The gentleman retires–a fond farewell to an outstanding public servant

By Debra Tash

For a number of years I have served on a local Citizens Advisory Water Board.  District 19 in Somis is small, with just over 1900 hookups.  The Board would wrangle over rate hikes and water supply, all the while Reddy Pakala, Director of Water and Sanitation Services, exhibiting professionalism. He took whatever time necessary to see to our needs, just as he did with the other three districts he managed, which were much larger and serving so many more people.  We were all important to him, along with the projects he oversaw that delivered essential services, potable water, integrated waste management and sanitation, to our communities.

I attended one of three retirement luncheons being held for Mr. Pakala.  I think I picked the right one.  The food was cooked by staff, and the words of farewell were heartfelt.  Satya Karra was one of the speakers.  Karra is retired from the department, but not from his 50 year friendship with Pakala, who he met in college at the age of 16.  Karra said, “His bucket list was the projects he had to get done.”

Staff also decorated for the party.  The theme--games of chance

Staff also decorated for the party. The theme–games of chance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pakala was born in India.  The village where he lived the first ten years of his life had no plumbing and no running water.  He went off to school, getting a Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering. Reddy married and he and his wife had their first daughter while still in India.  Then he was accepted to graduate school in the United States. He worked his way through as a security guard at night and he had a job in the garment district by day.  Pakala received a Master’s in Hydraulics and Water Resources and a Master’s in Environmental Engineering.

I sat with Sam McIntyre and David Schwabauer at the luncheon.  Both of them are from the agricultural community, farming a large number of acres in the County.  They told me that Pakala had done his part to save ag in Ventura by being a good negotiator between agencies as the farmers fought for their right to irrigate their crops with groundwater from their own wells. The County’s Groundwater Management Agency (GMA) was tasked with preserving a scare resource. The meetings between GMA staff and farmers at the Los Posas Users Group (LPUG), were often contentious.  Pakala helped iron out their differences and overall worked for better rates for agricultural users.  Among his many engineering accomplishments is the Moorpark Desalter project which he shepherded.  The project, when complete, will help make the city less dependent on expensive imported water.

Palka’s wife is also retired.  They plan to travel.  Their first trip will be to China.  Reddy also has in mind extended visits to his homeland of India, where his brothers and sisters still live. His daughter has already signed him up to coach the grand kids’ basketball team, and he plans on playing tennis with them as well.

Always humble, Reddy had little to say but to thank everyone, especially engineering, management and office staff who performed, if not artfully, a very lively Bollywood dance number in his honor.  He said of his work: “You find a job you are passionate about. I’ve been lucky.”

And so have we, thank you, Mr. Palka for 34 years of service.

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Bollywood Moorpark Style

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Engineers, managers and staff, displaying a flare for the arts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Debra Tash is Editor-in-Chief of Citizensjournal.us, past president for Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, business executive and award-winning author, residing in Somis

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