Alexander R. Coate, architect of EBMUD's 30-year water supply plan, to be next general manager

After 15 years of the strong and steady leadership of Dennis M. Diemer, who successfully guided the District through drought and recession while securing a supplemental water supply to protect much of the East Bay from a severe drought, the East Bay Municipal Utility District Board of Directors are looking to one of their key managers, Alexander R. Coate, for a new generation of leadership.

The official appointment of Coate as General Manager will be presented to the Board for confirmation on January 25, 2011.

“We want to continue the strong leadership we have had for the last 15 years under our outgoing general manager,” said EBMUD Board President John A. Coleman. “The Board has a great deal of confidence in Alex and looks forward to working with him to maintain high quality water and wastewater services. We will be working with Alex to build on our strong record of protecting the Mokelumne River and fishery as well as developing new sources of renewable energy.”

Coate, came to EBMUD in 1993, as an associate engineer in the Wastewater Department’s Office of Reclamation, after working for more than 10 years with private legal and engineering consulting firms. A little more than a year on the job he began his advance, becoming the District’s manager of Environmental Compliance in May 1994. In that position he was very active in ensuring the District would meet rapidly emerging and stricter environmental standards. Three years later his role increased as he was named manager of Regulatory Compliance where he and his staff seemed to touch every facet of the District’s work assuring compliance, safety and security.

Then, in 2003, Coate became manager of the Water Supply Improvements Division, a group responsible for projects to provide new water for a growing East Bay population. He and his staff did much of the work to allow the historic Freeport Regional Water Project to become a reality.

Coate’s unit also developed critical pipe connections with local water districts for mutual aid to increase flexibility during future emergencies.

In 2007, well-known and respected within the District and the water community for his ability to get critical work done with a collaborative, team-oriented approach, Coate was appointed Director of Water and Natural Resources and his biggest challenge would come soon in mapping out a sound strategy for the District to supply water to its customers through the year 2040, known as the Water Supply Management Program 2040.

The multi-year effort to develop the plan included contacting city and county planning agencies throughout the District service area in Alameda and Contra Costa counties to get their projections on growth over the next three decades and how and where that growth was planned or expected to occur. After much careful analysis and many meetings with representatives from communities, stretching from the East Bay to the Sierra foothills, where most of EBMUD’s water emanates, Coate led the development of a plan to supply water to the District’s customers through the year 2040.

The plan took into account much of the water would come from increasingly aggressive water conservation and recycling efforts in the service area. It outlined plans for water transfers, potential regional partnerships and other innovative ways to meet not only EBMUD’s water needs in the future but to do so economically and in concert with the needs of neighboring communities. But the plan did meet opposition when it addressed a possible need for a future water supply that might lead to a regional water project that would involve expanding EBMUD’s Pardee Reservoir.

The first major challenge Coate faces is how to resolve the budgetary concerns raised by water sales – 15 percent below projections – and the still slumping economy.

“We’re going to get through this financial challenge and put a sharp focus on key issues of importance to the District,” said Coate.

Coate, who attended high school in San Francisco, has a Bachelor of Arts in Neurobiology and a Masters of Science in Civil/Environmental Engineering, both from U.C. Berkeley. Coate, 50, resides in Lafayette with his wife and two children.