Susan Trager, longtime local water attorney and LB water district commissioner, dies

Susan Trager PhotoSusan Trager, a prominent and respected water attorney who served on the board of directors and as vice chairman of the commission of the Laguna Beach County Water District for 11 years, passed away on March 22. Trager had more than 30 years of experience in matters involving water, specializing in all aspects of water law and related issues, including land use and development as well as complex issues involving groundwater contamination.

The longtime Laguna Beach resident was passionate about her profession and was proud to be involved with shaping local and statewide water issues.

Trager was appointed to the District’s Board of Directors in August 2000 and was the first woman to serve on the 86 year-old Board. Months later, when the District became a subsidiary of the City of Laguna Beach, Trager was appointed to the District’s commission where she served as vice chairman until her passing.

Known for her flamboyant personality, love of gardening, and passion for water issues, Trager was a force to be reckoned with.

Renae Hinchey, general manager of the water district, said Trager was never one to back down from a fight. “When Susan spoke, people listened. She was confident, tenacious, and persistent in making sure that Laguna Beach’s water concerns were represented. She was the type of woman who, when she dedicated herself to something, really fought for what she believed in.”

As a member of the District’s commission, Trager served on four oversight committees, including Finance, Audit, Emergency Preparedness, and Water Supply/Santa Ana River Basin Committees. She worked tirelessly to ensure a reliable water supply for the residents of Laguna Beach and remained passionate about securing other sources of water since Laguna is solely dependent on imported supplies. She championed the District’s quest to resume its groundwater rights in the Santa Ana Basin. Her knowledge of regulatory requirements of state and federal agencies including the EPA, US Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Santa Ana and San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Boards, along with her personal relationships with colleagues throughout the County and the State were assets to the District.

Bruce Scherer, District commission chairman, noted that Trager’s passing leaves a large void at the District. “Her knowledge, work ethic, dedication, and most importantly passion for water, is a huge loss to the District, Laguna Beach, and the water industry. We will miss her greatly and join her family, friends, and colleagues in mourning her passing.”

Private family services will be held in Connecticut. The District is planning a celebration of her life in May. The date has yet to be determined.

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