Tom McCann is a lawyer who joined CAP in 1994 and represented CAP on Indian water rights, interstate water banking, Colorado River, Navajo Generating Station and other matters.  He served as Senior Attorney, Resource Planning Manager and Assistant General Manager before being named Deputy General Manager, responsible for operations, maintenance, power, technology and employee services.  He retired in 2019.

Tom McCann: Adding Value in Arizona’s Water Community

(The story below is built around a recorded interview)

After working in private practice for five years, lawyer Tom McCann was disillusioned.  Wondering if his work really made a difference. So he quit his job. Did some patent work and played a lot of golf. When he saw the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District advertising for a water lawyer, he paid attention.

“I thought well, I took a water law class in law school and water, that’s gotta be important in Arizona, and I knew nothing other than that about it, but I put in my application,” said McCann.

In October 1994, he started his career at Central Arizona Project in its Legal Department, and spent the next 25 years learning the ins-and-outs of water. When he retired as Deputy General Manager in 2019, he was an expert on Arizona water, the Law of the River and CAP maintenance.

His career took him to various departments at CAP. He spent the first 12 years in the Legal Department, working on repayment of the Federal Government, Tribal water settlements, endangered species and more. In 2006, became the Manager of the newly formed Resource Planning and Analysis Department, working closely on Colorado River issues and eventually becoming the Assistant General Manager.

His career experienced a significant change when, in 2014, he became the leader of CAP’s Maintenance Group, a complete departure from his education and experience. But he embraced it.

“I had a lot of learning to do,” he said. “But it was a good experience for me, and they were also very good about bringing me along, educating me in the maintenance.”

Following that position, McCann tackled asset management, with the goal of increasing collaboration across the organization. In 2016, he was named Deputy General Manager, where he spent the last three years of his career.

During his career, he worked under all four General Managers, was responsible for the majority of departments at one time or another, and became a recognized leader who truly added value to CAP and Arizona’s water community.

“I wanted this to be a job that I could feel good about, and a mission, an organization that I could feel good about and I have,” said McCann. “It’s not just a job that you go to, it’s a mission. It’s a calling.”

Read Tom McCann's Oral History Transcript
Listen to Tom McCann's Interview