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Sweetwater Authority Recognized as “District of Distinction”

Sweetwater Authority (Authority) received the “District of Distinction” accreditation by the Special District Leadership Foundation (SDLF) for its sound fiscal management policies and practices in district operations. This distinction, a prestigious title, is only possessed by two percent of the more than 4,000 Special Districts.

City of Escondido Water Quality Lab Associate Chemist Oyuna Jenkins is the 2019-2020 CWEA Laboratory Person of the Year. Photo: City of Escondido

Escondido Employee Named California Laboratory Person of the Year

City of Escondido Water Quality Lab Associate Chemist Oyuna Jenkins has been named “Laboratory Person of the Year” by the California Water Environment Association for 2019-20.

Supervising Chemist Ralph Ginese nominated Jenkins for the award, calling her “an incredible asset” during her seven years working at the lab. “The lab technically could not function without Oyuna,” wrote Ginese.

“This is really teamwork,” said Oyuna Jenkins of her recognition. “I have to give credit to everyone in the lab. We work really hard. Whoever you call a hero, there are always people behind them.

“It’s all about public health. I feel like it’s making a difference, providing accurate information to the public as possible. It’s all coordination between distribution, collection, public works, and everyone involved.”

Escondido lab helps ensure safe, reliable water supply

Jenkins plays a key role in the lab’s safety processes, which ensures a safe, reliable water supply for City of Escondido customers. She runs metal analyses on drinking water, industrial waste, and every step of the wastewater treatment process. Jenkins also peforms required monthly and quarterly testing and cross-trains colleagues on testing procedures. In addition, she is the laboratory’s liaison to contract labs.

“She’s very analytical,” said Ginese. “She’s someone we can go to, brainstorm, and work together. She is not afraid when people question her data. She is secure in what she does.”

Escondido lab plays leadership role in advanced water quality testing

Oyuna Jenkins (fifth from left) and the 14 person Escondido Water Quality Lab team, one of only two certified labs in California under new water quality standards. Photo: City of Escondido California Laboratory Person

Oyuna Jenkins (fifth from left) and the 14 person Escondido Water Quality Lab team, one of only two certified labs in California under new water quality standards. Photo: City of Escondido

From Mongolia to Escondido

A native of Mongolia, Oyuna Jenkins earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the Mongolian University of Science and Technology, which is among the top 15% of all programs worldwide. She immigrated to the United States in 1998. Jenkins continues to pursue advanced training. She first obtained CWEA certification in 2012 and completed the Water and Wastewater Certification program at Palomar College in 2016.

“Oyuna has worked tremendously hard to be where she is at today,” wrote Ginese in his award nomination. “She is grateful for the opportunity this country gives her and she shares that gratitude with those around her … She is what every supervisor/manager is looking for in a Laboratory Person of the Year Award.”

Escondido Water Quality Lab leads the way

Jenkins helped develop strategies to implement new techniques and processes supporting the implementation of strict new accreditation standards for California’s 600 certified water quality testing labs.

As reported earlier this year on Water News Network, the City of Escondido Water Quality Lab successfully adopted the anticipated regulations in advance of their formal implementation. Jenkins reviewed and wrote many of the lab’s new Standard Operating Procedures now being used. She also assisted in developing the facility’s annual goals, along with its new mission and value statements.

The ambitious approach to Environmental Lab Accreditation Program compliance under the more stringent quality control processes places Escondido in a leadership role as one of only two California labs already compliant with the new regulations.

(L to R) Vallecitos Water District employees at the Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility: Ivan Murguia, Arturo Sanchez, Dawn McDougle, Chris Deering, Marc Smith, and Matt Wiese. Photo: Vallecitos Water District employees

Customer Thanks Vallecitos Water District Employees for Their Efforts

Most Americans take a safe and reliable water supply for granted. Dedicated water and wastewater professionals, including Vallecitos Water District employees, work to provide a secure, plentiful supply of drinking water.

Vallecitos Water District customer Manisha Bambhania has a deeper appreciation. A native of India, Bambhania grew up in a home where running water was only available three hours per day, and sometimes much less.

Bambhania frequently posted favorable comments on Vallecitos Water District Facebook posts. “She would commonly write words like, ‘We all need to conserve, regardless of the drought,’ or ‘Thank you for all you do. We are so grateful for the services you are providing,’” said Public Information Representative Lisa Urabe.

“After more than a year of continued praise from Manisha, the public information staff reached out to her to thank her in person for her comments,” said Urabe. “We met at her house where she proceeded to tell us her story of growing up in India. Even though she lived in an upper middle-class neighborhood, water scarcity and lack of reliable water and wastewater infrastructure was a very real part of daily living.”

Vallecitos staff created a video to share Bambhania’s story about the work of Vallecitos Water District employees.

Vallecitos Water District employees ‘inspired’

Vallecitos employees viewed the video at a recent all-staff meeting. One of those employees is Dennis Richardson, who has worked for the agency the past 13 years.

“I thought it was incredible for a customer to actually thank the employees for the jobs that they do, and also to give us her past life experience of living in India and the importance of the water to the community,” said Richardson. “I was really inspired by her video.”

Other staff were also pleased at the positive remarks for their work.

“We all enjoy our jobs, and take great pride in what we do in serving the public,” said Shawn Askine, a water systems supervisor. “We’re happy citizens recognize the hard work we do providing clean reliable water to your tap everyday.”

The original video featuring Manisha Bambhania has also won statewide recognition from the California Water Environment Association Film Festival.

Vallecitos Water District waterwater technicians Chris Deering and Matt Wiess at the Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility. Photo: Vallecitos Water District employees

Vallecitos Water District wastewater technicians Chris Deering and Matt Wiess at the Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

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Olivenhain Municipal Water District Recognized for Community Engagement

Encinitas, CA—On January 25, Olivenhain Municipal Water District received the “Community Engagement & Outreach Program of the Year” award from the San Diego section of the California Water Environment Association during the section’s annual awards ceremony. OMWD’s outreach program highlights the importance of investing in recycled water as a critical water source.

 

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

OMWD Named “Business of the Year” for its Protection of Escondido Creek Watershed

Encinitas, CA—Representatives from the Escondido Creek Conservancy presented Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors with the “Business of the Year” award at OMWD’s December 11 meeting. OMWD received the award for its support of the Conservancy’s education program. The program has become increasingly successful each year, and today brings thousands of local students annually to Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve to learn about water quality and habitat protection.

After a vote by Facebook followers the "People's Choice Award“ goes to "Red Jumping Spiderman” by Sabine Kurz-Sherman. Photo: Courtesy Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve 2019 Photo Contest Winners Inspired by Nature

At its November 13 meeting, Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors recognized amateur photographers for their winning images captured in the 14th annual Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve photo contest.

“I am impressed with the quality of images and talent of Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve visitors,” said Bob Kephart, OMWD board secretary. “This year’s winning images put together a strong case for just how important it is to preserve open space for native habitat.”

Contest entries help to promote Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve and educate the public on the importance of wildlife and habitat protection. There were 84 entries in five categories: Scenic View, Water Scenery, Plants, Animals, and Youth (under 15 years of age).

The public also selected a People’s Choice Award winner by voting for their favorite photo from among 10 entries posted on the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve’s Facebook page.

Small details inspire 2019 Best In Show photographer

Best-in-Show winner Francesca Hummler explained to the board, “I fell in love with photography in high school as a darkroom assistant. I particularly enjoy macro photography, a style which I found suited the color and repetition of the plant in my photograph well.”

See all seven winners:

“Paint Brushes” by Francesca Hummler – Best in Show

“Paint Brushes” by Francesca Hummler received this year's "Best in Show" award. Courtesy: Olivenhain Municipal Water District Elfin Forest 2019 Photo Contest

“Paint Brushes” by Francesca Hummler received this year’s Best in Show award. Photo courtesy: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

“Misty Morning Over Lake” by Jeff Brock – Scenic View

“Misty Morning Over Lake” by Jeff Brock won in the Scenic View category. Photo: Courtesy Olivenhain Municipal Water District Elfin Forest 2019 Photo Contest

“Misty Morning Over Lake” by Jeff Brock won in the Scenic View category. Photo courtesy: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

“Behind the Grass” by Daniel Humphrey – Water Scenery

“Behind the Grass” by Daniel Humphrey won in the Water Scenery category. Photo: Courtesy Olivenhain Municipal Water District Elfin Forest 2019 Photo Contest

“Behind the Grass” by Daniel Humphrey won in the Water Scenery category. Photo courtesy: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

“Shine Bright” by Maria Ana Karina Lara – Plants

“Shine Bright” by Maria Ana Karina Lara is the winner in the "Plants" category. Photo: Courtesy Olivenhain Municipal Water District Elfin Forest 2019 Photo Contest

“Shine Bright” by Maria Ana Karina Lara is the Plants category winner. Photo courtesy: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

“Western Fence Lizard” by Karen Wood – Animals

The "Animals" category winner is taken by “Western Fence Lizard” by Karen Wood. Photo: Courtesy Olivenhain Municipal Water District

The Animals category winner is “Western Fence Lizard” by Karen Wood. Photo courtesy: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

“New World” by Stella Klins – Youth

This year's Youth category winner is Stella Klins for "New World." Photo: Courtesy Olivenhain Municipal Water District Elfin Forest 2019 Photo Contest

This year’s Youth category winner is Stella Klins for “New World.” Photo courtesy: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

“Red Jumping Spiderman” by Sabine Kurz-Sherman – People’s Choice

After a vote by Facebook followers the "People's Choice Award“ goes to "Red Jumping Spiderman” by Sabine Kurz-Sherman. Photo: Courtesy Olivenhain Municipal Water District Elfin Forest 2019 Photo Contest

After a vote by Olivenhain’s Facebook followers the “People’s Choice Award“ was “Red Jumping Spiderman” by Sabine Kurz-Sherman. Photo courtesy: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Prizes included tickets donated by San Diego Zoo, a 24” x 36” canvas print donated by PC Photo & Imaging, outdoor equipment donated by REI, and a $100 cash prize donated by contest partner Escondido Creek Conservancy.

All of this year’s winning photographs will be on display from January 1 to April 30, 2020, at the Interpretive Center Honoring Susan J. Varty located in the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve’s staging area.

READ MORE: San Diego Grown Photo Contest Highlights Agriculture

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Otay Water District Receives Service Provider of the Year Award from the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce

Chula Vista, Calif. – The Otay Water District is the recipient of the Service Provider of the Year Award from the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce. This award is presented to an organization for its corporate identity and first impressions, and overall service to customers including creativity in assisting customers, responsiveness and timely attention to its customers, problem-solving, customer awareness, and staff availability.

Vista Irrigation District Logo

VID Receives Statewide Awards For Governance and Transparency

Vista, Calif. – Vista Irrigation District has received two major statewide honors, the District of Distinction Platinum Recognition award and the Transparency Certificate of Excellence.

The District of Distinction recognition is awarded by the Special District Leadership Foundation to special districts that show their commitment to good governance, transparency, prudent fiscal policies and sound operating practices.

The district originally obtained its accreditation in 2009 and just received its most recent reaccreditation. Platinum recognition is the highest level of recognition for a district and requires completion of all Special District Leadership Foundation programs demonstrating a comprehensive approach to excellence in district administration and government; the district is one of only eleven special districts statewide to receive District of Distinction Platinum recognition.

Amy Dorman, Deputy Director, Pure Water Operations, is pictured accepting the award for the City of San Diego. Photo: City of San Diego Utility of the Future Today

San Diego Public Utilities Department Honored for Sustainability

The City of San Diego Public Utilities Department has been recognized as a “Utility of the Future Today” for its outreach efforts for the Pure Water San Diego Program.

The honor was bestowed today by a partnership of water sector organizations, including the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Water Environment Federation, the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation, the WateReuse Association and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The program recognizes the achievements of water utilities that transform from the traditional wastewater treatment system to a resource recovery center and leader in the overall sustainability and resilience of the communities they serve.

Pure Water Program ‘a national model’

“Being named a Utility of the Future Today further demonstrates the City’s commitment to producing a sustainable water supply for our citizens,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “The Pure Water Program is a national model for finding an innovative solution to our water needs.”

The City received the award at the Water Environment Federation’s 92nd annual Technical Exhibition and Conference held in Chicago from Sept. 21-25. The San Diego Public Utilities Department was previously honored as a Utility of the Future Today in 2016 for its efforts in community engagement and water reuse.

Forward-thinking, innovative water utilities

“We take pride in our work and are very honored to receive this recognition,” said San Diego Public Utilities Department Director Shauna Lorance. “We strive to provide the very best service to our customers, and that includes planning for the future.”

The Utility of the Future Today concept was first introduced in 2013. It celebrates the achievements of forward-thinking, innovative water utilities that are providing resilient, value-added service to communities, particularly in community engagement, watershed stewardship and recovery of resources such as water, energy and nutrients.

Pure Water San Diego is the City’s phased, multi-year program that will provide one-third of San Diego’s water supply locally by 2035. The Pure Water San Diego Program will use proven water purification technology to clean recycled water to produce safe, high-quality drinking water. The program offers a cost-effective investment for San Diego’s water needs and will provide a reliable, sustainable water supply.

San Diego Public Utilities Department Honored For Sustainability

The City of San Diego Public Utilities Department has been recognized as a “Utility of the Future Today” for its outreach efforts for the Pure Water San Diego Program.

The honor was bestowed today by a partnership of water sector organizations, including the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Water Environment Federation, the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation, the WateReuse Association and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.