Don Cortichiato

Spotlight on the Candidates: IWV Water District

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Don Cortichiato “I believe that long-range planning is critical,” said Don Cortichi-ato, an incumbent who is seeking reelection to one of three four-year-term seats on the IWV Water District’s board of directors. He has eight years experience on the board.

“I think I’m well trained to analyze facts and present those facts. I have the skills, commitment, energy and most importantly the time to devote to finding effective, economical and long-term solutions to our water challenges in the valley.”

Among the challenges facing the board are financial issues. “In the last five years, the district has run in the red three of those years. You cannot run a business in the red and expect to stay in business.

“The water district is a nonprofit special district, but you need to keep it healthy financially,” said Cortichiato. “About 25 percent of the district’s manpower was cut a year ago. It was extremely difficult, but it had to be done to cut costs and keep the district running. The people who were let go were all good employees.

“Manpower for the district is critical — I think our people are doing more with less and doing it very well.”

The water district’s mission is to provide quality water at an affordable rate. “Some of the major projects we have been working on are water conservation, pursuing alternative sources of water and alternative energy sources such as a photovoltaic power plant to meet the district’s electricity needs, a brackish water treatment pilot study, an arsenic treatment plant, a groundwater flow model, a groundwater banking study and proposal, a water supply improvement project, a new Well No. 34, a hydro-geological assessment of current and future wells and mainline replacement projects,” he said.

On our desert, conservation is critical, he said. “We’ve come up with some ordinances to help conserve. People need to grow appropriate plants and make use of xeriscape.”

Regarding the mandated arsenic treatment plant, he emphasized that “It was a major expense to do and it’s a continuing expense, but it’s critical.”

Maintaining infrastructure, storage tanks, fire protection and more are topics he can readily discuss. “I hope to be there when we are able to lower rates. That’s one of my goals,” he said.

Cortichiato came to our valley in 1971, right out of the University of California at Riverside, where he majored in business economics, to participate in China Lake’s Management Intern Program. He then moved up in the administrative area, retiring in 2004 after a 33-year career. “The base is an amazing place. It was exciting, and I learned new things all the time.”

He worked in labor relations, employee relations and safety and security, becoming the Safety and Security Department’s deputy head, in charge of about 250 employees. When he ended his career, he was doing mediation and was a certified hostage negotiator.

He and wife Erma have been married 40 years. Their five daughters were born and raised in Ridgecrest, and all are college graduates. Don and Emma have two grandchildren.

“My family and I have been very blessed living here in Ridgecrest, and it’s good to get involved and give back.”

Story First Published: 2012-09-19