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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.”

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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.

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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.

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Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s 4S Ranch Water Reclamation Facility Named Recycled Water Plant of the Year in Statewide Competition

Encinitas, Calif. — Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s 4S Ranch Water Reclamation Facility was recognized today by California Water Environment Association as its 2019 Plant of the Year (Small). The award was presented during CWEA’s Annual Conference in Palm Springs and acknowledges OMWD’s efforts to increase water supply reliability by reducing imported water demand.

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OMWD Recognized for Water Advocacy in Washington

Encinitas, Calif.—The Association of California Water Agencies recognized Olivenhain Municipal Water District today with its “Most Effective Agency on Federal Issues” award. The award was presented to OMWD General Manager Kimberly Thorner at ACWA’s annual conference in Washington, DC.

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Water Authority Wins 2018 WaterSense Excellence Award

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today recognized the San Diego County Water Authority with a 2018 WaterSense Excellence Award for advancing water efficiency through its Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) program. The Water Authority received one of 21 WaterSense awards presented at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference in Las Vegas.

The San Diego County Water Authority presented its inaugural Water Innovation & Efficiency Award to Kyocera. Photo: Water Authority

Kyocera First Recipient of New Water Authority Award

In an effort to remind regional stakeholders in the business community about the importance of water to San Diego’s regional economy, the San Diego County Water Authority presented its inaugural ‘Water Innovation & Efficiency Award’ to Kyocera International during the Industrial Environmental Association’s 34th annual conference at the San Diego Convention Center on September 28.

Kyocera was honored for its strong commitment to reusing water multiple in its production processes, thereby decreasing its water use by nearly 20 percent since 2014. This conserves more than 6 million gallons per year.

“Water is our most precious natural resource, and it’s so rewarding to see major employers like Kyocera redouble their efforts to use – and re-use – water efficiently,” said Jim Madaffer, whose term as chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors starts Oct. 1. “Corporate leadership like this, coupled with investments in water supply reliability, will help sustain our thriving economy and unparalleled quality of life.”

Madaffer presented the award to Kyocera in front of about 250 people at the conference. “There are a lot of folks in the industrial community here in San Diego,” he said. “By Kyocera’s example, we’re hoping that other companies follow their lead, being able to do what they can to save water for all of our region as well.”

Kyocera’s Meridith Marquis, Roger Blankenship and Mark Brodie accepted the award on behalf of the company.“Kyocera’s corporate motto is ‘Respect the Divine and Love People,’ which compels us to manufacture in resource-saving, eco-friendly ways,” said Marquis, divisional vice president for general affairs. “It takes a lot of water to manufacture the technology that surrounds us, and we must act in good conscience to recycle as much of that water as possible. The fact that we can save money while doing this makes it a win-win all around.”

View the award presentation video here.

Kyocera’s innovative efforts pay off

Headquartered in San Diego, Kyocera’s North American operations were established in 1971. Today, the company employs about 625 people locally and manufactures high-tech products such as ceramic semiconductor packages and microelectronic devices at its San Diego plant.

Kyocera has been investing in water-use efficiency at its local plant since 2000, with a marked increase in savings since 2014. Recent water savings result from:

  • Converting to a closed-loop cooling system that uses water multiple times instead of once
  • Re-using water from plating operations to cool its onsite co-generation plant
  • Installing water meters for production groups and making them accountable for water use
  • Adding flow regulators to fine-tune the amount of water delivered for manufacturing processes
  • Replenishing plating tanks only when necessary instead of continuously

Kyocera achieved significant water savings by installing a basic, off-the-shelf $30 valve allowing the company to repurpose reverse osmosis water that didn’t meet purity standards, and instead use it as cooling water. This single creative adjustment alone saved about 373,000 gallons per month. In all, Kyocera is saving about $62,500 a year in water costs compared to 2014, while upholding its corporate mission to embrace sustainability.

The Water Innovation & Efficiency Award is part of the Water Authority’s Brought to You by Water outreach and education program, designed to enhance the regional appreciation for the value of the safe and reliable water supplies. That effort includes enhanced partnerships to highlight the importance of water reliability to the region’s economy for tourism, agriculture, brewing, manufacturing and other key sectors.

This fall, the Water Authority is focusing on manufacturing companies with “products that put San Diego on the map.” For more information, go to the Brought To You By Water website.

 

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Water Authority Presents Kyocera With 2018 Water Innovation & Efficiency Award

San Diego, Calif. – The San Diego County Water Authority this morning presented its 2018 Water Innovation & Efficiency Award to Kyocera for reducing its annual water use by more than 6 million gallons at its San Diego facility, a decrease of nearly 20 percent since 2014.

The award marks the Water Authority’s inaugural effort to recognize water-efficiency investments among the region’s top manufacturing companies in conjunction with the Industrial Environmental Association. The 2018 Water Innovation & Efficiency Award was announced at the IEA’s 34th Annual Environmental Conference at the San Diego Convention Center.