Denise L. Kruger, senior vice president, Regulated Utilities at Golden State Water Company, recently assumed the position of chair of the Board of Trustees at the Water Research Foundation (WaterRF). She was elected to the chair at the January 2013 board meeting and her term became effective immediately following the recent June 8 board meeting.

Water Technology spoke with Kruger about her goals and experience in the industry.

Please share a little about your background and experience in the water community and with the Water Research Foundation (WaterRF).

I have more than 25 years of professional experience in the water industry. I currently serve as the Senior Vice President, Regulated Utilities at Golden State Water Company (Golden State Water) which provides water service to 255,000 customers and electric service to 23,000 customers in California. In that role I oversee all Regulated Utilities functions including Water Operations, Asset Management, Environmental Quality, Customer and Community Relations, Customer Service, Water-Use Efficiency, Water Resources and Regulated New Business.

I joined Golden State Water in 1992 as Manager of Quality Assurance and Water Quality. In 1998, I was appointed to the position of Vice President, Water Quality. I then served in various executive roles in Water Operations before being appointed Senior Vice President, Regulated Utilities.

I also hold a Board seat on the California Foundation for the Environment and Economy, represent Golden State Water at the National Association of Water Companies and previously served as Chair of the American Ground Water Trust.

 

You recently assumed the position of chair of the Board of Trustees at WaterRF. What did it mean to you to be elected at January’s board meeting?

I have served on the Board since 2005 and as its Vice Chair since 2010. Since that time I have seen first-hand the tremendous wealth of knowledge and expertise represented on the Board of Trustees and staff at the Foundation. It truly does comprise the best and brightest in the water utility sector. To be elected by my peers to serve as the Foundation’s Board Chair for the next three years, at a time when the water community is facing significant challenges, is both humbling and exciting.

 

What are the challenges facing water utilities that you and WaterRF are helping subscribers address?  

The water community is facing a number of challenges, some of which are long-standing and others that are emerging. The long-standing issues that we have been addressing and will continue dedicating resources to, include the overall age and integrity of our country’s infrastructure, the quality and quantity of our water supplies, escalating operational and capital costs, and meeting increasing state and federal water standards.

In addition, many new issues are emerging. For example, as our water testing technologies become ever more sophisticated we are able to detect trace amounts of a greater number of contaminants. The questions we and others interested in this field wrestle with include: What should be the proper level of treatment? What treatment technologies exist and are they affordable?

Weather events are also growing areas of concern. Whether you are in a region that is suffering from drought or flood, there are significant implications to water utilities. Managing these changing environmental conditions pose challenges in unchartered territory and require long-term planning based on scientifically sound research.

And finally, in response to a growing population, increasing residential, commercial and manufacturing demands for water, the water community needs to reassess the very nature of “source water.” In fact, we are moving to adopting a “one water” view where all water is a potential source of drinking water. This includes reuse which is already practiced in many areas of the country, but will become far more prevalent in the years to come.

The water community is facing a number of challenges. To overcome them, reliable and relevant research is going to be of critical importance.

 

In your new role, what goals are you and WaterRF planning to achieve in coming years?  

As in years’ past, we are committed to maintaining the Water Research Foundation’s position as the premier source for stakeholders seeking reliable and relevant research to make sound policy, operations, and planning decisions.  WaterRF’s Focus Area Program addresses 10 of these broad issues in a systemic way while our Emerging Opportunities and Tailored Collaboration Programs provide us the flexibility to target critical issues surgically.

In addition, the Foundation will continue to actively collaborate with other parties, including government agencies, research organizations, consultants, environmental groups and others, to share information about the value of water and the water industry. Water Research Foundation is tackling significant challenges on behalf of its membership. This is an exciting time to be at the Foundation, and I look forward to serving as its Chair for the next three years.