Editor’s note: At its Jan. 19 meeting, the Fern Valley Water District Board of Directors selected George Rowell as the fifth director. He
replaces Charles Wix, who resigned in 2017. Since Rowell did not campaign for the position, the Town Crier interviewed him so the community would have some knowledge of the new water director.
He will have to stand for election in two years for the remainder of the term.
Rowell, a retired private investigator, is a second-generation Californian who grew up in Long Beach.
He and his wife moved to Idyllwild almost five years ago from Orange County. But they have been part-time residents for years before the move. They have two grown children and three grandchildren.
Rowell, as a former private investigator, is curious and asks questions. Having known former Fern Valley General Manager Steve Erler for years, he knows something about the water district.
When the vacancy was announced in December, he was one of three applicants. All were impressive, but his future colleagues were attracted to Rowell’s community involvement and interest in learning about the district.
When asked about his priorities for FVWD, he did not address specific water projects. His interest, he said, is in the overall water situation on the mountain. As a homeowner, he easily recognizes water’s value to the residents, as well as its need if fire were to occur.
He also expects that his experience running a small business for 30 years may help the district’s management.
“What I’ve seen so far, it’s running very well and I’m impressed by the people,” he added.
One of his first steps was asking General Manager Victor Jimenez for a tour of the facilities. The extent of the infrastructure also impressed Rowell very much.
When asked the omnipresent Hill water question, “What’s your opinion about consolidation of three local water districts,” he replied, “I haven’t looked at it yet to give a good answer. In Orange County, there are a lot of small districts; but the smallest is way bigger than one of ours.”
He was appointed to the FVWD board after the recent rate changes, so he did not have a specific pro or con response, although his impression was the district has been below others for a number of years. He added, “I’ll see my water bill and hear other people talk.”
Regarding capital projects, Rowell said, “I’m on the fence about replacing the mainline right now. But upgrading the meters is no problem. That will probably help determine where the water losses are.”
And he restated his opposition, expressed at the March meeting, to expanding the field staff. “I’m coming at it from a business aspect,” he said.
After two months on the board, Rowell said, “I’m very pleased. I’m still in the infancy of learning, but I enjoy the board meeting. Everybody is very bright. I’m very impressed with how well run the district is.”