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Mona Rios Elected Vice Chair of Water Authority Board

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors on Thursday elected Mona Rios as vice chair to serve with Board Chair Gary Croucher and Secretary Jerry Butkiewicz. She is the first Latina to serve as a Board officer in the Water Authority’s 76-year history.

Rios joined the Water Authority Board in January 2020, and represents the City of National City, where she serves as the Vice Mayor. A fourth-generation National City resident, Rios has served on the National City Council since 2010. She is a member of the Water Authority Board’s Legislation and Public Outreach Committee and the Water Planning and Environmental Committee.

Mona Rios has a long history of public service

She served on the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Board of Directors, was Vice Chair of the San Diego MTS Board of Trustees 2017-2019, and is an alternate member of the San Diego Association of Governments board. Rios has served as the representative for National City on numerous regional and statewide governmental agencies.

“I look forward to building partnerships that ensure an affordable and reliable water supply that helps San Diego County thrive,” said Rios. “From Fallbrook to the South Bay, we are stronger together.”

“I look forward to building partnerships that ensure an affordable and reliable water supply that helps San Diego County thrive,” said Mona Rios, after she was elected Vice Chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors December 10.

After more than six years of service on the Water Authority Board, outgoing Vice Chair Christy Guerin is retiring from the Board at the end of 2020. That created an opening for a new Board officer.

“We applaud Christy for all of her efforts to support the Water Authority and our region through her distinguished career,” said Chair Croucher. “And we welcome Mona Rios to help set a course for the future – a course that we will navigate together with teamwork and a commitment to the San Diego County community.”

The Water Authority’s 36-member board, representing 24 retail member water agencies, holds its regular meetings on the fourth Thursday of each month January through October. The November and December meetings are combined. Board meetings have been conducted online since April 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and are live-streamed on the Water Authority’s website. Board documents and webcasts of Board meetings are at www.sdcwa.org/board-directors.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

Another Homeowner Association Converts to Recycled Water

Encinitas, Calif. — The Vida Pacifica Homeowner Association in Encinitas has begun receiving locally produced recycled water from Olivenhain Municipal Water District. Converting to recycled water will allow the HOA to save approximately 9.6 acre-feet of potable water annually, or over 3.1 million gallons. Each acre-foot contains about enough water to cover a football field, one foot deep.

El Camino Real Infrastructure Project Reaches Milestone

The Olivenhain Municipal Water District project to replace aging water infrastructure along El Camino Real in Encinitas has now reached the halfway point. After getting underway in March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the project is making steady progress. District officials expect the entire project to be completed in Spring 2021.

The El Camino Real infrastructure improvement project has reached its midway point and will be complete in Spring 2021. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

El Camino Real Infrastructure Project Reaches Milestone

The Olivenhain Municipal Water District project to replace aging water infrastructure along El Camino Real in Encinitas has now reached the halfway point. After getting underway in March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the project is making steady progress. District officials expect the entire project to be completed in Spring 2021.

During the El Camino Real Potable Water Pipeline Replacement and Green Bike Lane Striping Project, OMWD is replacing approximately 4,700 linear feet of existing 12-inch diameter potable water pipeline along North El Camino Real from Encinitas Boulevard to Garden View Road, and approximately 650 linear feet of existing 12-inch diameter pipeline between Via Molena and Mountain Vista Drive. Water service lines and fire hydrant laterals served by the existing pipelines are also being replaced.

The two pipelines were originally installed in 1961 and 1974, and were fast approaching the end of their lifespan.

El Camino Real infrastructure project – ensuring water supply reliability

The pipeline replacement will reduce water loss and prevent emergency shutdowns due to leaks. This is vitally important for water conservation and to ensure water supply reliability for businesses and residents.

“OMWD has a robust water loss prevention program in place which reduces costs associated with water loss and emergency repairs in addition to conserving one of our most precious resources,” said OMWD Board Director Christy Guerin. “This project is a big undertaking, but it is absolutely important to the health and safety of the community.”

Bike lane striping reduces inconvenience to residents

The El Camino Real infrastructure project will work through five phases and is expected to be completed by Spring 2021. Graphic: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

“OMWD and the city work closely together to find opportunities like these where we can streamline projects and reduce the inconvenience  they may cause to residents,” said Guerin, who is also the vice chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors and former Encinitas mayor and councilmember.

Bike lanes included in El Camino Real infrastructure project

The pipeline replacement is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The City of Encinitas’ green bike lane portion of the project will begin at that time.

The green bike lane portion of the project will provide traffic calming measures, including improvements to safety and mobility for bicyclists along North El Camino Real from Encinitas Boulevard to Leucadia Boulevard by restriping and narrowing travel lanes. In addition, green-colored striping will augment some areas on the bike lanes and new signage and pavement markings will be installed.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District is implementing the lane restriping portion of the project on behalf of the City of Encinitas as an efficiency measure, which is taking place concurrently with the pipeline replacement project.

Collaboration on infrastructure improvements

The two agencies have combined what would normally be two separate, unrelated infrastructure improvement projects into a single effort to improve operational efficiency and reduce the temporary inconvenience of disruptions to area residents and businesses.

“These improvement projects are important for the continued success and safety of the surrounding areas,” said Encinitas Councilmember Joe Mosca. “We understand that anytime you are working in the road, especially in high-traffic areas, there can be traffic and noise impacts. That is why the City of Encinitas and OMWD are working together closely to minimize the time we need to be out there and keep any impacts to the public at a minimum.”

Overnight work

As daytime traffic has returned to normal levels, the City of Encinitas requested work hours be shifted back to overnight. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

As daytime traffic has returned to normal levels, the City of Encinitas requested work hours be shifted back to overnight. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

At the start of the project, Encinitas requested that work be done at night to further reduce traffic impacts. During the stay-at-home order, work could be completed during daytime hours due to significantly reduced traffic levels. However, as traffic has returned to normal levels, the City requested work hours be shifted back to overnight.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District officials continue to work closely with Encinitas officials to monitor the project’s impact on traffic on a week-by-week basis and modify the schedule as needed. Both public agencies and the project contractor Teichert Energy and Utilities Group continue to adapt and respond to opportunities to mitigate impacts to the surrounding community while maintaining efficiency.

Project updates are on the water district’s website.

Gary Croucher-Christy Guerin-Jerry Butkiewicz-San Diego County Water Authority Board

Croucher Elected Board Chair of San Diego County Water Authority

New officers for the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors were elected today, with Gary Croucher starting his two-year term as Board chair on Oct. 1.

Croucher, vice chair of the Board for the past two years as a representative from the Otay Water District, will serve with incoming Vice Chair Christy Guerin, a Board representative from the Olivenhain Municipal Water District, and incoming Secretary Jerry Butkiewicz from the City of San Diego.

Jim Madaffer, who represents the City of San Diego on the Water Authority’s Board, served as chair the past two years. His term ends on Sept. 30.

Collaboration with 24 member agencies ensures plentiful water supply

“The Water Authority is one of our region’s most important institutions, and I’m committed to continuing our long legacy of providing safe and reliable water supplies that sustain 3.3 million people and our $245 billion economy,” said Croucher. “The collaboration with our 24 member agencies is vital to ensure a clean, safe and plentiful water supply for this beautiful place we call home.”

“We are stronger together”

“Looking ahead, Water Authority priorities include assessing the infrastructure necessary to provide water supply reliability for generations to come and leveraging existing infrastructure to increase long-term energy storage. We’re also focused on opportunities to expand partnerships that will benefit our region and the entire Southwest,” Croucher said. “I will also be devoting my personal energy and attention to addressing and resolving concerns two Water Authority member agencies have in seeking detachment from the Water Authority, because I firmly believe we are stronger together.”

He also said that the Water Authority will continue efforts advanced under Madaffer’s leadership to resolve legal disputes over rates with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California while looking for ways to collaborate with MWD on other issues.

Outgoing Board Chair Madaffer honored

Madaffer, presiding over his last meeting as Board chair, was honored by staff and Board members for his leadership — following on the two-year efforts of his predecessor, Mark Muir, on the rate case litigation, which included securing nearly $500 million dollars from MWD for water supply projects in San Diego County, elimination of illegal charges being imposed on San Diego ratepayers and entry of a final judgment in the 2010 and 2012 cases, and awarding Water Authority almost $45 million. Madaffer also presided over efforts by the Water Authority to minimize rate increases, the development of a new agricultural water rate program to benefit the region’s farmers, and efforts to enhance communication and coordination with member agencies.

New Board Chair is a career firefighter

Incoming Board Chair Croucher joined the Water Authority Board in July 2001 and served as Vice Chair Board for the past two years. He is a member of the agency’s Administrative and Finance Committee and the Legislation and Public Outreach Committee. He’s also chair of the Colorado River Work Group and a member of the MWD Settlement Negotiations Team.

A career firefighter, Croucher retired as an assistant chief for CAL FIRE/San Diego. Croucher is chair of the Border Agencies Fire Council. He is a three-time president of the Otay Water District Board of Directors and former fire chief of the San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District. Croucher also serves on the Local Agency Formation Commission’s Borders Committee. He is a past chairman of the Border Agency Fire Council, past president of Southern Area Fire Equipment Research, and he has participated on both state and federal Homeland Security programs.

Guerin is new vice chair

Christy Guerin, the new vice chair, served as Board secretary the past two years, and sits on the Water Authority’s committees for Imported Water and Legislation and Public Outreach, along with the Colorado River Work Group and the MWD Settlement Negotiations Team.

She joined the Board in 2014 representing Olivenhain, where she is a director on the board. Guerin served for a decade with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, as mayor of Encinitas from 2002-2006, and as a district director for a member of Congress. She has also served on the SANDAG board, the North County Transit District board and the board of the San Elijo Joint Powers Authority.

Board Secretary Jerry Butkiewicz

Jerry Butkiewicz, the new Board secretary, currently serves as chair of the Water Authority’s Legislation and Public Outreach Committee and sits on the Colorado River Work Group and Water Planning and Environmental committees. He is also one of the Board’s MWD Delegates and serves on the MWD Settlement Negotiation Team He joined the Board in 2016 representing the City of San Diego. Butkiewicz is the former Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council.

The Water Authority’s 36-member board, representing 24 retail member water agencies, holds its regular meetings on the fourth Thursday of each month January through October. The November and December meetings are combined, and this year that meeting is November 19. Board meetings have been conducted online since April 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and are live-streamed on the Water Authority’s website. Board documents and webcasts of Board meetings are at www.sdcwa.org.

tate legislators, water industry leaders, veteran advocates and business and community organizations gathered at the Veterans Museum in Balboa Park Oct. 16 to celebrate Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of AB 1588.

New California Law Creates Path to Water Industry Jobs for Vets

State legislation co-sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority and the Otay Water District has been signed into law, making it possible for veterans to receive credit for their military education and experience when applying for civilian water and wastewater system operator certifications in California.

State legislators, water industry leaders, veteran advocates and business and community organizations gathered at the Veterans Museum in Balboa Park today to celebrate Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of Assembly Bill 1588.

The bill was introduced in the state legislature by Assemblymembers Todd Gloria (San Diego) and Adam Gray (Merced), and co-authored by several state legislators, including Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath (Oceanside).

The Water Authority and the Otay Water District co-sponsored the bill to increase the number of military veterans entering the civilian water and wastewater industry at a time when many Baby Boomers are retiring.

‘Silver Tsunami’ of retirements in water industry

“The new law helps our communities two ways – by lowering employment barriers for our veterans and sustaining our vital water and wastewater services for the next generation,” said Water Authority Board Secretary Christy Guerin. “This was a victory for San Diego and the whole state – a successful, bipartisan effort that will help maintain our economy and quality of life.”

The Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have created a regional workforce development task force to address the “Silver Tsunami” of retirees. The task force reported that there are approximately 4,500 water and wastewater positions in the San Diego region – and more than 1,400 of those workers are expected to reach retirement age by 2024. Statewide, there are approximately 6,000 active certified wastewater treatment plant operators and approximately 35,000 drinking water treatment and distribution operators.

Several states help veterans navigate the civilian water system operator certification process and allow veterans to apply equivalency standards to credit military experiences toward state or industry certifications in water and wastewater treatment and distribution. However, no similar approach existed in California.

AB 1588 Creates Path For Water Industry Jobs For Military Veterans

State legislation introduced by San Diego Assemblymember Todd Gloria (far right) and Merced Assemblymember Adam Gray creates a path to water and wastewater industry jobs for military veterans. AB 1588, signed into law by Gov. Newsom, was co-sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority and the Otay Water District. (L-to-R in photo: Mark Balmert, Executive Director, SDMAC, Jose Martinez, Assistant Chief Water Operations, Otay Water District, Christy Guerin, Board Secretary, San Diego County Water Authority, and Assemblymember Gloria). Photo: Water Authority

Creating bridges to water industry jobs

“What we are missing, and what this bill addresses, is a pathway in which we honor the experience of our veterans and allow that experience to qualify them for a career path in our civilian water systems,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria. “Thanks to Governor Newsom, that pathway now exists. California will now properly credit the service of our veterans and enable them to secure good-paying jobs here in our water system. In this time – when the importance of clean water and good paying jobs is undeniable – let’s create bridges not barriers.”

AB 1588 provides a pathway for military veterans to apply their advanced skills and experience toward state and industry-supplied certifications in the water and wastewater treatment and distribution operator fields. Additionally, it ensures that advanced water treatment operators and distribution system operators of potable reuse and recycled water facilities have a career advancement path as certified water and/or wastewater treatment plant operators.

“San Diego County is home to more than 240,000 veterans with skills that benefit our region in numerous ways,” said Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath of Encinitas, a co-author of the bill. “With this legislation, we are building stronger communities that can remain home to servicemembers after they take off the uniform and transition into civilian life.”

Veterans continue public service in water industry

Assistant Chief of Water Operations at the Otay Water District Jose Martinez is a veteran who initiated the idea of the bill and has thrived in the civilian water industry. “As someone who had the pleasure to serve alongside the members of the military responsible for the safe and reliable operation of water and wastewater systems, I observed firsthand their education, experience and dedication,” he said.

“Now, as a water manager responsible for providing safe and reliable water and wastewater services to the public, I championed this bill to provide a path for veterans to receive the certification credit they have earned after years of service. This will ensure that the water sector continues to recruit from the biggest and best talent pools to provide the highest level of service to everyone.”

New California Law Creates Path To Water And Wastewater Industry For Military Vets

State legislation co-sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority and the Otay Water District has been signed into law, making it possible for veterans to receive credit for their military education and experience when applying for civilian water and wastewater system operator certifications in California.

State legislators, water industry leaders, veteran advocates and business and community organizations gathered at the Veterans Museum in Balboa Park today to celebrate Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of Assembly Bill 1588 by Assemblymembers Todd Gloria (San Diego) and Adam Gray (Merced), and co-authored by several state legislators, including Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath (Oceanside).