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Faces of the Water Industry-San Diego County Water Authority-Water News Network

Faces of the Water Industry Highlights Water Pros, Career Opportunities

The San Diego County Water Authority, in partnership with its member agencies, has launched “Faces of the Water Industry,” a social media outreach campaign highlighting the diversity of people and careers in the region’s water and wastewater industry.

The Water Authority is featuring photos and videos from 20 employees representing nine water agencies across the region, including the Water Authority.

The Faces of the Water Industry campaign was inspired by the ACWA‘s California Water Professionals Appreciation Week, which highlights the important role of water industry professionals and local public water agencies in ensuring safe and reliable water, wastewater and recycled water operations in California.

Follow the Water Authority on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to read inspiring thoughts and stories from the region’s water and wastewater pros – the Faces of the Water Industry.

Faces of the Water Industry – Otay Water District

Theresa Kreinbring, Business Systems Analyst II at Otay Water District

“As a Business Systems Analyst, I work behind the scenes to ensure all applications are running to support the frontline staff,” said Theresa Kreinbring, Business Systems Analyst II at Otay Water District. “I want to provide the best service for them so they can better serve the community. A career in the water industry has been very rewarding. Water is our most valuable resource on earth, and I am grateful to be a part of it.” 

Faces of the Water Industry –  Sweetwater Authority

Luisa Ruiz, Senior Accountant at Sweetwater Authority

“The most rewarding aspect of my work is applying my technical skills gained over the life of my career to Sweetwater Authority’s Finance department,” said Luisa Ruiz, Senior Accountant at Sweetwater Authority. “As a Senior Accountant, I get to bring new ideas, process improvements, and lead a team to successfully provide our customers, community, and employees with exceptional reliable service in finance. It is rewarding being part of an agency whose mission is to provide our customers with safe and reliable water to a community I grew up in and am part of.” 

Faces of the Water Industry – Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Daniel Lockart, Systems Operator/Pump Technician at Padre Dam Municipal Water District

“When I first came here, I was new to the industry and I relied heavily on mentors within the district for advice and suggestions and they often used lessons learned from previous experiences to help teach me,” said Daniel Lockart, Systems Operator/Pump Technician at Padre Dam Municipal Water District. “Today, I most enjoy helping train newer employees and bring them up as the next leaders in our industry.” 

Learn about career and training opportunities 

The water and wastewater industry offers vast opportunities for essential careers in engineering, operations, finance, public affairs, human resources, administration and information technology. 

The California Water Environmental Association (CWEA) is hosting two free career webinars for new and current water professionals. 

For job openings, internships and education opportunities across the San Diego region’s water and wastewater industry, go to sandiegowaterworks.org.

Rincon del Diablo MWD’s David Drake Honored with Industry Icon Award

David Drake, Treasurer of the Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District Board of Directors, was recently recognized with the 2020 Industry Icon Award by Water and Wastes Digest, an industry-related technical magazine which covers breaking news and new developments in water and wastewater products, projects, and technology.

A firefighter prepares to access the Meadowlark Reclamation Facility as part of confined space training drills conducted with the Vallecitos Water District. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos Water District Recognized for Best Safety Practices

Vallecitos Water District was among 16 California water agencies honored by the Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority with the H.R. LaBounty Safety Award.

Vallecitos won its award for its Confined Space Rescue Training coordinated with several regional fire agencies in November 2019.

Vallecitos Water District wanted to heighten safety awareness and improve procedures in its confined space entry and rescue during real-world situations. It took on a high level of coordination to bring in fire department personnel to conduct 12 days of joint training.

Firefighters are briefed on scene at the Meadowlark Reclamation Facility as part of confined space training drills conducted with the Vallecitos Water District. Photo: Vallecitos Water District safety practices

Firefighters are briefed on scene at the Meadowlark Reclamation Facility as part of confined space training drills conducted with the Vallecitos Water District. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

As a result of training, personnel were able to reduce potential hazards conducting entry into confined spaces, perform personnel rescues, and better manage hazardous materials present (gaseous chlorine).

“Because of our program, Vallecitos Water District and fire department personnel were able to increase interoperability and familiarity of each others’ technical rescue equipment,” said Trisha Woolslayer, risk management supervisor.

Safety award promotes safe water workplace practices

Wastewater Treatment Plant Supervisor Dawn McDougle, Senior Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Matt Wiese, Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators II Chris Deering, Ivan Murguia, Arturo Sanchez, and Marc Smith, Safety Technician Anette Longville, and Public Information Officer Alicia Yerman were recognized for their roles in organizing and conducting the training. All 13 members of the Vallecitos Water District Wastewater Collection System Crew participated in the training.

Fire department crews participating were from the cities of Carlsbad, San Marcos, Del Mar, Vista, Escondido, Oceanside, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Valley Center, and crews from North County Fire (Fallbrook), San Pasqual, Rincon, and Camp Pendleton.

The H.R. LaBounty Safety Award Program is designed for all JPIA members as a way to promote safe workplace behavior and operations practices while rewarding those employees who demonstrate safe behavior, take part in recognizable proactive activities, or participate in risk-reducing actions. It gives members another way to foster a safety culture that reduces the potential for losses.

The Ramona Municipal Water District and the Sweetwater Authority were also recognized among state water agencies for their safety initiatives.

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California County Shuts Down Fifth of Water Wells Over PFAS

California wants to slash the allowable levels in drinking water for two “forever chemical” compounds, immediately prompting agencies supplying water to 2.5 million residents in Orange County to remove a fifth of their wells from service.

The State Water Resources Control board Thursday said it planned to dramatically lower its response levels for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), though actual drinking water standards are still years away.

The response levels require water suppliers to install treatment, and remove wells from service if they exceed the thresholds. Notifying customers is required if districts plan to keep wells in service without treatment for an extended period.

Orange County oversees the area’s groundwater basin and provides water to 19 agencies, which rely on underground supplies for 77% of deliveries. The remainder comes from the Colorado River and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplies water to 19 million people in the region.

Opinion: Voluntary Agreements are a Better Plan for California

Gov. Gavin Newsom has consistently expressed support for successful completion of voluntary agreements as a path forward in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta. The California Natural Resources Agency and California Environmental Protection Agency recently described collaborative, voluntary agreements as a “game changer” for the environment. We strongly agree, and stand ready in bringing proactive decision makers to the table for the management of water in the Delta and its tributaries.

Will Californians Be Fined for Showering and Doing Laundry the Same Day?

Can you get fined for taking a shower and doing laundry on the same day? Not so, according to an association representing California water agencies.

In a statement issued Thursday, the Association of California Water Agencies shared clarifying information about water-use targets set forth by California Senate Bill 606 (Hertzberg) and Assembly Bill 1668 (Friedman), which was signed into effect in May 2018.

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors celebrated the agency’s 75th anniversary.

Water Authority Celebrates 75 Years of Service to San Diego County

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors celebrated the agency’s 75th anniversary during today’s Board meeting, which included 20 proclamations honoring the agency for its service to the region dating back to 1944.

Cities across the region joined the state Assembly and Senate, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and other state and local leaders to formally mark the occasion. The San Diego City Council and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors even proclaimed today “San Diego County Water Authority Day” in honor of the agency’s legacy of water supply reliability.

75 years of service

“Starting with the historic first water deliveries in the 1940s, the Water Authority has partnered with our member agencies to build, operate and maintain the vital infrastructure that supports our region’s $231 billion economy and unparalleled quality of life,” said Board Chair Jim Madaffer. “Our collective investments have created extraordinary advances in water supply reliability that are sustained by the daily vigilance necessary to operate and maintain such a complex system.

“While today we celebrate the past, the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies continue to focus on the future by fostering innovative solutions to ever-changing water resource challenges,” Madaffer said. “Together, we will supply the San Diego region with safe and reliable water supplies for generations to come.”

San Diego County Water Authority service sArea and 24 member agencies

Since 1991, the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have deployed one of the most aggressive water supply diversification strategies in the nation to improve regional water supply reliability. In the years ahead, member agency projects will play an increasingly important role in continuing to ensure reliability for the San Diego region.

Forward thinking on water

The Water Authority’s current forward-thinking efforts include developing water storage capacity in Lake Mead to provide additional drought resilience for San Diego and the Southwest.

The agency also is working closely with the City of San Diego to assess a potential pumped storage project at San Vicente Reservoir that could help meet clean energy goals and benefit water ratepayers. In addition, the Water Authority is analyzing the costs and benefits of a regional water conveyance system that could help San Diego County and the entire Southwest to more effectively manage water resources.

Profound impact

During today’s ceremonies, water agency, civic and business leaders noted the Water Authority’s profound impact on the San Diego region and wider water issues over the past 75 years.

  • “A reliable water supply is critical for San Diego’s regional economy and for maintaining a competitive business climate. The business community applauds the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies for their leadership, and for increasing the county’s water supply reliability with investments that keep our economy growing.” — Mark Cafferty, president and CEO, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp.
  • “It is a pleasure to celebrate the San Diego County Water Authority’s 75th anniversary. We share a common history and a common vision for water supply reliability that has been essential to the economic vitality and prosperity to all San Diegans. We look forward to strengthening our relationship to meet the future needs of San Diegans.” — Gloria D. Gray, chair, Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors
  • “Farming is a foundational piece of our regional economy and quality of life – but it doesn’t happen without a reliable water supply. Our farmers are constantly innovating to use water more efficiently by adopting new technology and planting more-efficient crops.” — Eric Larson, executive director, San Diego County Farm Bureau
  • “On behalf of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors, I salute the San Diego County Water Authority on its 75th anniversary. Our two agencies are partners in the nation’s largest agriculture to urban transfer and in the process, we have forged a durable alliance at the Salton Sea. It is a relationship that the IID highly values.” — Erik Ortega, president, Imperial County Irrigation District Board of Directors
  • “By combining a diversified set of water supply sources with greatly enhanced storage capacity, we are developing a more robust safety net for San Diego County.” — Jerry Sanders, president and CEO, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

On June 9, 1944, San Diego voters approved the Water Authority’s formation under the County Water Authority Act. Imported water arrived three years later to slake the thirst of a growing population just weeks before local supplies would have run out.

The modern era of the Water Authority started during deep, drought-induced water supply cuts in the early 1990s. Since then, Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have deployed one of the most aggressive water supply diversification strategies in the nation to improve regional water supply reliability.

At the same time, the agencies have aggressively helped to reduce per capita water use so that the total regional water use today is well below 1990 levels despite significant growth in the population and economy.

San Vicente Aqueduct

Officials commemorate installation of the first portion of pipe along the new Second Pipeline of the San Vicente Aqueduct in 1951. Photo: Water Authority

75th anniversary milestones

The Water Authority reached several major milestones over the past two decades. They include:

  • In 2003, Olivenhain Dam was the first major new dam built in San Diego in more than 50 years. At 318 feet, it was the tallest roller-compacted concrete dam at the time.
  • In 2008, the Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant north of San Marcos began operations. It was the largest submerged membrane water treatment plant in the world when it was commissioned.
  • In 2011, the San Vicente Tunnel and Pipeline Project – an 11-mile long, 12-foot diameter tunnel with an 8-1/2-foot diameter pipeline – created a link from the City of San Diego’s San Vicente Reservoir to the Water Authority’s Second Aqueduct, greatly improving the Water Authority’s ability to distribute water and store water in the reservoir.

San Vicente Dam raise

  • In 2012, the Lake Hodges Hydropower Facility started serving the dual purposes of connecting the lake to the Water Authority’s aqueduct system and generating 40 megawatts of clean, on-demand electricity.
  • In 2014, the San Vicente Dam Raise Project, the tallest dam-raise project in U.S. history, expanded the reservoir’s capacity by more than 157,000 acre-feet.
  • In 2015, the $1 billion Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, distribution pipeline and related facilities started commercial operations as the largest seawater desalination project in North America.
  • The Water Authority’s Asset Management Program, which includes a multi-year project to reline 82 miles of large-diameter prestressed concrete cylinder pipelines with new steel liners, helps to prevent pipeline failure and extend their lifespans by 75 years or more at significantly less cost than traditional pipeline replacement programs.
San Diego regional water quality regulators issued a new permit for the development of permanent, stand-alone seawater intake and discharge facilities at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: Water Authority

San Diego regional water quality regulators issued a new permit in May 2019 for the development of permanent, stand-alone seawater intake and discharge facilities at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: Water Authority

Worldwide recognition

The Water Authority’s innovative efforts have been recognized nationally and internationally.

In 2017, for instance, the president of the American Society of Civil Engineers recognized the Water Authority’s Emergency & Carryover Storage Project for winning ASCE’s top international engineering award.

The same year, Water Authority was honored by the Association of California Water Agencies – the nation’s largest statewide coalition of water agencies – for innovation and excellence in water resources management with its addition of supplies from the Carlsbad Desalination Project. And in 2016, the Water Authority received a top national award from the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies for its commitment to improving the region’s water supply reliability in a manner that balances economic, social and environmental needs.