We lost an important member of our community with the passing of Tom Ash, former HydroPoint Director of Conservation. Tom was a pioneer of water sustainability, but he was loved for reasons beyond his expertise. Tom kept us laughing and learning. He made sustainability cool, long before it was in vogue to care.
HydroPoint would not exist today without Tom’s early work, passion, dedication and influence on conservation. A life so wonderfully lived will be wonderfully remembered by all who knew him.
As a water horticulturist, Tom worked on three continents during droughts and wrote two books on water use efficiency. He started working with water agencies in 1987 and developed an expertise in conservation over the following decades. He helped design and implement the first water budget tiered rate structure in 1991 with the Irvine Ranch Water District. He was the first Agency person to commission a study on the early WeatherTRAK controller while at the IRWD. When Tom came to HydroPoint in 2003, he had been championing early smart irrigation technologies for years.
Tom was an educator who tirelessly worked to influence efficient water infrastructures across numerous territories and agencies. His accomplishments were too numerous to list here. He spent the better part of his career helping organizations adapt to California legislation for water use efficiency. He developed the blueprint for agencies to stabilize revenue, increase efficiency, and satisfy their communities. In other words, Tom defied the conventional wisdom that such things weren’t concurrently possible.
“He could talk shop with a CEO minutes after finishing a field training session for 20 workers. He had that range of knowledge and infectious enthusiasm,” said Chris Manchuck, HydroPoint’s co-founder (see his TED talk on the economics of water conservation for proof!). “Many times you had no idea what he was talking about but it did not matter. You got on board because Tom was saying let’s go and you had to see what was next.”
“Tom was a mentor, a coach, a gentleman and a rascal. I loved Tom Ash.” Ben Slick, SVP Business Development at HydroPoint, expressed.
During his time at HydroPoint, Tom taught many of us the “inside baseball” version of water politics in California. He directly influenced more than one multi-million dollar program for HydroPoint, as an indefatigable reformer for water conservation. Tom was instrumental in getting water agencies like WMWD, RCWD, EMWD, MNWD, LVWD and others to refine and improve weather-based sustainable water rate structures and billing systems.
Our team at HydroPoint can truly say that Tom didn’t just positively impact those who knew him. He helped countless communities lessen their footprint on the planet. His positive attitude and service to the planet has touched us all. Our best wishes and love to Tom’s family and friends at this time. “Saving water” won’t be the same without him.