California Department of Water Resources

State Water Project:  Operations and Maintenance
The California State Water Project is a water storage and delivery system of reservoirs, aqueducts, powerplants and pumping plants. Today, the Project includes 34 storage facilities, reservoirs and lakes; 20 pumping plants; 4 pumping-generating plants; 5 hydroelectric power plants; and about 701 miles of open canals and pipelines. The Project provides supplemental water to approximately 25 million Californians and about 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland.

DWR State Water Project’s Challenge

Leaders within the operations and maintenance group for California DWR’s State Water Project (SWP — the largest civil engineering project in American history) had not aligned around a common set of leadership principles.  As such, it was extremely challenging to create a single view of what success entailed, how to choose among a variety of priorities, and ultimately, to deliver an effective, efficient set of programs related to operating and maintaining the SWP.

Our Solution

The O&M leaders in the SWP contracted Team Tipton to design and facilitate a series of workshops over a two-year period designed to create a powerful, compelling set of core values, as well as develop authentic, pervasive alignment and ownership of these core values across the SWP.

Outcome / Benefits

If you’re like us, you’ll see framed examples of organizational “core values, guiding principles, etc.” in elevator lobbies, in conference rooms, in reception areas — all the time!  However, how often do you hear direct alignment and personal ownership to those “framed things” coming from the staff?  Far too little, in our experience.


The SWP O&M leaders OWNED their core values, and internalized them to the point that they use them pervasively and consistently.  With Team Tipton’s assistance, they’ve gone beyond the frames — and now use their core values to guide their performance metrics, their hiring and development practices, their quality and safety initiatives, and their overall organizational resource allocation.  They have the frames, yes, but they have something far more powerful — they believe (and use) what’s on the paper.

Large Scale Infrastructure, Public Works, Water Industry