New EPA Regional Administrator Tackles Water Needs with a Wealth of Experience and $1 Billion in Federal Funding

Martha Guzman recalls those awful days working on water and other issues as a deputy legislative secretary for then-Gov. Jerry Brown. California was mired in a recession and the state’s finances were deep in the red. Parks were cut, schools were cut, programs were cut to try to balance a troubled state budget in what she remembers as “that terrible time.”

She now finds herself in a strikingly different position: As administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 9, she has a mandate to address water challenges across California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii and $1 billion to help pay for it. Guzman called it the “absolutely greatest opportunity.”

Guzman talked with Western Water about how her past experiences are informing her work at EPA, some of the top priorities in EPA Region 9 and how the federal bipartisan infrastructure funding law is providing a unique opportunity to address the region’s water needs, including for tribal nations and disadvantaged communities.