Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) is remembering Patricia “Corky” Larson for her visionary work during her three terms on the CVWD board and her long leadership with multiple agencies throughout the county.
“I am very saddened to hear about her death and am grateful I got to know her,” said CVWD board President John Powell Jr. “Corky was a mentor to me. She was one of the top leaders in the Valley during my lifetime.”
At the time of her departure from the CVWD board in 2012, Larson was hailed in a board resolution as “a pillar of strength, stability and common sense.”
The resolutions also noted these accomplishments by CVWD during her tenure including her leadership as board president from 2008-2010:
- Meaningful use of State Water Project Water for groundwater replenishment as CVWD’s entitlement increased significantly;
- Effective expansion of full-scale aquifer replenishment facilities from one to three;
- Dramatically increased domestic water conservation efforts, including tiered rates, incentive-based landscape conversions and irrigation equipment upgrades;
- Promising expansion in the use of recycled and other alternative sources instead of groundwater for golf course and other large scale irrigation;
- Quantifiable agricultural irrigation water conservation through scientific scheduling and salinity control;
- Completion of complex water management plans;
- Construction of capital improvements that enhanced the ability of the valley to preserve and protect the quantity and quality of its groundwater
Larson was known for her ability to craft innovative approaches to issues and for her commitment to the environment and to disadvantaged communities.
“Corky was a very dynamic individual and provided her guidance and leadership to a number of agencies within the Coachella Valley including being elected to successive terms on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, the Palm Springs Unified School District and the Coachella Valley Water District,” said Jim Barrett, General Manager of CVWD. “She was a founding member of the California Women for Agriculture, a candidate for the US House of Representatives in 1994 and a former Executive Director at the Coachella Valley Association of Governments.”
During her tenure on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, she helped complete the first regional plan for conservation of an endangered species, the 1986 Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard Habitat Plan. It was only the second of its kind in the nation and put the Coachella Valley at the forefront of species and habitat conservation.
Concerned about meeting the needs of communities in eastern Riverside County, she created the Regional Access Project Foundation. To do this, she brought to the Board of Supervisors and the Palm Desert City Council an innovative agreement to provide a portion of sales tax generated in a development then being annexed into Palm Desert to fund needs in the areas of health, mental health and juvenile intervention services.
While serving as supervisor, Larson found time to pursue her longtime dream of law school. In 1990, she earned her law degree from Citrus Belt Law School in Riverside and was admitted to the State Bar of California. She was a leading force in the expansion of the courthouse in Indio, which is named the Larson Justice Center in her honor.
Following her service as supervisor, Larson was the executive director of the Coachella Valley Association of Governments for eight years and briefly served as the interim city attorney and interim city manager for Desert Hot Springs.
Larson was a founding member of the Salton Sea Authority and served on numerous boards and commissions including the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy Board.
Coachella Valley Water District is a public agency governed by a five-member board of directors. The district provides domestic and irrigation water, agricultural drainage, wastewater treatment and reclamation services, regional storm water protection, groundwater management and water conservation. It serves approximately 108,000 residential and business customers across 1,000 square miles, located primarily in Riverside County, but also in portions of Imperial and San Diego counties.