15. Jeff Kightlinger
In nearly every California conversation about water, mention of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California invariably pops up. Rightly so, too: MWD has a $1.8 billion annual budget and 1,800 employees, and it wholesales water to more than two dozen agencies in six counties serving 19 million people. That’s a lot of water under the bridge, so to speak, and the key person at the tap is Jeff Kightlinger, MWD’s general manager and CEO. He’s been doing this for 12 years, and he’s been at or near the center of every important water spat for the past decade. The latest: The MWD board authorized putting up $10.8 billion for Gov. Brown’s beloved twin-tunnels project in the Sacramento-San Joquin River Delta, which means it may actually get built.
Updated Aug. 15, 2018