel a little bit like Cage feels. We also wish Norby might have stuck around for 20 years or so.

Instead, he leaves behind a solid blueprint for his successor, both in handling the demons from the LADWP while paying close attention to the little things that make a difference to those of us who live here.

“Sprinklers to nowhere” is a good example of that.

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