Your Management Team

John Sweigard John Sweigard - General Manager

John Sweigard joined the Merced Irrigation District as its General Manager in January 2010. Mr. Sweigard began his water management career 20 years earlier as a Night Patrolman and Distribution System Operator on MID's irrigation canals, while working to pay his way toward his degree in Ag Engineering, from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Mr. Sweigard's career has been focused on resource and public agency management from the very beginning. Prior to his hiring as General Manager at MID, he served almost 13 years as the General Manager of Patterson Irrigation District, the entirety of his tenure there. Mr. Sweigard was known for his forward thinking and for being a productive, versatile manager.

Among the many projects he undertook while managing PID was the $13 million Patterson Fish Screen Project, which resulted in the installation of a self-cleaning flat plate, positive barrier fish screen along the bank of the San Joaquin River at the intake of the District's main canal. The statewide Association of California Water Agencies - representing 440 member water agencies across California - recognized the project as the winner of the prestigious Clair Hill Award in 2012 for its innovation and benefit to the environment.

Mr. Sweigard has extensive experience working with elected boards, public relations, as well as local, state and federal agency interaction. He additionally has significant experience dealing with fishery and endangered species issues, public agency finance and administration, energy and power, engineering, construction, operations and resource conservation. At the 2009 Mid Pacific Region Water Users Conference he was recognized by his peers for his career accomplishments with the F. Gordon Johnson Memorial Achievement Award for Excellence in Operations and Maintenance.

He spent his teen years working on his grandfather's cattle operation in the Winton area and graduated from Livingston High School. Mr. Sweigard's early exposure to irrigated agriculture occurred on several planes. He witnessed a great deal on his family's dairy farm and cattle ranch. He also completed a three month stint working on a moshav in the agriculturally oriented Golan Heights area of Israel before entering high school.

Mr. Sweigard is an active member of the U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage and was elected by his irrigation profession peers to their Board of Directors in 2011. Additionally, he was a longtime board member of the San Luis and Delta Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA) representing PID and northern Delta Mendota Canal federal water service contractors' interests.

He additionally worked on several committees for the SLDMWA, including the Finance and Administration Committee, and the Operations and Maintenance Committee. Further, he served on the Board of Directors of the San Joaquin Valley Drainage Authority and its Policy Steering Committee since the agency's creation.

Mr. Sweigard resides in Atwater with his wife of more than 18 years and their three teen children.

Hicham Eltal

Hicham Eltal - Deputy General Manager, Water Rights/Supply

Hicham ElTal joined the Merced Irrigation District in October 1993 as a Senior Engineer with the Water Resources department and currently serves as the Deputy General Manager of Water Supply/Rights.

As Deputy General Manager of Water Supply/Rights, Mr. ElTal is responsible for MID's water storage and distribution. In this position he is responsible for administering water-resource related activities involving water rights, water quality, water supply, water marketing, and water resource development.

Mr. ElTal has more than 36 years of demonstrated experience in water resource engineering, infrastructure, design and construction, and planning and management. Over the past 27 years, he has played a key role in the success of the District's Water Resources Division.

Mr. ElTal is a registered Civil Engineer with the State of California and holds a BS in Civil Engineering from California State University, Fullerton. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers He is the active chairman for the Merced Irrigation-Urban Groundwater Sustainability Agency, and board member of the East Turlock Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency.

Mr. ElTal resides in Merced with his wife and three young-adult children and enjoys fishing on Lake McClure.

Bryan KellyBryan Kelly - Deputy General Manager, Water Resources

Bryan Kelly began his employment with MID in August 2004 as a Senior Engineer with the Water Resources department and currently serves as the Deputy General Manager of Water Resources.

As Deputy General Manager of Water Resources, Mr. Kelly is responsible for overseeing all of water resources engineering, construction, maintenance, operations, efficiency and planning as well as water regulatory issues including compliance and renewal of licenses, permits, and contracts. Mr. Kelly has more than 18 years of professional experience in the planning, engineering, operations and management of irrigation and municipal infrastructure systems. In his position with MID and throughout his career he has worked with numerous local, state and federal agencies on water resource related projects.

Prior to joining the MID team, he worked for 10 years at CH2M HILL, a national environmental engineering firm. During that time he served as a water resource project manager, lead engineer, staff manager and marketing lead. Between 1989 and 1994 he worked at the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans as a water treatment plant operator.

He is an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Army, having served between from 1985 and 1989.

He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of New Orleans in 1993. In 1989, Mr. Kelly obtained his Louisiana Professional Engineering license. He subsequently obtained his California Professional Engineering license in 2005 after joining MID.

Mr. Kelly is a member of the Association of California Water Agencies and the U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage.

Mr. Kelly resides in Chowchilla, CA with his wife of 25 years and has two young-adult children attending college.

Juan Sandoval Juan Sandoval - Deputy General Manager, Energy Resources

Juan Sandoval joined the Merced Irrigation District in August 2016 as an Engineering and Operations Manager with the Energy Resources department and was promoted to Deputy General Manager of Energy Resources in June 2019.

As Deputy General Manager of Energy Resources, Mr. Sandoval is responsible for overseeing all of the Hydroelectric Department as well as Energy Resources engineering, construction, maintenance, electric operations, energy efficiency/public programs, transmission and distribution planning as well as energy regulatory issues including compliance and renewal of licenses, permits, and energy contracts.

Mr. Sandoval obtained his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California in 1983. In 2001, Mr. Sandoval obtained his California Professional Electrical Engineer license.

Mr. Sandoval started his career working for Comisión Federal de Electricidad for six years before moving over to Imperial Irrigation District for 26 years. During that time, he served in different roles as an Assistant Manager in the areas of Engineering, Operations, Planning, Safety, and Quality Control.

Juan is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

Mr. Sandoval resides in Atwater with his wife of 31 years and has two young-adult children.

In Juan’s spare time, he enjoys outdoor activities and spending quality time with his wife, family, and friends.

Vic MorenoVic Moreno - Director of Administrative Services

Mr. Vic Moreno joined the Merced Irrigation District as its Director of Administrative Services in January of 2017.  Mr. Moreno brought with him more than three decades of experience in human resources, management, risk management and general administration. As MID’s Director of Administrative Services, Mr. Moreno oversees the District's Human Resources, Risk Management and Information Technology functions.

Mr. Moreno has an extensive background in investigations, risk management, safety and human resources. Prior to his employment with MID, he worked for Foster Farms for 32 years serving over a decade in a Labor Relations Manager role with oversight of 3000 employees at three plants.  Prior to that, Mr. Moreno also served as the Corporate Safety Manager in the Risk Management department serving over 13,000 employees for over a decade.

In his role as MID’s Director of Administrative Services, Mr. Moreno reports directly to the General Manager and is tasked with planning, directing and coordinating all MID Human Resource and Risk Management activities. He is additionally tasked with implementing the goals, objectives, policies, procedures and priorities of MID’s Administrative Services Department.  This includes overseeing Risk Management, Information Technology and Safety programs and activities. Other duties include maintaining and developing MID employment policies and procedures, maintaining employee benefit programs and ensuring consistent and accurate reporting and compliance with federal and state regulations and standards.

Further, Mr. Moreno monitors and administers the District’s property, liability and Workers Compensation insurance programs. Additionally, he provides counseling to MID managers, supervisors and employees on the District’s personnel policies and best practices.

Mr. Moreno holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from California State University, Stanislaus, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Saint Mary's College of California and a Workplace Health and Safety Manager Certificate from UC Davis.  Mr. Moreno also maintains a certificate from the Human Resources Certification Institute as a Senior Professional in Human Resources.

A lifelong Valley resident, Mr. Moreno was raised in Merced and currently resides with his wife, two sons and one daughter in Turlock, CA.  In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, being involved in his children’s activities, watching various sports, hiking, off roading and restoration of muscle cars.

Don KnappDonald Knapp - Chief Financial Officer

Don Knapp joined the MID management team in December 2019 and serves as the District’s Chief Financial Officer. As head of the Finance Department, he is responsible for planning, organizing and directing all accounting and finance activities of the District under direction from the General Manager. Mr. Knapp brings more than 25 years of finance and accounting experience to the District. 

Mr. Knapp began his career with Newmont Mining Corporation in Elko, Nevada. He was promoted several times to positions of increasing responsibility in accounting of the $7 billion gold mining company. Prior to joining the MID Management Team, he served as the Division Controller for Foster Poultry Farms based in Livingston, Ca. He was responsible for the accounting functions of the Prepared Foods, Logistics, Commodities and Turkey facilities located in California, Oregon and Alabama.  He had previously served as the Controller-Chicken Plants and Controller-Live Operations during his 19 years within the company.

Mr. Knapp holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from California State University, Fresno - Craig School of Business.  Mr. Knapp lives in Atwater with his wife of 23 years and their two children.  When he is not working, he enjoys being in the mountains, hunting, fishing and racing dirt bikes.

Brooke GutierrezBrooke Gutierrez - Director of Parks

Ms. Brooke Gutierrez joined Merced Irrigation District as the Director of Parks in summer of 2018. She has an extensive background in the management, maintenance and promotion of parks and recreation that spans nearly two decades.

MID operates recreation facilities on Lakes McClure and McSwain. This includes multiple recreation areas providing more than 600 campsites, fishing, boating, swimming, hiking and bicycling. Among the facilities are six boat launches and several floating marinas.

Under the direction of MID General Manager Sweigard, Ms. Gutierrez performs a variety of tasks relating to the overall planning, budgeting, marketing, operation and maintenance of the Parks Department.

The vast majority of her expertise was developed during a lengthy tenure with the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Prior to beginning her service with MID, she served as a Manager of Recreation in the Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo Region. She oversaw such parks facilities as Montana de Oro and Hearst Castle. Ms. Gutierrez began her career as a peace officer with the State Parks Department in 1999.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from Southern New Hampshire University. Outside of MID, she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking and traveling.

Mike JensenMike Jensen - Manager of Public and Government Relations

Mike Jensen joined the Merced Irrigation District in January 2011. His responsibilities include keeping the public, government entities and elected officials informed of the District's policy positions, goals and interests. He is additionally responsible for assisting in tracking legislation affecting the utility and advocating MID’s policy interests.

Mr. Jensen began his career writing free-lance articles for the Fresno Bee during his senior year of college. He took his first full-time journalism position at the Sonora Union Democrat coving environmental issues for the daily newspaper. During that time, he was awarded two first-place awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association. He went on to work for the Merced Sun-Star newspaper as a senior government reporter and later as a manager and editor for the Hanford Sentinel and its weekly publications. Mr. Jensen also served many years working in state and legislative affairs.

Mr. Jensen holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an Associate Degree of Science from College of the Sequoias in Visalia. Prior to attending college, Mr. Jensen served in the United States Navy and was stationed at Lemoore Naval Air Station. He deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1994 and participated in operations to enforce the No-Fly Zone over southern Iraq following the first Gulf War.

Outside of MID, Mr. Jensen continues to serve on a host of nonprofit boards and policy committees. He currently serves on the Castle Air Museum Board of Directors and is a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Merced County Association of Governments. He has previously served as Chairman of the Merced City Recreation and Parks Commission, as well as Chair of the Resources Committee for CASA of Merced County, a nonprofit which works to improve the lives of local foster youth. Mr. Jensen lives in Chowchilla with his wife, Megan, and their son.

Phil McMurrayPhillip R. McMurray - General Counsel

Phillip McMurray has served as General Counsel for the Merced Irrigation District since July 2011. Under the general direction of the Board of Directors and the General Manager, Mr. McMurray is responsible for the overall planning, organization, coordination, oversight and management of all the legal affairs of MID. Mr. McMurray provides legal advice and professional legal services to MID’s Board and staff, and oversees the selection and work of consulting attorneys and experts, all with the ultimate goal of protecting MID's resources for the benefit of its water and energy its customers. His duties require expert analysis, experience and a detailed knowledge of a wide variety legal fields and issues, including for example public agency law and the Brown Act, water rights law, hydroelectric and related energy law, real property law and more. Mr. McMurray represents MID as a legislative advocate, at administrative and regulatory law hearings, and judicial proceedings, all at the federal, state and local levels. 

Mr. McMurray earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Business with a minor in Plant Science from the California State University, Fresno where he graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2000. 

Before MID, Mr. McMurray served as an associate attorney with Linneman, Burgess, Telles, Van Atta, Vierra, Rathmann, Whitehurst & Keene of Dos Palos. Additionally, he has previously served as an adjunct faculty member at Merced College teaching business and law oriented classes.

Mr. McMurray resides in Los Banos with his wife and three children. In his spare time he enjoys family barbecues, camping, traveling, and coaching baseball/softball for his two sons and daughter.


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