Kathie Martin ­— Building bridges as water PIO

Kathie Martin was brought in to SCV Water to help usher in the merger of the four water companies into one entity. PHOTOS BY DAN WATSON / THE SIGNAL
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Water. 

Necessary for life, but a substance we take for granted. 

Kathie Martin, the public information office of SCV Water, said before she came to the Santa Clarita Valley, she didn’t really know all the intricacies of water delivery, or water politics. 

“It’s been a learning curve, fascinating and rewarding,” she said. “Water is such a critical component of our lives. I love the challenge of sharing with our customers the value of the water we provide.”

SCV Water

SCV Water was created from the four SCV water retailers: Castaic Lake Water Agency, Newhall County Water District, Santa Clarita Water Division and Valencia Water Company. For years, these individual companies had provided  water to residents and businesses of the SCV.

“I started this job two weeks before the merger of the four entities took effect,” Martin said. “I was brought in to usher in the new integrated identity. I work with internal communications, build bridges between the unique corporate cultures each of the legacy agencies brought to SCV Water and continue to introduce the new agency and brand to the community.” 

SCV Water provides water service to approximately 300,000 business and residential customers within area of nearly 200 square miles. Half of the water in the SCV comes from local groundwater, with the other half imported from the State Water Project and other sources.

Challenges

Martin said one of the most challenging issues is getting users to think more about the water they use.

“When people turn on their water, they don’t think about the miles it has traveled and the processes it has gone through and the people who make sure the water is clean, safe, reliable and at a reasonable cost,” she said. “It is a challenge. It is a topic that is discussed industry wide, ‘How do we convey the value of water?’”

Fun and games

Martin, born in East Liverpool, Ohio, moved to California at age 2. 

“My family had lived in Ohio for four generations, but my dad got tired of the snow,” she said. The family moved to Fontana, then to Rialto where she graduated high school.

“It’s fun to go back to Ohio to visit family, but I’m really a California girl,” Martin said. 

She earned a bachelors degree in recreation administration at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. 

“I joke that I have a degree in playing games,” she said.

Martin decided to study recreation administration after working as a recreation leader at a summer playground program when she was in high school.

One of her first jobs after graduation was as community services director for the Jess Ranch Retirement Community in Apple Valley. She stayed there for nine years.

“That was a fun job,” Martin said. It was a 55-and-older retirement community. “I was a one-person recreation department, I provided programs and activities for the senior community. I even served as the bus driver for their day trips.”

Apple Valley

In 1998 she became the event coordinator for the Apple Valley Recreation and Park District. She spent three years managing major community events including the annual 4th of July celebration, an art festival and others. 

In 2001 she was hired as the marketing and public affairs officer for the town of Apple Valley. She handled media relations, internal and external communications, town council and community relations, special events and corporate sponsorships.

In 2015 Martin was presented the Paul B. Clark Award. It is a yearly award given by the California Association of Public Information Officials board of directors to an individual who demonstrates exceptional leadership in the field through professional commitment, including the mentoring of others and fostering a greater understanding of the PIO function among colleagues, community and the media.

Kathie Martin – SCV Water PIO displays one of her water color paintings of Bridgeport Park. December 19. 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

Moving to the SCV

When she saw the job opening as  public information officer for SCV Water, Martin thought it would be a good fit.

“I had lived in Apple Valley for 30 years and was in the same job for 17 years,” she said. “I knew it was a great opportunity to branch out.”

Her transition to SCV Water was swift. 

“My last day on the job in Apple Valley was on a Thursday, I moved to Santa Clarita on the weekend and my first day at SCV Water was Monday, Dec. 18, 2017,” she said.

“Water was new to me coming here. We didn’t have a water utility in Apple Valley. My job was more about dealing with potholes and dog bites and the need for more restaurants in the area … rural city issues.” 

Life 

Martin has a son, Nick; daughter, Jill; and a granddaughter.

She is enjoying living in the SCV and has a goal to visit all of the 34 Santa Clarita parks.

“After seeing a map of Santa Clarita parks in a recent copy of the Seasons magazine I decided to visit all 34 parks,” she said. 

Martin sketches and paints watercolors and has created artworks during her park visits.

Her hobbies also include running, biking and hiking. 

“I love living in Santa Clarita, it felt like home from day one,” she said. “I love the community spirit and resources. I love exploring the bike trails and the paseos, entertainment and dining opportunities. It is beautiful here with the open space and surrounding mountains.” 

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