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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
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Special District

Marina Coast Water DistrictCandidate for Director

Photo of Matt Zefferman

Matt Zefferman

Scientist/University Educator
3,479 votes (30.01%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Fighting CalAm's slant well
  • Keeping your water rates low
  • Championing sustainable water for future generations



Profession:Veteran, Engineer, Scientist
Scientist and Instructor, Naval Postgraduate School (2017–current)
Scientist, Arizona State University (worked remotely from Monterey County) (2015–2017)
Scientist, University of Tennessee (2013–2015)
PhD Student, UC Davis (2007–2013)
Civil Engineering Officer, United States Air Force (2002–2007)


UC Davis PhD, Ecology (2013)
Cornell University MPS, Environmental Management (2002)
US Air Force Civil Engineering Officer Course (2002)
Cornell University BS, Environmental Engineering (2001)


Matt was born into a military family and grew up all over the United States. He eventually went to Cornell University on an ROTC scholarship, earning a bachelors in Engineering and and masters in Environmental Management.

In 2001, Matt commissioned into the Air Force as a civil engineering officer and was assigned to Dyess Air Force Base in central Texas where he was the planning engineer for over $36 million in construction projects, including a $10 million project to repair and replace failing water mains and sewer lines. At the start of the war in Iraq, he was in charge of installing the infrastructure for a new Air Force compound at Al Dhafra Air Base in the UAE. After returning to Texas, he was the base environmental compliance officer and his work with unit environmental coordinators was instrumental in the base's record-setting zero discrepancies and exceptional rating during the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality inspection.

He was then assigned to Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska where he re-vamped the installation's recurring maintenance program before taking command of the installation's emergency management flight and developed plans and training to plan for and protect against natural disasters, major accidents, and terrorist attacks. Under his command, his flight earned the Pacific Air Force's Emergency Management Flight of the Year award.

In 2006, he deployed to Afghanistan and was the Chief of Construction Planning and Design for the country's largest military base. He planned and developed major infrastructure projects, including the base's first integrated water and wastewater distribution systems. He also went on missions as a consultant with the local Provincial Reconstruction Team and as a liaison to the Afghans' local irrigation board.

In 2007, he moved to California and earned a PhD in ecology from UC Davis, studying cooperation and conflict in environmental problems and warfare.

Matt moved to Monterey County so his wife, Emily, could work as an ecologist restoring the Salinas river and he could teach and conduct research at the Naval Postgraduate School. After moving all of his life, as a military brat, a military officer, and a scientific researcher he is excited to finally settle down in the diverse and vibrant city of Marina. He hopes that he will be able to contribute his experience and steady temperment to serve you on the Marina Coast Water District board.

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Jane Parker, Monterey County Supervisor

Elected Officials (9)

  • Wendy Root Askew, MPUSD Board Member
  • Jan Shriner, Vice President of Marina Coast Water District Board of Directors
  • Herbert Cortez, Marina Coast Water District Board of Directors
  • Thomas Moore, President of Marina Coast Water District Board of Directors
  • Nancy Amadeo, Marina City Council
  • Frank O’Connell, Marina City Council
  • Gail Morton, Marina City Council
  • David Brown, Marina City Council
  • Bruce Delgado, Mayor of Marina

Individuals (10)

  • Tom Mann, Marina Planning Commissioner
  • Adam Urrutia, Marina Planning Commissioner
  • David Bielsker, Marina Planning Commission
  • Lisa Berkley, Marina Planning Commission Vice Chair
  • David Burnett, Marina Planning Commission Chair
  • George T. Riley, Managing Director, Public Water Now
  • Kathy Biala, co-founder, Citizens for Just Water
  • Grace Silva-Santella, Former Marina Planning Commissioner
  • Dawn Alva, Marina Economic Planning Commissioner
  • Tess Alcantara, Marina Economic Planning Commissioner

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

Marina has a looming water crisis – both short term, with the CalAm slant well project threatening to take our groundwater, and in the long term, as our existing water supply dwindles. I will dedicate my time on the Marina Coast Water District board to maintaining  safe and affordable drinking water while working with Marina’s leadership to secure a long-term sustainable water supply.  Our problems seem daunting, but if we are willing to work with our local partners to solve them we can ensure that we have water for our children and grandchildren. I worked collaboratively to solve daunting water problems as an Air Force civil engineering officer in Texas, Alaska, the middle east and Afghanistan. My PhD in Ecology trained me to think about water issues as large-scale problems requiring large-scale solutions. We need to proactively seek regional solutions to our water challenges so we won’t have to worry about entities like CalAm threatening our water again.


Major Issues: 1. Protecting Marina’s groundwater. The most immediate and critical issue facing the Marina Coast Water District is protecting our groundwater from CalAm’s proposed slant well project. There are many problems with this project, but three problems important to the people of Marina are (1) the high likelihood that the slant well will draw on our ground water and contaminate our aquifers through salt water intrusion, (2) the desalinated water will go to communities on the peninsula instead of to Marina, (3) CalAm has no legal right to our groundwater. That these issues have not yet been adequately considered by state agencies in unconscionable. As a private citizen I have worked with Citizens for Just Water to oppose the slant well and have spoken against it at the CPUC meeting in San Francisco. If the slant well is not stopped administratively, I support working with the City of Marina and other allies to stop it through the courts. Litigation can be expensive, but it is a question of whether we pay some now for a lawsuit or a lot more later when desalination is our only source of water. As an alternative to the slant well, I support expansion of the Pure Water Monterey recycling program. On the MCWD board, I will focus on leading other regional agencies in developing a long-term regional water supply. 2. Smart annexation. With the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) scheduled to end, I intend to make sure that the MCWD plans for smart annexation of former Fort Ord communities. We are already servicing those communities and paying FORA a fortune for the privilege. With annexation, we will no longer pay FORA. However, I want to make sure that the lower-income parts of Marina do not end up subsidizing the expansion of expensive infrastructure into higher-income developments. I support (1) keeping separate cost centers to make sure that we fairly allocate administrative and infrastructure costs between the older and newer parts of Marina - at least until the infrastructure costs have balanced between the two areas; (2) making sure that developers pay the infrastructure costs for new developments up-front so that existing former Fort Ord residents do not see these costs added to their water bill; (3) evaluating low-income housing in in-fill areas for incorporation into the central Marina cost center on a case-by-case basis. 3. Developing a long-term water supply. I will work to ensure a sustainable water supply in Marina for my family in the decades to come. I will work with the City of Marina and our regional allies to establish a regional long-term water supply to ensure safe, affordable water for future generations. There is no reason that Marina Coast Water District cannot lead in this area and, as the most prominent public water agency in the region, we should. Responsible communication with the public: I believe that MCWD board members should represent themselves, the water district, and the people of Marina with professionalism and respect. The Marina Coast Water District has done amazing work for Marina. The staff are knowledgeable, responsible, and hard-working. The current manager, Keith Van Der Maaten, is incredibly smart and collaborative and puts the needs of Marina first. Current board members Tom Moore, Jan Shriner, Bill Lee, and Herbert Cortez have all been extremely generous to me with their time, experience, and ideas as I have prepared to represent you on the board. Any of the bad reputation associated with the MCWD (constant in-fighting, etc) in the past does not apply to most of the current leadership. Whenever you hear about the MCWD in the newspaper, on Nextdoor, or from your neighbors, I want it to *always* be about our accomplishments and good work for Marina. There has been a lot of discussion at board meetings and candidate forums about whether MCWD board members have the constitutional freedom to say what they want. While I agree that board members have these constitutional rights, I am more concerned about how we choose to exercise them. I believe that elected officials should be recognized as the servants of all of the people of their district – regardless of their race or creed. If you elect me to represent you on the MCWD board, I promise that I will comport myself and speak publicly in a professional manner that emphasizes the good work of the Marina Coast Water District in protecting and sustaining our water and that is inclusive to all of the people of Marina. In our fight to protect Marina’s water, we can’t be distracted by conflict between ourselves and our natural allies. To achieve a sustainable water supply, the Marina Coast Water District needs to work collaboratively with our city council and regional partners. In Afghanistan, I worked with US military and civilian engineers, local Afghan contractors and our NATO and South Korean allies to solve a complicated array of engineering problems. I will use the same collaborative problem-solving approach to serve you on the MCWD board. Our water problems can be solved - as long as we work together.


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