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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
Special District

Casitas Municipal Water District Division 4Candidate for Director, Division 4

Photo of Mary Bergen

Mary Bergen

2,215 votes (45.13%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • promote continued water conservation
  • pursue additional sources of reliable, cost-effective water
  • optimize use of groundwater



I first came to Ojai in 1957 when my parents bought a ranch on Creek Road.  I learned to love the land by exploring the hills and creeks on horse and on foot.


After graduating from high school, I went off to Stanford.  In my junior year, I learned to SCUBA dive and spent time at Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey Bay.  I fell in love with marine biology.


After Stanford, I went on to U.C., Santa Barbara where I did research on black abalone on Santa Cruz Island.  With master’s degree in hand, I did a stint at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County working to get a pinnacle off of Catalina Island declared an Ecological Reserve.


That accomplished, I worked for a consulting company conducting field studies on the effect of hot water discharges on marine life in southern California.  At the Marine Science Institute, University of Southern California, I continued to work on hot water discharges.  We also sampled sandy beaches from Point Conception to San Diego and the Channel Islands to establish a baseline for the oil development to come.  I was in charge of the lab that sorted and identified the animals.


After counting some 14,000 brittle stars in one jar, I decided to go back for my Ph.D.  For my dissertation, I set up an underwater experiment off of one of the oil islands in Long Beach Harbor.


Then I stepped into a completely different world as an Oceanographer at the Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9, in San Francisco.  My first assignment was to read the Clean Water Act from start to finish.  I worked at the interface between technical information and State and Federal law, mostly on sewage discharges and ocean dumping.


Having my fill of the federal bureaucracy, I worked a bit as a consultant and then joined the staff of the California State Lands Commission providing technical evaluations for projects affecting State lands from the high tide mark to the 3-mile limit. 


My father passed away and my mother needed more help, so I looked for a job closer to home. Lucky for me, a job opened up at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (see  SCCWRP is unique in that the Board has both regulators and regulated.  The SCCWRP mission is to provide sound, independent science to support management decisions.


At the time, research was focused on sewage discharges in southern California.  As principal scientist for the benthic section, I helped create one of the first cooperative regional monitoring programs.  With integrated sampling, local impacts can be evaluated along with regional changes such as El Niño. This program continues to this day.


Life intervened once more.  I quit my job at SCCWRP and went back to work for the California State Lands Commission, working three quarters time out of my house so I could manage nursing care for my mother.


In 2000 I moved back to Ojai and took over management of the family farm, including 100 acres of avocados.  At the same time, the newly appointed Director of Fish and Game asked me to be his special advisor on marine issues. 


I then worked part time for Fish and Game while I learned all that I could about growing avocados. Again my focus was regional monitoring, for fish surveys done by divers as well as with remotely operated vehicles in water too deep for divers.  I also worked on fisheries management, including writing the first management plan for abalone.


I slowly transitioned out of marine biology but continued to run the business.  In 2010 I was elected to the Board of CMWD, where I have worked diligently to manage the water supply in service to the community.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

My position on the Board of the Casitas Municipal Water District is non partisan.   Water is a foundation for our community, our businesses and our agriculture.   I will always work in the best interests of all customers.

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