You are now in California and the U.S. Media Coverage category.

OPINION: If We’re Smart, We Can Find Enough Water For All Of Us

The Modesto Bee has expressed a strong negative opinion of the State Water Resources Control Board’s proposal to require additional water to be left in the Tuolumne River and other San Joaquin tributaries to improve water quality and the environment.

Regrettably, what has received little attention in this debate are the opportunities for improving water management to meet the agricultural and environmental demands placed on these rivers.

Unusually Warm Southern California Ocean Helps Break Temperature Records in San Diego

Sea-surface temperatures along the coast of Southern California have grown unusually warm in the last month, contributing to record-breaking temperatures and uncomfortable humidity in San Diego.

The ocean temperatures warmed from a hot weather pattern in place across California this summer, which vaulted the state to its warmest July on record. The hotter-than-average conditions are due to a persistent area of high pressure in the upper atmosphere.

California Public Utilities Commission’s Proposed Decision Backs Cal Am Desalination Project

In a major development for California American Water’s long-sought desalination project, the California Public Utilities Commission has issued a proposed decision recommending approval of the proposal known as the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project.

In a 223-page filing, a three-judge panel found that Cal Am’s desal project is the best option available to provide the Monterey Peninsula with a timely replacement water supply to offset the state water board’s Carmel River pumping cutback order and the need to reduce pumping from the adjudicated Seaside basin. Judges Gary Weatherford, Robert Haga and Darcie Houck also recommended certifying the project’s combined environmental review document, arguing that project impacts could either be mitigated or would be outweighed by the project’s benefits.

Water Regulators Help Target Black Market Marijuana Farmers

After Riverside County deputies raided an unlicensed cannabis farm in the small, unincorporated community of Aguanga, they found nearly 3,000 plants growing scattered between the brush.

The tip that led Sgt. Tyson Voss and his team to that illicit farm last month came from a source you might not expect: the Cannabis Enforcement Unit of the California State Water Resources Control Board.

The state water agency created a pilot cannabis team four years ago to investigate marijuana growers in Northern California who divert or pollute waterways in their effort to profit via cannabis. Last year, the enforcement effort expanded into Southern California, with increased staffing in Santa Ana that’s part of a broader push to minimize the damage that cannabis cultivation can wreak on water quality and water supply.

Bobby Bond Jr. shows the skills that won him the title of "Master Opeartor" at the 2018 MSA San DIego/APWA Skills Competition. Poto: Courtesy MSA San DIego

Water Authority A Winner At Skills Competition

Two San Diego County Water Authority employees took home first place honors in the annual – and unusual – competition that tests the mettle of public works professionals with backhoes, wheelbarrows and other tools of the trade.

Bobby Bond Jr. of the San Diego County Water Authority wins the title of "Master Operator" at the MSA San Diego/APWA 2018 Skills Competition. Photo: Courtesy MSA San DIego

Bobby Bond Jr. of the San Diego County Water Authority wins the title of “Master Operator” at the MSA San Diego/APWA 2018 Skills Competition. Photo: Courtesy MSA San DIego

And one Water Authority veteran – Bobby Bond Jr. – earned the title of 2018 Master Operator for completing all the events in the lowest combined time.

Twelve teams of four crew members participated, and 24 operators vied for the title of Master Operator at the July event hosted by the San Diego Chapter of the Maintenance Supervisors Association and American Public Works Association in Chula Vista.

The City of Chula Vista won the team title for 2018, followed by the City of El Cajon and the Water Authority in third place. Representing the Water Authority was the four-man team of Bond, Patrick Barreiro, John Brown and Tony Cepeda.

Brown took first in the backhoe operator category, and Cepeda won first place in the wheelbarrow skills. He said his co-workers have been supportive and happy with the Water Authority team’s third place finish.

“It’s fun, it’s teamwork building, and having a good time,” he said. “We work with each other every day, we are like a family here.”

Annual event tests same skills used maintaining vital infrastructure

The annual event tests the same skills participants use while maintaining water and wastewater systems, streets, and other vital infrastructure residents and businesses rely on every day. Tasks included Backhoe Skills, Skid Steer Skills, Mini-Excavator Skills, Sign Assembly, and Wheelbarrow Skills. The team with the best overall combined time won the perpetual trophy, along with bragging rights.

After winning the backhoe category in 2017, Bond captured the 2018 Master Operator title by completing tasks in the lowest overall combined time. He said the competition may be challenging, but it is child’s play compared to the work he and his colleagues perform every day for the Water Authority.

“I’ve dug around utilities including chemical lines, fiber optic lines, and around aqueducts,” said Bond. “I once dug a water line 200 feet and crossed 40 different utilities.”

Brown agrees. “Knocking a tennis ball off a cone (in competition) equals breaking a pipe potentially” on the job, he said.

Cepeda, a Maintenance Worker I who has been with the Water Authority just over a year, helps maintain roads along major Water Authority pipeline corridors and other major structures. “I went for it, gave it a shot, and out of luck I took first place,” said Cepeda. His strategy in maneuvering the wheelbarrow on the course against the clock? “Just run fast!”

Also winning honors was David Hernado of the Vallecitos Water District, who placed first in the Sign Assembly Skills Competition.

Brown and Bond Jr. will compete for Water Authority in upcoming national competition

John Brown of the San Diego County Water Authority wins the Backhoe Skills category at the MSA San Diego/APWA 2018 Skills Competition. Photo: Courtesy MSA San DIego

Along with the good-natured competition, the event’s main objective is to provide valuable training, and showcase the Maintenance Supervisors Association vendors who provide the materials, supplies, and equipment needed to keep regional public works functioning at their highest level. Three hundred members attended this year’s event.

APWA will sponsor the top two equipment operators including Brown and Bond Jr. to compete at the 2018 APWA PWX National APWA ROADEO in Kansas City, Missouri on August 28-29. “We’re real busy at work, we’re running every day,” said Bond, which will allow him and Brown to get in plenty of practice before heading to Kansas City.

The full list of results:

Wheel Barrow Skills Competition:

Tony Cepeda of the San Diego County Water Authority wins the Wheel Barrow Skills category at the MSA San Diego/APWA 2018 Skills Competition. Photo: Courtesy MSA San DIego

1st Place
Tony Cepeda, San Diego County Water Authority 1 minute, 1 second

2nd Place
Sean McRory, City of Encinitas, 1 minute, 2 seconds

3rd Place
Margarito Corado, City of Chula Vista, 1 minute, 4 Seconds
Mario Serrano, City of Vista, 1 minute, 4 Seconds

Sign Assembly Skills Competition:

1st Place – Tie
David Hernado, Vallecitos Water District. 2 minutes, 29 Seconds

2nd Place
Esteban Garcia, City of El Cajon, 2 minutes, 34 Seconds

3rd Place
Arturo Garcia, City of San Diego, 2 minutes, 38 Seconds

Backhoe Operator Competition:

1st Place
John Brown, San Diego County Water Authority, 1 minute, 35 Seconds

2nd Place
Bobby Bond, San Diego County Water Authority, 1 minutes, 36 Seconds

3rd Place
Bryce Greschke, City of Poway, 1 minute, 51 Seconds

Skid Steer Operator Competition:

1st Place
Brian Smith, City of La Mesa, 1 minutes, 40 Seconds

2nd Place
Derek Imoto, City of Encinitas, 2 minutes, 11 Seconds

3rd Place
John Brown, San Diego County Water Authority, 2 minutes, 33 Seconds

Mini Excavator Operator Competition:

1st Place
Geovanni Meza, City of El Cajon, 38 Seconds

2nd Place
John Collingwood, City of San Diego, 39 Seconds

3rd Place
Bobby Bond, San Diego County Water Authority, 47 Seconds

Overall “Roadeo” Competition Champions

1st Place
City of Chula Vista, 9 minutes, 56 Seconds

2nd Place
City of El Cajon, 10 minutes, 26 Seconds

3rd Place
San Diego County Water Authority, 11 minutes, 5 Seconds