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Sweetwater Authority Announces New Leadership Roles for Two Board Members

Chula Vista, Calif. – Two of Sweetwater Authority’s Governing Board Members were recently appointed to local advisory committees for watershed restoration and local agency formation.

Escondido Plant Maintenance Technician Joseph Lucero won third place in the 2019 California Water Environmental Association Awards for his safety device.

Innovation Improves Safety, Wins Award for Escondido Wastewater Technician

An Escondido water employee’s ingenuity improved safety at a city treatment plant and won a statewide water industry award.

City of Escondido Plant Maintenance Technician Joseph Lucero won third place in the “Gimmicks/Gadgets” category in the 2019 California Water Environmental Association Awards competition. His innovative safety device turns a difficult two-person job working on wastewater pumps into a safer process one person can complete alone.

Lucero, a 20-year veteran in the water and wastewater industry, recently transferred to his current assignment at the city’s Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Facility (HARRF), a secondary treatment facility which can treat a flow of 18 million gallons per day for the City of Escondido and the Rancho Bernardo area of San Diego.

“When I transferred and started working on the grit pumps, I understood why it was among the least favorite jobs to do,” said Lucero.

Brainstorming creates innovative approach

The bulky cover originally required two men in tight quarters to move safety. Lucero's device allows it to be removed and replaced safely by one person. Photo: Courtesy John Del Fante

The bulky cover originally required two men in tight quarters to move safety. Lucero’s device allows it to be removed and replaced safely by one person. Photo: Courtesy John Del Fante, CIty of Escondido

Workers found it difficult to maneuver the heavy, bulky cover over the rotor assembly of the pump. Two people were needed to muscle the cover in tight quarters, and it carried a risk of back strain.

Lucero says he started to brainstorm, tapping his water industry experience.

“I was determined to come up with a device or a technique to eliminate the back fatigue, reduce time, and increase safety,” he said.

Without an existing device or specialty tool available to perform necessary maintenance or repairs, it meant Lucero had to design and fabricate something brand new.

Team effort results in improved safety

Lucero worked on the project during his off-hours.

He first designed the cover device on paper from an original concept, and then made a cardboard sample to produce a mock-up he could work with for placement, fit, and accuracy. A prototype was created which consisted of a bracket, a height adjustment all thread, chain sling device, and the pump cover attachment plates.

After testing the design, Lucero says he received key help from Raul Adame, a Plant Systems Technician at HARRF. Adame fabricated alignment tabs at his machine shop at home to help improve the device.

Lucero always believed in his innovative tool, but said it worked even better than he expected.

New device saves time and costs

“It was an immediate hit with those that work on the grit pumps,” Lucero said. “It saves time, money, and more importantly creates a safer work environment.”

Lucero’s innovative creation is used by all personnel when performing predicative maintenance and repairs on the grit pumps.

“The device turned a two-person job into a one-person job,” said John Del Fante, operations superintendent at the facility. “This device allows an individual to support the full weight of the pump cover, clean the interior easily, and reinstall. It used to take two people to muscle this piece in and out of place.”

For Lucero, winning his award for innovation was an unexpected and welcome surprise.

Plant System Technician Jason Blacksher, a co-worker Lucero calls “my biggest supporter in designing the device,” submitted the CWEA award nomination.

“We are going through a safety culture change at HARRF and it’s working,” said Lucero. “I am surrounded by talented, knowledgeable and innovative co-workers. I learn from them every day as we grow as a team on the path to a safety conscious and innovative culture.”


Cabazon, Twenty-Nine Palms Tribes Create Air Quality Monitoring Station In Indio

The Cabazon and Twenty-Nine Palms tribes have joined together to create an air-quality monitoring station in Indio to keep residents better informed about their health. Air quality is a concern in the Coachella Valley, where high levels of smog from Los Angeles hovers and toxic dust rises from the nearby Salton Sea as the water recedes.

For the tribes, that (the Salton Sea) was the driving factor to start looking at developing an air-quality monitoring program,” said Shawn Muir, environmental coordinator for the Twenty-Nine Palms Tribal EPA.

The Salton Sea is about 20 minutes by car from Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians tribal land.

Earth Just Had Its Hottest June On Record, On Track For Warmest July

Boosted by a historic heat wave in Europe and unusually warm conditions across the Arctic and Eurasia, the average temperature of the planet soared to its highest level ever recorded in June.

According to data released Monday by NASA, the global average temperature was 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit (0.93 Celsius) above the June norm (based on a 1951-to-1980 baseline), easily breaking the previous June record of 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit (0.82 Celsius), set in 2016, above the average.

The month was punctuated by a severe heat wave that struck Western Europe in particular during the last week, with numerous all-time-hottest-temperature records falling in countries with centuries-old data sets.

Off-The-Charts Heat To Impact Millions Across The U.S., Report finds

Dangerous and potentially lethal bouts of heat — driven by the unabated burning of fossil fuels — could fast spread to parts of the United States unaccustomed to such blazing hot conditions.

That’s according to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research Communications. According to the findings, if humanity doesn’t dramatically rein in greenhouse gas emissions by midcentury, more than 6 million people from California to Louisiana to Kansas could regularly experience what experts call “off the charts” heat.

Bureau of Reclamation Awards $5.1 Million In Research For New Ways To Desalinate Water

The Bureau of Reclamation announced that 30 projects will receive $5.1 million from the Desalination and Water Purification Research Program to develop improved and inexpensive ways to desalinate and treat impaired water.

“We are awarding grants to a diverse group of projects to reduce the cost, energy consumption and environmental impacts of treating impaired or otherwise unusable water for local communities across the country,” said Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. “This funding is a direct result of the Trump Administration’s commitment to increase water supply and delivery through improved technology.”

New Technology Could Help Salmon Swim Over Hydroelectric Dams

A Seattle company called Whooshh Innovations has developed a creative way for fish to swim over hydroelectric dams. This product creates a pressure difference around the salmon, sucking the fish up a long tube and releasing it at the top of the dam.

“We do introduce a little bit of water to keep them moist and keep their gills moist and all those kinds of things for the few seconds it takes them to get through the system,” said Mike Dearan, Whooshh’s chief engineer.

IID Votes To Lower Conserved Water Payments To Farmers

After nearly two hours of contentious debate, the Imperial Irrigation District board voted unanimously July 9 on a hybrid plan to lower payments made to farmers for their on-farm conservation program.

The purpose for conserving water was not necessarily the drought conditions of the past two decades, but the 2003 QSA in which the San Diego County Water Authority received transferred water from the Valley via Metropolitan Water District (MWD), first through fallowing then as growers geared up, to conserved on-farm water.


‘Greywater’ Could Help Solve Colorado’s Water Problems. Why Aren’t We All Using It?

Your shower, sink and laundry machine account for more than half of indoor water use. Since the wastewater that circles the drain doesn’t come from the toilet, it’s safe to reuse on things like your garden.Those hip to reuse call it greywater. To state and local governments, it’s graywater. However you spell it, it’s an idea that everyone agrees will save water — but not everyone agrees on how it should be done.

Colorado was the last Western state to legalize greywater usage in 2013. Officials say that by 2050, our water supply could fall short for over one million people. Climate change makes the future of Colorado water even more uncertain.

OPINION: California Refuses To Enlist Clean, Cheap Hydropower In Fight Against Climate Change. It Makes No Sense

Is the cleanest, greenest electricity in the world green enough for California? For years, the people of the Northern San Joaquin Valley have been trying to get hydropower recognized for what it is: the original source of clean electricity. Our efforts have been stymied by people who feel entitled to decide what is, or isn’t, green enough. That’s why I have begun the process of modifying our state Constitution to recognize safe, abundant, carbon-free hydropower as a reliable source of renewable energy in our fight against climate change. I have authored Assembly Constitutional Amendment 17 to place this question before California’s voters.