NORTH BAY – North Sonoma County Supervisor Paul Kelley will become president of the Association of California Water Agencies in December, putting him at the helm of one of the key agencies shaping statewide water policy.

This is the first time anyone from the North Bay area has been president, which means there will be more attention to this area, said Brad Sherwood, public information officer of the Sonoma County Water Agency.

“This is a prime time year for ACWA and Paul,” he said, because of the passage of the $11 billion overhaul of the state's water system that includes the Safe, Clean and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2010.

“The bond has money slated for the North Coast,” he said. “There is almost $200 million for the region.”

Portions of the funding from the act will be allocated for critical salmon and habitat restoration and recycled water projects, including $45 million for North Coast Integrated Regional Management Planning, $138 million for the Bay Area Integrated Regional Water Management Plan, $50 million for coastal salmon restoration projects to the California Coastal Conservancy, $50 million to the Coastal Conservancy for the Ocean Protection Act projects and $1 billon for statewide recycling.

The Sonoma County Water Agency has become a leader in energy improvements with its Sonoma County Energy Independence Program.

The program, which was made available to residents and building owners in Sonoma County March 25, allows property owners to make energy improvements to their buildings through loans from the county that are payable on the owners’ property tax bills.

Assembly Bill 811, which allows for cities and counties in California to create financing districts for energy improvements, made this financing possible. The Sonoma County Water Agency and the Auditor-Controller Treasurer-Tax Collector run the program.

Already, a number of states and counties have visited the water agency to discuss the unique financing effort.

Santa Barbara, Placer, San Mateo, Trinity, Los Angeles and Imperial counties are all in discussions to get their own programs together. Fourteen states have implemented similar legislation.

Randy Poole, general manager and chief engineer of the water agency, is slated to retire at the end of February. The agency is currently soliciting candidates for the new general manager position created by the SCWA board of directors. The application closing date for the general manager position is Dec. 21.

The Association of California Water Agencies was founded in 1910. Mr. Kelley currently serves as vice president of the group.