BioToday, the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners announced its selection for the new general manager of the Long Beach Water Department (LBWD), current director of Gas and Oil for Long Beach, Christopher Garner. 

In a release issued this afternoon, the Board announced its pick of Garner, who will replace the current LBWD General Manager Kevin Wattier. Wattier is retiring next month after 35 years with the LBWD, according to the release. 

“We were fortunate to have a very deep pool of applicants,” said Harry Saltzgaver, president of the Board of Water Commissioners in a statement. “That is, I think, a testament to the quality of the Long Beach Water Department. Chris Garner stood out from that field with his long and successful experience of managing a large utility department.”

“Garner will be a key player in the current statewide drought,” said Wattier in a statement. “I’m confident that he will continue to make Long Beach a leader in water conservation.”

Born and raised in the City of Long Beach, Garner most recently worked for the Department of Gas and Oil, helping to reduce gas bills in Signal Hill and Long Beach to their lowest in California for the past three years. He’s spent a total of 31 years working for the City of Long Beach beginning with the Tidelands Agency before transferring to the Department of Gas and Oil in 1987. 

“Chris is going to be a great General Manager for the Long Beach Water Department. He has demonstrated strong leadership as the Director of Gas and Oil and Public Works Departments,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a statement. “I know he will maintain our Water Department’s place as a leader in conservation through application of new technologies, while also focusing on customer service.”

Garner earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Loyola Marymount University. He’s also a board member of the American Public Gas Association and the California Municipal Utilities Association. 

“It is truly a privilege to be selected by the Water Commission to lead the Water Department team in their continuing effort to provide reliable, reasonably priced water, as well as quality customer service to the residents and businesses of Long Beach,” said Garner in a statement. “Leaving my position as Director of the Long Beach Gas and Oil Department after 28 years of serving with its dedicated employees, I have full confidence in their ability to continue the provision of quality services to our community.”

Above, left: photo courtesy of the Long Beach Water Department.