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The end of an era: Kennedy retires as general manager of Rainbow Water

FALLBROOK – After nine exciting years with Rainbow Municipal Water District, Tom Kennedy hung his hat up and retired as General Manager on Oct. 4. Kennedy came to Rainbow from a neighboring water district in August 2014, with the goal to make the district a better place for its ratepayers and employees.

He has turned the district into a highly regarded public agency and assembled a well-respected team of managers and employees dedicated to serving the ratepayers by focusing on teamwork, responsibility, innovation, integrity, and professionalism. Kennedy has pioneered new procedures to streamline processes, and integrated technology to ensure the district is at the forefront of water industry standards.

Kennedy is an important community member, having served in various local organizations, including as president of the Bonsall Rotary Club and two terms as president of the San Diego Chapter of the California Special District Association. He is the person people want to sit next to at a meeting or partner with on a committee, due in large part to his witty sense of humor and astute knowledge that drives him to create meaningful solutions.

Among his most poignant career milestones is the LAFCO victory in 2015 that prevented a forced consolidation with a neighboring agency, and the three-year process of the district’s application to change its water wholesaler. In addition, the district was recognized as a San Diego Union-Tribune Top Workplace for the first time in 2021 and again in 2022 and 2023.

“The board’s partnership with Tom is one of mutual admiration and respect,” said Hayden Hamilton, RMWD Board President. “In addition to substantial operational and management improvements, detachment is a large component of Tom’s legacy to better serve our ratepayers, and the benefits will be tremendous for our community for years to come.”

Kennedy has dedicated his career to water and wastewater management with over 30 years in the private and public sectors. Before joining the district, he held leadership roles as vice president, Business Solutions at Nobel Systems Inc., water engineer at the City of Vernon, and operations manager at Olivenhain MWD.

A Southern California native, he earned a bachelor of science in aerospace engineering from San Diego State University and holds a master’s in public administration from California State University, Fullerton.

In recent months, he has been featured in numerous news interviews and chaired Bonsall Rotary Club events. He has made a profound impact by adopting innovative solutions to modernize the district’s infrastructure and advocated for better public policy as a member of the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission’s Special District Advisory Committee since 2015.

“There are many exciting projects ahead at Rainbow,” said Mr. Kennedy. “I am proud of the work we have done to expand our services, cultivate a team of dedicated employees and bring awareness to water conservation. It has been an honor to serve this unique community.”

Kennedy will retire from public service and begin his next adventure in the private sector as a water consultant. He plans to take time off and enjoy an extended vacation with his wife.

The Rainbow MWD is grateful for Kennedy’s tireless effort to make the district a better place than when he first arrived and for leading into the next chapter.

The RMWD Board named Jake Wiley as the new general manager. Wiley is a seven-year Bonsall resident and an RMWD ratepayer. He began serving as the District’s General Manager on Sept. 25, and has worked alongside Kennedy as the district transitions to new leadership in October.

Submitted by Rainbow Municipal Water Discount.


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