The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California today honored a water industry pioneer who helped transform Southern California's approach to water management, strengthening the region and better positioning it for the future.
Officials, family members and former colleagues came together to unveil a plaque dedicating the Carl Boronkay East Dam at Diamond Valley Lake in honor of Metropolitan's former general manager and general counsel.
"Southern California is stronger today because of the visionary leadership of Carl Boronkay," Metropolitan board Chairwoman Gloria D. Gray said. "During his tenure as general manager during the 80s and 90s, he led the way for the board to ultimately choose this site for what was then the Eastside Reservoir Project.
"He helped shepherd the project through the environmental review process, and brought to fruition the invaluable reservoir before us," Gray said. "Today, Diamond Valley Lake provides important recreational opportunities and crucial storage for Southern California, giving the region a vital lifeline in times of drought and emergency."
Diamond Valley Lake in southwest Riverside County was built by Metropolitan between 1995 and 1999, using three earth-and-rock-filled dams to enclose two adjoining valleys. The Carl Boronkay East Dam is 185 feet high and 2.1 miles long. The Don Owen West Dam is 285 feet high and 1.6 miles long, while the 130-foot-high "saddle" dam fills a half-mile-long dip in the mountains that ring the northwest side of the lake.
Boronkay joined Metropolitan as assistant general counsel in 1976 and was promoted to general counsel in 1980, and general manager in 1984. He served as Metropolitan's chief executive for nine years before retiring in 1993. Born in Bronx, New York, the father of two and grandfather of four passed away in 2017.
Remembered as a courageous leader who helped forge new paths and policies, he was also a mentor to many of his junior colleagues.
Among them was Timothy Quinn, Metropolitan's former deputy general manager, retired executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, and Landreth Visiting Fellow of Stanford University.
"Carl Boronkay was a true giant in California water management. At a time when it was critical to rethink how we manage water in the state, Carl seized the moment and changed the direction of water management, not only for Southern California but for the entire state and our region," said Quinn, who in his ACWA post submitted the nomination for Metropolitan to name a facility in his honor. In January, the Metropolitan Board of Directors voted to dedicate DVL's East Dam in Boronkay's name.
"On a more personal level, Carl was my mentor and the mentor of many other young professionals who have become leaders in California water," Quinn continued.
Metropolitan's General Manager and former General Counsel Jeffrey Kightlinger shared the sentiment, adding that Boronkay encouraged him to pursue the position he now holds.
"Carl was the first in a new generation of water leaders," Kightlinger said. "Until his time, the water industry was engineering-focused. He knew that we also needed to focus on water management. For Metropolitan, that meant we had to diversify our supplies and build a strong and adaptive water portfolio to meet future needs."
Under Boronkay's leadership, Metropolitan launched its Local Resource Program, which ushered in a new era of water recycling and groundwater recovery. The program fostered Metropolitan's investment of more than $500 million in local supply projects, strengthening the region against drought and climate change. Boronkay also was an early proponent of agriculture-urban partnerships.
"Our family is so proud of Carl for his leadership, vision and dedication to Metropolitan," said his son Drew Boronkay, who works as a risk management manager at Metropolitan. "We know that dad would be so happy and humbled to receive this honor, and would be the first to acknowledge the many great people who worked so hard to turn ideas like Diamond Valley Lake into realities."
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-established cooperative that, along with its 26 cities and retail suppliers, provide water for nearly 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.
Note to editors: Photos and video of the dedication ceremony are available.
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