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The San Antonio Water System’s longtime chief operating officer has come out of retirement and returned to his role at SAWS, with his successor departing the utility for the private sector.
Steve Clouse, who worked 33 years at San Antonio’s water and sewer utility before retiring in December 2018 as COO, is back on the job, SAWS President and CEO Robert Puente told the Rivard Report.
Meanwhile, Mike Frisbie, the former City Engineer and director of the City’s Transportation and Capital Improvements Department, has taken a job at Raba Kistner, a San Antonio-based engineering firm with offices across Texas and in Nebraska, Utah, and Mexico. Frisbie came to San Antonio in 2007 from a private-sector job in Phoenix after being recruited by then-City Manager Sheryl Sculley, a former Phoenix assistant city manager.
Efforts to reach Frisbie for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Clouse said that after receiving good news from doctors on a cancer diagnosis he has previously discussed and after the resolution of family issues he didn’t want to share publicly, he agreed to return to his former role.
“It’s a privilege to be back,” he said. “I love what I do here.”
In a way, Clouse never truly left SAWS. In February 2019, the SAWS board approved a consulting agreement with Clouse of up to $144,000 that ran through December. Clouse said he’s been working regularly for the utility on issues like a lawsuit over a sewage sinkhole and the integration of the new Vista Ridge water pipeline into SAWS’ larger system.
“We made room for [Clouse], and then Frisbie saw an opportunity somewhere else, and he took it,” Puente said.
Puente said Clouse, who started at the utility in 1985, brings “a tremendous amount of historical knowledge.”
“Everything about how a pump works to how a politician thinks,” Puente continued. “And that’s so invaluable. I’m glad that he’s back.”
In a news release last month, Raba Kistner announced that Frisbie would lead the firm’s growth in its San Antonio and Austin markets and oversee the growth of its engineering consulting, infrastructure, environmental, and project management business lines.
“Mike Frisbie is a proven leader with a stellar reputation,” the firm’s president Gary Raba said in a prepared statement. “As a key member of the Raba Kistner leadership team, he will strengthen our culture and provide insights to our clients’ needs.”
The San Antonio Water System’s top executive will get a raise this year but no bonus, with officials citing the coronavirus pandemic.
Members of the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District threatened pumping cutbacks and fines of up to $10,000 per day of waste.
The year and 10 months without cutbacks is the longest such period the city has experienced since 2009 and longest ever under current drought rules.