To Help Navigate Looming Water Cuts, Imperial Irrigation Hires its Longtime Rival from LA

One of the West’s top water kingpins is back, and in an unlikely new spot.

Jeffrey Kightlinger, retired general manager for the powerful Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, has been hired as a consultant by the Imperial Irrigation District, which in the past has been his bitter rival on Colorado River policy. The contract comes at a critical juncture, as seven states and federal officials ramp up negotiations over a long-term agreement to keep the massive but dwindling river and its reservoirs functional. IID holds the rights to by far the largest share of that water.

Kightlinger, 63, said of his new client, “It’s an intriguing thing … IID is obviously a big player, and I’ve been doing this for a long time, so I think it could work out well for both of us. “