Apr 27, 2023 | Blog

Meet The New Leaders Of The Alliance Advisory Committee: Urban Eberhart And Scott Petersen

Meet the New Leaders of the
Alliance Advisory Committee:
Urban Eberhart and Scott Petersen

The Family Farm Alliance board of directors earlier this year appointed Urban Eberhart, Secretary Manager of the Kittitas Reclamation District (KRD) in Eastern Washington, as the new chairman of the Alliance Advisory Committee. He replaces Gary Esslinger – the long-time general manager of Elephant Butte Irrigation District (NEW MEXICO) – who served as chairman for the Advisory Committee for the past five years.

The board of director also appointed Scott Petersen, the Water Policy Director for the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (CALIFORNIA), as the first-ever Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee.

“Gary Esslinger was an outstanding Advisory Committee chairman, and we thank him for his leadership and commitment to our organization,” said Alliance President Patrick O’Toole. “We’re pleased and fortunate to have two water professionals like Urban and Scott to help lead the efforts of our incredibly talented Advisory Committee.”

Urban Eberhart 

Urban Eberhart grew up on a farm in Washington state’s Kittitas Valley and at an early age became a leader in the agriculture community. He was first elected to the Board of Directors of the Kittitas Reclamation District (KRD) in 1986 and remained an active board member until being appointed as the KRD Secretary Manager in 2015.

Mr. Eberhart attended his first Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project (YRBWEP) meeting in 1979 and continues to work on finding solutions to Yakima and Columbia River issues. He helped with the drafting and successful passage through Congress in 1994 and 2019 of the second and third phases of  the YRBWEP that authorized the initial phase of the Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resources Management Plan.

“Our success has been possible both through the collaborative process and the many relationships that have been made possible through our participation in the Family Farm Alliance,” he said.

Mr. Eberhart served on the NOAA Fisheries Columbia Basin Partnership Task Force to collaboratively develop shared goals and a comprehensive vision for the future of Columbia Basin Salmon and Steelhead. He continues his involvement on Columbia River issues through the four Governors Columbia Basin Collaborative process.

Mr. Eberhart is leading the way in planning for climate resiliency. He has been a leader in the irrigation community and continues to focus on innovative solutions to current and future water related issues.

“The Family Farm Alliance is an efficiently run and effective operation that delivers timely and accurate information on irrigation water issues impacting Western farmers to members of Congress, agencies and its own members,” he said. “The entire Alliance team is made up of informed professionals who are dedicated and are working hard together to protect the water supplies for Western farmers and ranchers.”

Scott Petersen, P.E. 

Scott Petersen is the Water Policy Director for the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, where he is responsible for natural resources and environmental policy, government and public relations, the advancement of science impacting water management, and water resources and sustainable groundwater management coordination. The Water Authority operates and maintains the facilities that provide water for approximately 1.2 million acres of agriculture in the San Joaquin, San Benito, and Santa Clara Valleys, over 2 million people in Silicon Valley, and 135,000 acres of managed wetlands and habitat of critical importance to the Pacific Flyway.

Prior to joining the Water Authority, Mr. Petersen worked for 10 years for Members of Congress principally advancing sound natural resources, environmental, agricultural and energy policy.

He earned a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and a graduate certificate in land use and environmental planning from the University of California, Riverside. He is active in volunteering with the Association of California Water Agencies and the National Water Resources Association, as well as being a graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership Program.

Mr. Petersen was raised in Riverside, California. He lives in Sacramento, where he spends his time with friends dining, camping, and planning his next adventure.

He has been an active member of the Alliance Advisory Committee since 2019.

“I’ve always been impressed by the work of the Family Farm Alliance and their ability to not only advocate strongly for their membership, but also to work collaboratively with a diverse coalition of interests to advance sound solutions to support Western agriculture,” he said. “I look forward to continuing that tradition in my role as the Vice Chair of the Advisory Committee.”

About the Family Farm Alliance Advisory Committee

The Family Farm Alliance is governed by a board of directors made up of farm and ranch owners and managers from throughout the Western United States. The Advisory Committee includes water professionals like irrigation district managers and staff, association CEOs, advocates, attorneys, and engineers.

“All of the Alliance Directors and Advisory Committee members serve as volunteers, and are not compensated for their time, which is sometimes consuming,” said Executive Director Dan Keppen. “They are a critical component to the success of the Family Farm Alliance.” 

We will continue to keep you informed on this and other developments impacting Western irrigated agriculture.
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