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OMWD’s 4S Ranch Water Reclamation Facility Earns Statewide Plant of the Year Honors

Encinitas, Calif. — Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s 4S Ranch Water Reclamation Facility was honored today by California Water Environment Association as its 2021 Plant of the Year (Small).

Presented during CWEA’s Virtual Conference and Expo, the award recognizes accomplishments with regard to regulatory compliance, innovative practices, employee development, cost-effectiveness, and other evidence of superior plant operations.

CA-NV AWWA, CWEA Finalize Advanced Water Treatment Operator Certification Program

After four years of work, the Advanced Water Treatment Operator certification program is now complete and launched by the California-Nevada Section of the American Water Works Association and the California Water Environment Association. The exam for the highest-grade level, known as AWT5, launched on July 15th, completing the planned roll-out of exams on-budget and on a fast-tracked schedule.

Escondido Employee Named California Laboratory Person of the Year

The California Water Environment Association has named of Escondido Water Quality Lab Associate Chemist, Oyuna Jenkins as their Laboratory Person of the Year. Jenkins plays a key role in the lab’s safety processes, which ensures a safe and reliable water supply for City customers. 

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.”


(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.


The California Water Environment Association of San Diego recognized Vallecitos Water District wastewater treatment plant supervisor Dawn McDougle as its 2018 Supervisor of the Year. Photo: Courtesy VWD

Vallecitos Supervisor Honored for 28 Years of Environmental Protection

From her first day on the job at Vallecitos Water District in 1988, Dawn McDougle knew that she wanted to finish her career at the San Marcos-based water agency.

Her dedication, innovation, and commitment to the community have paid off in many ways over the decades. In January, they brought McDougle to the forefront of the region’s water industry when the California Water Environment Association of San Diego recognized her as Supervisor of the Year for her career of excellence, safety and protecting the environment.

McDougle started at Vallecitos as an industrial waste technician at a time when few women performed this work. She advanced her career by taking classes and earning certifications – and she helped others by mentoring and coaching them along the way. In 2002, McDougle was promoted to wastewater treatment plant supervisor.

Career Accomplishments Benefit the Community

Over the past 16 years, McDougle played a major role in the operation and management of the Meadowlark Reclamation Facility – recognized in 2009 with an Award of Excellence from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

“It’s been an awesome road with the Vallecitos Water District, and I am always going to be grateful to say I spent my career here and achieved all the goals I wanted to achieve,” said MdDougle.

McDougle’s tenure at Meadowlark included the recent completion of a $30 million expansion to an important part of Vallecitos’ water supply program that reduces demand on imported water supplies for northern San Diego County. The facility produces recycled water for golf courses at La Costa and the Four Seasons Resort Aviara in Carlsbad, several school sites, Legoland and the Carlsbad Flower Fields.

McDougle masterminded the use of new process units that extended the useful life of the Meadowlark plant well beyond 2030. With many constraints along the way, she kept the existing plant operating while constructing a new plant and meeting the plant expansion output goal of 5 million gallons per day.

McDougle’s staff at Meadowlark praise her extensive knowledge, her leadership, and her generosity in passing on her knowledge to others. “Dawn gave me an opportunity … She’s been great, she shows me what I have to do in order to be a successful operator. She’s top notch in this industry,” said Fernando Mata, Plant Operator.

The Meadowlark facility is visited frequently by students and ratepayers, because it provides an excellent opportunity to see how wastewater is converted to a valuable resource. Vallecitos developed successful outreach programs with McDougle’s guidance, including the California Water Environment Association “Wake up to Wastewater” tour, and the district’s award-winning Water Academy tour.

During the Water Academy tour, McDougle highlights how the district plays an integral role in protecting the environment through water reuse. It showcases an industry leader, who has spent her career making sure the district’s facilities live up to their promise.