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Helix Water District Part of Countywide Landscape Contest That Runs Through May

Helix is one of a dozen local water agencies taking part in a countywide WaterSmart Landscape Contest this year.

Previously known as the California-Friendly Landscape Contest, the annual competition, now in its 17th year, rewards water-efficient landscapes created by customers of Helix and other participating agencies around San Diego County.

Construction Begins on New Membrane Filtration Reverse Osmosis Treatment Facility

Construction of Escondido’s $65 million Membrane Filtration Reverse Osmosis Facility for Agriculture commenced recently, marking a milestone in the City’s goal of providing agriculture growers a high-quality irrigation supply and easing the burden on its wastewater infrastructure.

Escondido to Get $1.75 M Rebate

The city of Escondido is being sent a rebate of $1,754,023 by the San Diego County Water Authority, of which Escondido is a member agency. The Rincon Del Diablo Municipal Water District, which also serves parts of Escondido, was sent a rebate of $630,781. This week the Water Authority’s Board of Directors voted to distribute a rebate of $44.4 million to its 24 member agencies across the region after receiving a check for that amount from the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to pay legal damages and interest.

Teresa Chase helps load up donations from Olivenhain Municipal Water District employees. They are playing Santa Claus to a family of seven, a local senior, and a veteran in its annual adopt-a-family effort, and filled a truck bed with donations for the San Diego Humane Society. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Water Utility Workers Embrace Holiday Giving

The San Diego region’s water and wastewater agencies have a long tradition of supporting holiday charitable giving to a wide array of nonprofit services. The tradition continues in 2020 with no slowdown despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Toys bring joy to kids in need

Helix Water District employees, board members and customers donated virtually and in person to Helix's Toys for Tots toy drive, which will provide holiday gifts to less fortunate children throughout East County. Photo: Helix Water District Holiday giving

Helix Water District employees, board members and customers donated virtually and in person to the agency’s Toys for Tots drive, which will provide holiday gifts to less fortunate children throughout East San Diego County. Photo: Helix Water District

For more than 15 years, Sweetwater Authority employees have been active participants in the Salvation Army Angel Tree program, providing toys to children in its service area. Every year, employees take a tag that contains information about the recipient (age, gender, toy request). The employee shops for the item and brings them back unwrapped to the office. The Salvation Army pickups and delivers the donated toys.

With many employees working from home this year due to the pandemic, several made arrangements to have their gifts shipped directly to the office, or stopped by to drop off a gift.

“Every year, I enjoy seeing the collection of toys selected by our employees for the children of South Bay. I am always so proud of the generosity and kindness of our team – It is one of the joys of the holiday season,” said Tish Berge, Sweetwater Authority general manager.

Helix Water District staff is donating to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program, and encouraged its customers to participate. Each holiday season, the U.S. Marine Corps partners with local nonprofits and businesses to collect toys for distribution to children. Helix employees at all four of the district’s facilities collected new and unwrapped toys. “If there was ever a time to help families in need, this is it,” said Helix spokesperson Vince Dambrose.

San Diego County Water Authority employees enthusiastically support Toys for Tots through its Employee Association. President Angela Tomayko, administrative assistant to the Colorado River Program and MWD Program, said employees will donate $500 toward the purchase of toys for the program.

San Diego Food Bank virtual drives provide assistance 

The Water Authority and numerous member water agencies continue to support the San Diego Food Bank during the holiday season. Photo: San Diego Food Bank holiday giving

The San Diego County Water Authority and numerous member water agencies continue to support the San Diego Food Bank during the holiday season. Photo: San Diego Food Bank

Early in the pandemic, the San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies launched a virtual food drive in partnership with the San Diego Food Bank to provide assistance to those affected by the pandemic.

The Otay Water District was an original partner in the virtual food drive and has continued its commitment along with its nearly 226,000 customers, employees, and any supporter able to donate. As a result of its holiday season efforts, the Otay Water District raised $5,400 in food and monetary donations for the Food Bank.

“Because of the economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis, demands for food and aid have skyrocketed across the county,” said Tenille Otero, Otay communications officer. “People are without jobs, without paychecks, and without money to feed and support their households. Through the food bank effort, the District, its employees, and customers can assist those affected by the pandemic.”

Helix Water District also partnered directly with the San Diego Food Bank early in the pandemic, raising more than $6,000 for the program. Both the food drive, and its Toys for Tots effort are run as part of the “Helix Helps” program created in 2017. Helix employees, families and friends volunteer their time to support the communities the district serves.

City of Escondido employees participate in the annual “PJ Angels” program. New pajamas are collected for multiple local agencies serving children in crisis. photo; city of Escondido Holiday giving

City of Escondido employees participate in the annual “PJ Angels” program. New pajamas are collected for multiple local agencies serving children in crisis. Photo: City of Escondido

City of Escondido employees including the water and wastewater divisions put together “Souper Sacks,” bags of non-perishable food and fun surprises distributed through the city’s senior program at the Park Avenue Community Center. Last year, 341 Souper Sacks were donated.

In addition, employees participate in the annual “PJ Angels” program. New pajamas are collected for multiple local agencies serving children in crisis. Children receive a new set of pajamas to bring them comfort during their most challenging moments.

In previous years, items were delivered to the nonprofits with an escort by the Escondido Fire Department. “This year, distribution will be lower key, but participation in both of these longstanding programs has not waivered,” said Teresa Collins, Escondido communications manager.

Supporting clean water worldwide

Baskets of Wonderful Pistachios benefit the Water for People program year after year. Photo: Water for People

Baskets of Wonderful Pistachios benefit the Water for People program year after year. Photo: Water for People

For 15 years, Olivenhain Municipal Water District employees have enthusiastically supported fundraising for the nonprofit Water for People. It works with communities across the globe to install safe water and sanitation systems, educating local people on good health practices and saving thousands of lives. Olivenhain employees have volunteered abroad helping set up water and sewer systems with the full support of the agency.

During the holiday season, the San Diego chapter holds a competition to sell the most gift baskets donated by Wonderful Pistachios. Employees help assemble the baskets for sale. Olivenhain hoped for a “three-peat” win but settled for a close second place, selling 179 baskets.

Water Authority employees also purchased baskets. Employee Association President Angela Tomayko noted, “they sold out quickly!”

Olivenhain employees are playing Santa Claus to a family of seven, a local senior, and a veteran in its annual adopt-a-family effort, and filled a truck bed with donations for the San Diego Humane Society. Employees also participate with paycheck deductions through the United Way.

“We like to cast a wide net to make the season brighter for as many as we can – seniors, children, vets, and even four-legged friends,” said Teresa Chase, administrative analyst.

“I enjoy shopping for the families and I like collecting for animals, too,” said district accountant Lisa Maxwell, who has worked at Olivenhain Municipal Water District for 23 years. “It’s just something that brings joy. We could use it, this year especially.”

Water Authority employees embrace philanthropy year-round

This year, the Water Authority established a new employee-driven Charitable Giving Committee to support nonprofits year-round. Chair John Kross, Engineering Department right of way manager, and committee member Liz Mendelson-Goossens, principal water resources specialist, MWD Program, said the committee has established new guidelines and surveyed employees to select recipients, the San Diego Food Bank, San Diego Humane Society, and Rady Children’s Hospital.

Without the ability to hold face-to-face events, the committee launches its first virtual fundraiser with a holiday theme. Through the end of the year, employees can compete in a holiday attire contest, donating to enter a photo in one of three categories: Ugliest, Most Creative, and Best Homemade. Fellow employees will vote on the winners.

Welcome to the Board: Consuelo Martinez, City of Escondido

Consuelo Martinez was seated on the Board of Directors on May 27, 2020, representing the City of Escondido. Director Martinez serves on the Imported Water and Legislation and Public Outreach committees for the Water Authority.

Consuelo Martinez-Meet the Board Members-City of Escondido

Welcome to the Board: Consuelo Martinez, City of Escondido

Editor’s Note: This feature highlights new members of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 36-member Board of Directors. Each of the Water Authority’s 24 member agencies appoints at least one representative to the Board, which sets policy for the Water Authority.

Welcome to the Board: Consuelo Martinez, City of Escondido

Who: Consuelo Martinez was seated on the Board of Directors on May 27, 2020, representing the City of Escondido. Director Martinez serves on the Imported Water and Legislation and Public Outreach committees for the Water Authority.

Background/Education: Dual Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Women’s Studies from CSUSM. Deputy Mayor, City of Escondido

Water Industry Affiliations:
*SDCWA Citizens Water Academy Graduate (2019)
*WELL 2019 Training Participant (Water Education for Latino Leaders)

Q & A

Q: How did you get interested in water issues?

A: I was a political science major at California State University San Marcos when I first learned of a book that was dedicated to the politics of water. I was surprised that water could be so political. A few years later, friends and colleagues from the nonprofit MANA de San Diego graduated from the San Diego County Water Authority’s Citizens Water Academy and they recommended that I also enroll. It took a few years for timing to work out, but I am so glad I graduated through the program. It was eye-opening and very helpful in my new role was policy maker.

Q: What are your priorities or interests as a Board member?

A: To learn and help our residents (rate payers) understand how precious our water is and empower them as informed stakeholders. I would like our region to be a leader in safe, reliable and affordable water.

Q: Besides maintaining safe and reliable water supplies, what do you see as the top three issues facing the San Diego region?

A: Income inequality, housing affordability, and climate change.

Q: What do you like to do when you are not working?

A: Spending time with my partner, Patrick, trying a new restaurant or discovering a new street food vendor, and taking care of my plants.

The Water Authority’s Board of Directors typically meets on the fourth Thursday of each month. The Board invites the public to attend its monthly meetings and to comment on agenda items or other matters before the Board. For meeting times, agendas and documents, go to www.sdcwa.org/board-directors.

Primary-Tyrese Powell-Slotterbeck-San Diego Water Works-Water Jobs

San Diego Water Works Website Offers One-Stop Shop for Water Industry Jobs 

The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have launched a new website – SanDiegoWaterWorks.org – that provides the first comprehensive posting of regional water and wastewater industry job openings in one location.

As the San Diego economy begins recovering from recession, the site features expanded job opportunities and regularly updated information about internships and training opportunities – a one-stop-shop for anyone interested in a new career or a new role in the water industry.

San Diego Water Works was created to help meet the growing need for skilled water industry workers at a time when retirements are reducing the workforce. The site is the result of a regional water industry task force convened to address the “silver tsunami” of Baby Boomers.

“We want to fill the pipeline with new generations of talent,” said Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl. “This is an industry that can really benefit from people with a diversity of backgrounds and educational experiences.”

Website created to fill openings created by wave of water industry retirements

While some water agencies have reduced hiring during the pandemic, roughly half of the current water industry workforce in the San Diego region will be eligible to retire in the next 15 years and many of those workers are in essential positions. In just the next five years, about 1,400 water and wastewater industry jobs are expected to open across the region. In addition to engineers and plant operators, the industry relies on technicians, accountants, electricians, mechanics, information technology specialists and many other occupations.

“The water industry offers careers that are not only personally and professional rewarding but also are vital for our region,” said Christopher McKinney, the City of Escondido’s Director of Utilities, and chair of the regional task force. “This is a chance to really make a difference in our community.”

San Diego Water Works website-water jobs-water industry

The San Diego Water Works website was created to help meet the growing need for skilled water industry workers at a time when retirements are reducing the workforce.

The San Diego Water Works website includes:

  • Current water and wastewater job postings in the San Diego region
  • Training and education resources, career advice and internship programs
  • Featured jobs that highlight rewarding careers in the water industry
  • Information about special training programs and internships for military veterans

The new website aligns with the priorities of water agencies in San Diego County to help military veterans find jobs in the water and wastewater industry. State legislation co-sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority and the Otay Water District was signed into law in 2019, 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.

“More than 15,000 military personnel transition from active duty each year in San Diego County, and many have the skills and experience that match the needs of regional water industry employers,” said Jose Martinez, Otay Water District general manager, U.S. Navy veteran and a member of the regional workforce development task force. “As a veteran, I understand the importance of a website like this; it is a great starting point for veterans to find jobs and training programs as well as to discover what resources are available in the industry.”

Rincon del Diablo MWD’s David Drake Honored with Industry Icon Award

David Drake, Treasurer of the Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District Board of Directors, was recently recognized with the 2020 Industry Icon Award by Water and Wastes Digest, an industry-related technical magazine which covers breaking news and new developments in water and wastewater products, projects, and technology.

Love Water, Save Water Artwork Wins Escondido Poster Contest

Six student artists representing three schools in the City of Escondido are the 2020 winners of the City’s annual “Love Water, Save Water” poster contest. For 29 years, the City of Escondido has provided local fourth-grade students in its water service area the opportunity to illustrate water stewardship through artwork and creativity

This year's winner of the Escondido 2020 Poster Contest is Gracie Scher, Quantum Academy. Photo: City of Escondido

Love Water, Save Water Artwork Wins Escondido Poster Contest

Six student artists representing three schools in the City of Escondido are the 2020 winners of the City’s annual “Love Water, Save Water” poster contest.

For 29 years, the City of Escondido has provided local fourth-grade students in its water service area the opportunity to illustrate water stewardship through artwork and creativity. The contest is held in partnership with other North County water agencies to promote water conservation and water pollution prevention.

Students must enter their original work with no trademarked characters. They are encouraged to use lots of color and to avoid leaving empty space. Entries are judged on the depiction of the theme, originality, and poster design. Posters cannot be computer-generated.

 The six winners in the Love Water, Save Water poster contest

The first place winning poster submitted by Gracie Scher, Quantum Academy. Photo: City of Escondido 2020 Poster

First place: Gracie Scher, Quantum Academy. Photo: City of Escondido

 

In second place is Filip Kupiec, L.R. Green Elementary. Photo: City of Escondido 2020 Poster

Second place: Filip Kupiec, L.R. Green Elementary. Photo: City of Escondido

 

The third place winning poster comes from Angelaiya Nazareno, St. Mary School. Photo: City of Escondido

Third place: Angelaiya Nazareno, St. Mary School. Photo: City of Escondido

The top three winning posters will appear in the 2021 North County water awareness calendar.

Love Water, Save Water

Also recognized for their work are Taylor Lampman and Jacob Marshall from Quantum Academy, and Lilly Gibbs from St. Mary School.

Taylor Lampman, Quantum Academy. Photo: City of Escondido

 

Jacob Marshall, Quantum Academy. Photo: City of Escondido

Jacob Marshall, Quantum Academy. Photo: City of Escondido

 

Lilly Gibbs, St. Mary School. Photo: City of Escondido.

Contest part of comprehensive science education program

The City of Escondido supports local public and private schools by providing the Water Science Education Program to elementary and afterschool programs. The program teaches water science to raise awareness of Earth’s resources through interactive and collaborative activities supplementing each school’s science curriculum and to help meet Next Generation Science Standards. The annual poster contest is part of the program.

Students who will be in fourth grade in the 2020-2021 school year can start planning their entry. The annual deadline is in April. The City of Escondido website has contest rules and the entry form.