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Third grader Jeeanna Mendoza fro, Camarena Elementary School, won first place in the Otay Water District student poster contest in the K-3 category. Photo: Otay Water District

Otay Student Poster Contest Winners Illustrate Importance of Water-Use Efficiency

Six talented elementary school students were recognized on August 7 by the Otay Water District Board of Directors as the winners of the District’s “Water is Life” Student Poster Contest.

As one of the Otay Water District’s educational programs, the contest offers an opportunity for students to showcase their creativity while reflecting on the importance of using water efficiently in their daily lives. Students were encouraged to illustrate the value of water used both inside and outside the home as an informational poster intended to educate others.

“We’re proud to offer students this opportunity to have fun and be creative, while at the same time thinking and learning about water conservation,” said Otay Water District General Manager Mark Watton.

More than 245 students from 10 different schools in the District’s service area submitted entries. The District judged the entries based on categories in two grade categories: kindergarten through third grade, and fourth through sixth grade. First, second and third prize winners were chosen from each category.

Winners received an award certificate, gift card, art kit, and a goodie bag filled with District promotional items. The lucky first place winners in each category also received a pizza party for their entire class.

The six posters winners were submitted by students in the Chula Vista Elementary School District.

jeeanna Mendoza, Grade 3, Camarena Elementary School (first place; K-3)

Jeeanna Mendoza, Grade 3, Camarena Elementary School (first place; K-3). Photo: Otay Water District

  • Jeeanna Mendoza, Grade 3, Camarena Elementary School (First Place; K-3)

Amerie Constantino, Grade 1, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (second place; K-3). Photo: Otay Water District

Amerie Constantino, Grade 1, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (second place; K-3). Photo: Otay Water District

  • Amerie Constantino, Grade 1, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (Second Place; K-3)

Miguel-Angel Gonzalez, Grade 2, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (third place; K -3). Photo: Otay Water District

  • Miguel-Angel Gonzalez, Grade 2, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (Third Place; K-3)

Maya Santana, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (first place; 4-6). Photo: Otay Water District

Maya Santana, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (first place; 4-6). Photo: Otay Water District

  • Maya Santana, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (First Place; 4-6)

Malayiah Williams, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (Second Place; 4-6). Photo: Otay Water District

Malayiah Williams, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (Second Place; 4-6). Photo: Otay Water District

  • Malayiah Williams, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (Second Place; 4-6)

Rin Smith, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (Third Place; 4-6). Photo: Otay Water District

Rin Smith, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (Third Place; 4-6). Photo: Otay Water District

  • Rin Smith, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (Third Place; 4-6)

Otay Water District winners advance to regional contest

In addition, according to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s 2020 Student Art Calendar Contest rules, the District submitted five of the six winning posters to MWD’s contest. MWD will select 36 posters from its overall regional entries to be displayed in its 2020 “Water is Life” calendar. The winners will be honored at a student art exhibit and recognition event in December.

To learn more about the Otay Water District’s “Water is Life” Student Poster Contest, go to otaywater.gov/education.

READ MORE: San Diego County Students Inspire Water Conservation Through Art

Sweetwater Authority Utility Worker II Julio Salazar's innovative new tool won recognition from the Association of California Water Agencies. Photo: Sweetwater Authority Sweetwater Authority employee

Award-Winning, Time-Saving Tool Created by Sweetwater Authority Employee

For his initiative in designing and creating a new tool designed to improve safety and efficiency on the job, Sweetwater Authority employee Julio Salazar won the Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority  H.R. LaBounty Safety Award.

The award recognized Salazar for creating a ‘Large AMS Stabilizing Tool.’ Salazar’s design resulted in making the process of replacing 1.5 inch and two inch angle meter stops, or AMS, easier, more ergonomic, and safer.

“Our water professionals are industry leaders, finding new ways to work smarter and safer,” said Tish Berge, general manager. “Sweetwater Authority could not be more proud of Julio’s tool and much deserved recognition.”

The H.R. LaBounty Safety Award recognizes water industry employees who implement significant safety improvements to prevent occupational injuries/illness. Winners are recognized twice a year.

See a demonstration of the new award-winning tool.

Salazar, a Utility Worker II with Sweetwater, came up with the idea after talking with co-workers about ways to improve the process. In the past, replacing an AMS often required employees to break out the meter box in order to make enough space to fit large wrenches and tools.

The process was often awkward and difficult, adding strain on the employee who had to remove the AMS at an odd angle. The concrete panel would also need to be replaced, adding to the time, cost, and safety risk associated with the replacement.

The new tool is designed to secure the AMS using meter bolts, and can be placed in-line with the service lateral. Once secured, an employee can simply use an adjustable wrench to loosen or tighten the bottom nut on the AMS. It eliminates the need to break the meter box, and gives the employee a more comfortable, ergonomic grip while working. It also makes the process safer.

Salazar says the design is similar to existing stabilizing tools, but there was nothing quite the right size for the 1.5 inch and 2 inch AMS – until now.

Water industry professionals recognized for safety improvements

Sweetwater Authority Utility Worker II Julio Salazar displays his H.R. LaBounty Safety Award Sweetwater Authority employeerecognition certificate from the Association of California Water Agencies. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Sweetwater Authority Utility Worker II Julio Salazar displays his H.R. LaBounty Safety Award recognition certificate from the Association of California Water Agencies. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

The Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority – ACWA JPIA for short – is a partnership of water agencies dedicated to avoiding the high cost of commercial insurance. JPIA is a risk-sharing pool for property, liability, workers’ compensation and employee benefits, which allows for more rate stability for customers, broader coverage and expanded benefits and services than private insurance.

READ MORE: Proactive Partnerships Keep Pipelines In Top Shape

 

Award-Winning, Time-Saving Tool Created by Sweetwater Authority Employee

For his initiative in designing and creating a new tool designed to improve safety and efficiency on the job, Sweetwater Authority employee Julio Salazar won the Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority H.R. LaBounty Safety Award. The award recognized Salazar for creating a ‘Large AMS Stabilizing Tool.’ Salazar’s design resulted in making the process of replacing 1.5 inch and two inch angle meter stops, or AMS, easier, more ergonomic, and safer. “Our water professionals are industry leaders, finding new ways to work smarter and safer,” said Tish Berge, general manager. “Sweetwater Authority could not be more proud of Julio’s tool and much deserved recognition.”

The winning water sample was taken directly from the Richard A. Reynolds Desalination Facility, the same water provided to its customers. Photo: Sweetwater Authority Bset Tasting Water Award

Sweetwater Authority Wins ‘Best Tasting Membrane Water’ Award

The Sweetwater Authority Governing Board was presented with the Southwest Membrane Operators Association (SWMOA) ‘Best Tasting Membrane Water in the Southwest Region Award’ at its July 24 board meeting.

The award recognizes the Authority’s Richard A. Reynolds Desalination Facility as the winner of the Best Tasting Membrane Water Competition held during the SWMOA Annual Symposium in June.

The winning water sample was taken directly from the Richard A. Reynolds Desalination Facility, the same water provided to its customers. Judges based their assessment on the following criteria: taste, odor, color, clarity, mouthfeel, and aftertaste.

Among the participants in the competition representing water agencies from the Southwest United States, the Authority received the highest cumulative score.

Facility provides Authority customers with one-third of their annual water supply

The Richard A. Reynolds Desalination Facility is a state-of-the-art groundwater desalination facility Photo: Sweetwater Authority Best Tasting Membrane Water Award

The Richard A. Reynolds Desalination Facility is a state-of-the-art groundwater desalination facility Photo: Sweetwater Authority

The Richard A. Reynolds Desalination Facility in Chula Vista is a state-of-the-art groundwater desalination facility designed to use reverse-osmosis membrane treatment to remove dissolved salts and microscopic particles, such as bacteria and other contaminants which can be found in groundwater. The facility can produce up to 10 million gallons of drinking water per day, enough for approximately 18,000 families, and provides Authority customers with about one-third of their annual water supply.

The facility began operating in 1999 drawing brackish groundwater from five wells. That same year, the facility was honored with a San Diego Orchid award in the competition’s environmental solutions category. Its phase two expansion was completed in 2017.

The facility’s sustainable design also includes 2,950 ground-mounted solar PV panels as an alternative energy source. The solar array offsets the cost of treating water and reduces the facility’s overall carbon footprint.

The facility was previously honored with the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Project of the Year award, as well as the South County Economic Development Council’s Corky McMillin/Best of South County Award.

Among the participants in the competition representing water agencies from the Southwest region of the country, the Authority received the highest cumulative score. Photo: Sweetwater Authority Best Tasting Membrane Water Award

Among the participants in the competition representing water agencies from the Southwest region of the country,  Sweetwater Authority received the highest cumulative score. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

The Southwest Membrane Operator Association is an affiliate of the American Membrane Technology Association and dedicated to the Southwest United States region including, but not limited to Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah.

READ MORE: San Diego’s Farmer of the Year Taps Every Drop

Sweetwater Authority’s Desalination Facility Wins ‘Best Tasting Water’ Award

Chula Vista, Calif. – On Wednesday, July 24, the Sweetwater Authority (Authority) Governing Board was presented with the Southwest Membrane Operators Association (SWMOA) Best Tasting Membrane Water in the Southwest Region Award. The award recognizes the Authority’s Richard A. Reynolds Desalination Facility as the winner of the Best Tasting Membrane Water Competition held during the SWMOA Annual Symposium in June.

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.”

 

ENR Announces 2019 Global Best Projects Winners

After much analysis and debate, a panel of industry veterans has selected the winners of ENR’s 7th annual Global Best Projects competition. Like ENR’s successful regional and national U.S. competitions, Global Best Projects identifies and honors the project teams behind outstanding design and construction efforts of the past year.

Sweetwater Authority Receives National Award for 2018 Securing Our Water Future Public Outreach Campaign

Chula Vista, Calif. – On Monday, June 10, Sweetwater Authority (Authority) received the American Water Works Association (AWWA) Public Communications Achievement Award at the 2019 Annnual Conference & Expo (ACE) held in Denver, Colorado. The prestigious award recognizes excellence and achievement in the field of public affairs among water utilities in North America. The Authority received the award in recognition for its strategic and comprehensive outreach campaign surrounding the 2018 five-year rate study titled “Securing Our Water Future.”

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

OMWD Honored with Distinguished Budget Award for Eighteenth Consecutive Year

Encinitas, Calif. — At its May 22 meeting, Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors accepted for its 2018-2019 fiscal year budget the Government Finance Officers Association’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. This marks the eighteenth consecutive year OMWD has achieved this award.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Recycled Water Pipelines Named ‘Project of the Year’

Encinitas, Calif.—American Public Works Association’s San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter has recognized Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Avenida La Posta Recycled Water Project as “Project of the Year.” The award, celebrating OMWD’s engineering and project management efforts, was presented yesterday at a reception at Paradise Point Resort in San Diego.