Agriculture

Amid shake-up, Westlands GM Birmingham to retire

Two weeks after a sweeping, overhaul election of its board and facing an imminent sacking, Westlands Water District’s chief executive is stepping down.

Wednesday, ahead of Thanksgiving, Westlands general manager Tom Birmingham announced his intention to retire by the end of the year.

Birmingham took the helm of the district in 2000.

“It has been my great honor to have been part of a dedicated team of District employees for more than 22 years. I am retiring with extreme pride in the things Westlands has accomplished over the last two decades, including settlement of drainage litigation, settlement of litigation concerning the allocation of water to pre-merger lands and merged lands upon the renewal of the District’s 1962 water service contract, acquisition of additional Central Valley Project water supplies through the assignment to the District of water service contracts, conversion of the District’s water service contracts to repayment contracts, implementation of a significant land retirement program to balance the demand for water with available supplies, implementation of water conservation programs, development of large scale renewal energy projects on District owned lands, construction of habitat restoration projects, and development of integrated water management programs,” Birmingham said in a statement.

Birmingham, a giant among the players in California’s water wars, faced certain ouster following this fall’s election in which a slate of four reform-minded candidates captured all open seats, leading to the ouster of the District’s board president, Ryan Ferguson.

This story will be updated.

Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.