Kenneth L. Edwards, the general manager and chief engineer of the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District from 1978 through 1995, passed away on Thursday (Feb. 4) in Riverside. He was 85.
Mr. Edwards, who lived in Riverside, worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Los Angeles before joining the flood-control district in 1962. He remained with the district for nearly 34 years, the last 17 years as chief engineer. During that time, the need for drainage infrastructure expanded along with Riverside County’s tremendous growth. Under Mr. Edwards’ direction, the district constructed several hundred miles of open channels and underground storm drains as well as numerous levees, dams and detention basins. All told, those facilities cost more than $220 million.
As chief engineer, he assembled a professional staff and guided them in in their goal to spare Riverside County residents from the devastation of uncontrolled flooding. An accomplished engineer and mentor, he was a strong leader who was highly respected by his peers. In recognition of his contribution to the district and to residents, the Board of Supervisors in 1996 named the district headquarters in Riverside the Kenneth L. Edwards Flood Control Center in his honor.
Mr. Edwards also was instrumental in creating a partnership between the Army Corps and the flood control districts in San Bernardino and Orange counties that led to the Santa Ana Mainstem Project. That effort resulted in a $1.4 billion authorization in 1986 for a flood-control project spanning 75 miles along the Santa Ana River, from the San Bernardino Mountains downstream to the Pacific Ocean at Newport Beach.
Mr. Edwards was born in Valparaiso, Ind., and graduated from Valparaiso University in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1952 to 1956. He received his master’s in civil engineering from the University of Southern California in 1965 and a master’s degree in public administration from USC in 1976.
Mr. Edwards is survived by his wife, Marilyn; his daughter, Cheryl; and his son, Paul. Information on services is pending.