FREMONT — Robert Shaver, the general manager of Alameda County Water District, which serves roughly 350,000 people across Fremont, Newark, and Union City, will retire on July 1, the district announced this week.

Shaver has been at the helm for six years, and will have worked at the district for 30 years when he retires, having started as an engineer, he said in an interview Tuesday.

“It’s a hard decision for me, because when is a good time to step away? But I feel pretty good about where the district is right now,” Shaver said.

He’s happy with progress the district is making on some major projects, including a nearly completed fishery restoration in Alameda Creek, which includes the construction of two fish ladders, among other measures aimed at supporting threatened steelhead trout.

The district is in the early phases of rolling out an advanced metering project, which will allow customers to more closely monitor their water consumption, Shaver said.

In partnership with other public agencies and nonprofits, the district is also in negotiations to potentially purchase the 50,500-acre N3 Cattle Company ranch property that spans four counties, in an effort to protect critical water supply.

When Shaver took over as general manager in 2014, the state was beginning one of the worst droughts on record, and it impacted the district’s finances, he said, which he has worked to set straight.

“What’s important to me is that I’ll be handing the keys to my successor with an agency that’s in sound financial shape,” he said.

But customers have not always been happy with how the district has balanced its books.

The district has raised rates on customers nearly every year for over two decades, and some double-digit increases in recent years stirred controversy, with some residents claiming the district compensation packages for employees are too generous.

Shaver has defended the increases as necessary to attract and retain a skilled workforce, maintain and upgrade much of the district’s 900 miles of water mains, and to pay down a roughly $120 million pensions and benefits debt within the next 15 years.

In the current fiscal year, the district is spending about $52.7 million, or about 32 percent of its general fund on salaries, pensions and benefits, according to spokeswoman Sharene Gonzales.

The district board voted in December to not raise rates on customers this year because of the pandemic.

Shaver’s current total compensation package, including salary and benefits, is worth about $410,000 annually, and district staff estimated he will be paid roughly $232,000 annually after retiring, Gonzales said.

The district’s board will recruit for a new general manager, and has hired a consultant to help with the search for candidates, the district said.


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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