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San Diego Tree Week: Concerts and Free Trees

The Water Conservation Garden is celebrating Spring this year by launching San Diego Tree Week. The goal, from April 22-29, is to plant 1,000 trees and bring San Diego residents together through tree planting.

As drought stretches into a third year in California, The Water Conservation Garden hopes the tree week campaign will help educate and increase awareness of the environmental benefits of tree planting. Some of the benefits include removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.

San Diego Tree Week and free trees

The Water Conservation Garden will kick off San Diego Tree Week with a free event and tree giveaway.

Certified arborist Jose Bedoya of Leaf it to Us Tree Service will lead a workshop on April 23, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. on choosing the right tree for the right place. Bedoya teaches at Cuyamaca College, where he received a Certified Arborist Certificate.

The tree giveaway will follow the workshop. After the free tree event, another workshop will start at 11:30 a.m. on tree planting and care, led by Board Certified Master Arborist Brad Brown of Tree Life Consulting. In 2011, Brown obtained Registered Consulting Arborist status. A year later he became a Board Certified Master Arborist.

Registration and attendance to at least one of the workshops is required to receive a tree, which are first come first serve.

San Diego Tree Week features a tree giveaway and workshops. (Photo: Free Tree Giveaway at The Water Conservation Fall Garden Festival in 2021 courtesy of The Water Conservation Garden)

From Earth Day to Arbor Day

A few more hands-on ways to get involved include leading a tree planting event, volunteering at a local tree planting site, and becoming a tree planting site. They’re also looking for financial help through donations, gifted tree seedlings, and sponsorship opportunities.

San Diego Tree Week concerts

Another way to participate with the whole family is attending the San Diego Tree Week Concerts. The concerts, sponsored by Union Bank, will feature certified double platinum singer, songwriter Ryan Cabrera and special guest Lexington Field.

The concerts are suitable for all ages and will close out Tree Week on April 26 and 27, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. on both nights.

San Diego Tree Week-Earth Day-Arbor Day

Ryan Cabrera, musician, certified double-platinum singer, songwriter.

The venue on April 26 will be The Water Conservation Garden. The April 27 concert is at the Second Chance Beer Company. Tickets are $30 for members of the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum or members of The Water Conservation Garden; general admission is $40. Ticket sales from the April 27 San Diego Tree Week concert will benefit the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum.

Water conservation and sustainability

Six Joint Powers Agencies own The Garden and have contracted with Friends of the Water Conservation, a nonprofit organization, to manage it. The agencies are the San Diego County Water Authority, the City of San Diego, Helix Water District, Sweetwater Authority, Otay Water District and Cuyamaca College.

The mission of The Water Conservation Garden is to educate and inspire through excellent exhibits and programs that promote water conservation and the sustainable use of related natural resources.

(Editor’s note: The City of San Diego, Helix Water District, Otay Water District, and Sweetwater Authority, are four of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

College Scholarships Offered for Water Industry Education

Multiple California water associations and water agencies in San Diego County are offering college scholarships to help candidates achieve their goals.

A large number of recent retirements combined with the need for a skilled workforce up to date on new technologies have resulted in a critical need to increase the talent pool of skilled individuals in the water and wastewater industry, including in San Diego County.

Scholarships are available for community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and graduate-level programs.

Scholarships-In her job at the City of Escondido Water Quality Lab, Associate Chemist Sarah Shapard performs tests analyzing for ammonia. Photo: City of Escondido Water industry education

College Scholarships Offered for Water Industry Education

Multiple California water associations and water agencies in San Diego County are offering college scholarships to help candidates achieve their goals.

A large number of recent retirements combined with the need for a skilled workforce up to date on new technologies have resulted in a critical need to increase the talent pool of skilled individuals in the water and wastewater industry, including in San Diego County.

Scholarships are available for community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and graduate-level programs. The following examples are due in the coming weeks for study in the 2022-2023 academic school year.

San Diego regional water scholarships

Otay Water District officials presents the first donation for a scholarship fund to Cuyamaca College President Dr. Julianna Barnes named after Otay General Manager Mark Watton. Photo: Otay Water District water industry education

Otay Water District officials present the first donation for a scholarship fund to Cuyamaca College President Dr. Julianna Barnes named after Otay General Manager Mark Watton. Photo: Otay Water District

The Mark Watton Scholarship Fund, established by the Otay Water District at the Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges, supports students attending the Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College. It honors Otay Water District General Manager Mark Watton’s four decades of service to the district.

Applicants must be currently enrolled for at least six units at Cuyamaca College, verify financial need, and complete the general application and essay. Scholarships of $1,000 are available. The Otay Water District is continuing to accept donations to the Mark Watton Scholarship Fund.

Students can contact scholarship specialist Ernest Williams at 619-660-4537 or email for more information.

The Helix Water District offers two $1,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors living within the district’s service area who will begin their university studies next fall. Applications are due March 4 for the Dr. Lillian M. Childs Scholarship and the Robert D. Friedgen Scholarship, which both provide help with freshman year expenses. The scholarship committee reviews each applicant’s grades, extracurricular activities, volunteer and work experience, academic and career goals, and financial needs.

High school seniors must graduate in the Class of 2022 this spring and attend a four-year college or university next fall. Students submit a two-page essay answering the question, “What is potable reuse and East County Advanced Water Purification?”

Deadline: March 4, 2022. Application Link. Students can verify their eligibility at 619-466-0585.

The Vista Irrigation District offers up to six scholarships between $1,000 and $3,000 to high school students living or attending school within the district. The purpose of the scholarship program is to increase knowledge and awareness of water-related issues impacting their community. Students who compete for a scholarship must complete an essay and provide a personal statement. Selection criteria also include community involvement or volunteer service.

Deadline: February 25, 2022. Application Link. Students can call Alisa Nichols at 760-597-3173 with questions or to request application information.

California water industry group scholarships

Vallecitos Water District-water industry careers-veterans-jobs

Vallecitos Water District Senior Pump & Motor Technician Dale Austin encourages military veterans to consider water industry careers. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) Canham Graduate Studies scholarship provides $25,000 for a post-baccalaureate student in the water environment field. The scholarship is for education-related expenses such as room and board, tuition and books. The scholarship may not be used to cover stipends or wages.

The applicant must be a WEF member, complete an online application, and be enrolled in a graduate program. Recipients must commit to working in the water industry for two years following graduation.

Deadline: March 1, 2022. Application Link. For questions, email Tori Cox at

The Association of California Water Agencies offers a $3,500 scholarship to qualified applicants attending a University of California or California State University school pursuing an undergraduate degree in a water-resources related field such as engineering, agriculture, environmental studies, or public administration. The applicant must be a junior or senior attending full-time during the 2021-2022 school year.  Criteria include scholastic achievement and motivation to the vocation of water-resources management.

ACWA also offers the new John P. Fraser Water Leaders Fellowship to a currently employed water professional at an ACWA member agency selected to participate in the Water Education Foundation’s annual William R. Gianelli Water Leaders Class. The program is named in honor of ACWA’s former executive director for his 22 years of service.

Vista Irrigation District Water Resources Office Assistant Jessica Sherwood is a third-generation water industry professional. Photo: Courtesy Jessica Sherwood family ties

Vista Irrigation District Water Resources Office Assistant Jessica Sherwood is a third-generation water industry professional. Photo: Courtesy Jessica Sherwood

Deadline: March 1, 2022. Application Link. For questions, call 916-441-4545 or email .

The California-Nevada section of the American Water Works Association awards more than $20,000 in scholarships in support of students and professionals pursuing careers in a drinking water-related field. Two $5,000 graduate scholarships, four $2,500 undergraduate scholarships, and two $1,000 scholarships in support of training as a drinking water treatment/distribution operator are available.

Suitable candidates include environmental and civil engineers; water, wastewater and recycling treatment plant operators; distribution system operators; chemists; laboratory technicians; biologists, ecologists and environmental scientists; and others whose roles support safe and reliable drinking water.

Deadline: March 15, 2022. Application Link. For information, call 909-481-7200 or email 

With approximately 1,400 water and wastewater jobs expected to open up across San Diego County in the next five years due to retirements, water industry careers offer promising lifelong professional opportunities. For more information, visit sandiegowaterworks.org.

(Editor’s note: The Helix Water District, Otay Water District, Vista Irrigation District, City of Escondido, and the Vallecitos Water District, are five of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Water News Network Top Stories of 2021

The Water News Network top stories of 2021 highlight how the region’s water providers ensured a safe, plentiful and reliable water supply, while also looking to the future. In the second year of a statewide drought, San Diegans stepped up their water conservation, proving once again, that “water conservation is a way of life in San Diego County.”

Veterans Career Day-Veterans Day-Work For Water-Military

Celebrating Veterans with a Career Day in Water

The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies recognize military veterans for their service and actively recruit vets to fill new career opportunities in the water and wastewater industry. The San Diego County region employs about 4,500 water and wastewater workers, many of whom have successfully transitioned from the military to a new career.

Water and wastewater career day

The Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College and San Diego County water agencies are hosting a free career day on January 19, 2022 from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. for veterans looking to transition their careers into the water and wastewater industry. Many water agencies are hiring, and veterans have key skills needed to provide safe, reliable drinking water for San Diego communities.

Veterans will have the opportunity to meet water agency recruiters, learn about pay and benefits, and receive advice on different career pathways and fast-tracked educational opportunities. Registration is online at CenterforWaterStudies.org. The Water Authority is co-sponsoring the in-person event.

A transition to the water world

During a webinar hosted by the Water Authority, Leaders2020, and San Diego Green Drinks in October, Otay Water District General Manager Jose Martinez, a U.S. Navy veteran, spoke about his experience transitioning from the military to the water industry. One challenge Martinez faced was the difference in terminology used between the military and water industries.

As the Vice Chairperson of the American Water Works Association California/Nevada Veteran Engagement and Transition Committee, Martinez discussed the work being carried out to provide direct pipelines and pathways to the water industry. One such pipeline was Assembly Bill 1588, legislation championed by Otay Water District and the Water Authority that passed in 2019. The bill, sponsored by Todd Gloria and Adam Gray, provides experience and education credits toward State water and wastewater certifications.

Water Workforce Webinar

‘Silver tsunami’ of retirements in water industry

The opportunities for both transitioning servicemembers and local water agencies are significant. More than 30,000 service members separate from the military each year in California, and more than half are transitioning out of active duty in the San Diego region. Roughly half of the current water industry workforce in the San Diego region will be eligible to retire in the next 15 years – and approximately 1,400 water and wastewater industry jobs are expected to open in the region in the next five years.

In October 2020, The Water Authority and its 24 member agencies launched a new website – SanDiegoWaterWorks.org – that provides the first comprehensive posting of regional water and wastewater industry job openings in one location. 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
  • Tips and resources for transitioning military

San Diego Water Works Website

(Editor’s note: For a story about the successful transition of military veterans to the water and wastewater industry, including a video of a USMC veteran working for the Vallecitos Water District, one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region, go to: waternewsnetwork.com/veterans-serving-public-in-water-industry-careers/)

San Diegans Urged to Use Less Water in “Level 1” Conservation Plan

In support of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s water conservation efforts following California’s two record-dry years, the San Diego County Water Authority activated its “Level 1,” or Voluntary Conservation of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan.

“We’re trying to achieve a 15% to be consistent with the governor’s request of 15% voluntary conservation. It’s using what you have efficiently and not wasting,” said San Diego County Water Authority Water Resources Manager Jeff Stephenson.

 

Women In Water Symposium Flows With The Change

This year’s Women in Water Symposium conference theme “Flow With The Change” is fitting. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 event is online with a new virtual format. The online format generated just as much enthusiasm from participants as prior in-person meetings. And, the virtual conference also meant people from throughout the United States could Zoom in too.

 

The 4th Women In Water Symposium discussed the career landscape for women due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Screen Capture, Women in Water Symposium

Women In Water Symposium Flows With The Change

This year’s Women in Water Symposium conference theme “Flow With The Change” is fitting. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 event is online with a new virtual format. The online format generated just as much enthusiasm from participants as prior in-person meetings. And, the virtual conference also meant people from throughout the United States could Zoom in, too.

A record 230 registrants signed up to attend live sessions covering a variety of career development topics.

Three specific career level tracks are offered to address needs at each level: entry-level for those new to water careers; mid-career for those transitioning and advancing within the industry; and upper level for senior professionals looking to leave a legacy.

Symposium highlights career opportunities

The symposium features three weekly half-day virtual formats.

Between 80 and 90 people attended the first four sessions on March 4. Topics included building a sustainable career in the water and wastewater industry; a panel discussion on public and private water industry career choices; and dealing with change and uncertainty.

Presenter flows with the change in format

“I actually participated in this symposium three years ago,” said Debbie Kaye, one of the conference presenters. “It was really fun, and it was just great energy in the room, so I’m trying to capture that energy through the little boxes on the screen,” said Kaye, president and CEO of V&A Consulting Engineers.

This is the fourth year of the conference, which started with a welcoming message from Cuyamaca College President Dr. Julianna Barnes. The college hosted the three previous symposiums.

“There’s just so many opportunities,” said Kaye. “The water industry is so welcoming. I think the thing that binds us together, we’re serving a higher purpose. We’re all supporting our families doing what we’re doing, but we’re serving a higher purpose protecting public health and protecting the environment.”

San Diego County Water Authority manager encourages women professionals

Gretchen Paniol of the Water Authority delivered a presentation on dealing with change. Photo: Screen Capture, Women In Water Symposium

Gretchen Spaniol with the San Diego County Water Authority delivered a presentation on dealing with change. She used a photo of herself at age 12 from a going-away party. “As a kid, I moved every two years, so I thought I was good at change, now it’s much harder,” Spaniol said in her presentation.  Photo: screen capture/Women In Water Symposium

San Diego County Water Authority Human Resources Special Projects Manager Gretchen Spaniol noted the pandemic year has disproportionately affected women in the workplace. “That was me at my going away party. I moved every two years as a kid, so I thought I was good at change. Now it’s harder.

“In December 2020, the U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs, and all of those were held by women,” said Spaniol. “It’s being called the female recession, or the ‘she-cession.’ Female unemployment reached double digits for the first time since 1948.”

Flow with the change in work life

Spaniol says changes such as working from home bring on stress, and stress can bleed into all aspects of work life. She encouraged attendees to network and support each other.

“Women in water, this is a great opportunity for additional networking,” said Spaniol. “I can guarantee you someone has been through what you’ve been going through, or has been dealing with something similar. It’s great to talk to others to really get that life experience. This is a great opportunity inside and outside your agency. We have such a great industry in San Diego County.”

She also praised the value of mentorships for women in the water industry.

Upcoming sessions include discussions on the evolution of the work environment due to COVID-19, negotiation skills, receiving feedback, and the use of social media.

Registration is still open for upcoming sessions. For additional information, contact Vanessa Murrell, Cuyamaca College, Center for Water Studies:

The conference was organized by a volunteer group, the “Women in Water Committee,” chaired by Galit Ryan, Firm Principal at Peterson Structural Engineers in San Diego.

Women in Water Symposium

The fourth annual Women in Water Symposium in March will be online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Previously hosted at Cuyamaca College, symposium sessions will be each Thursday starting March 2. This year’s conference theme is “Flow With The Change.”

City of Escondido Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Carrie Selby is among a growing number of women working in water and wastewater industry careers. Photo: City of Escondido

Women in Water Symposium

The fourth annual Women in Water Symposium in March will be online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Previously hosted at Cuyamaca College, symposium sessions will be each Thursday starting March 2. This year’s conference theme is “Flow With The Change.”

Three specific career level tracks are offered to address needs at each level: entry-level for those new to water careers; mid-career for those transitioning and advancing within the industry; and upper level, for senior professionals looking to leave a legacy.

Session topics include negotiation skills; diversity, equity, and inclusion; dealing with change; the impact of COVID-19; and building a sustainable career. Program elements for all tracks are designed to create a larger community of people with the interest and aptitude to take on what were previously considered non-traditional careers.

The symposium is an opportunity for students, water industry professionals, and people exploring careers in the water and wastewater industry, to make connections.

“The Women in Water Symposium made it possible for me, as a young graduate student, to meet experienced, female engineers at any moment, from breakfast to sessions and everything in between,” said Alma Rocha, a San Diego State University graduate student studying environmental engineering.

“I got to meet so many amazing people and help them out with referrals to jobs and events that might help their career, ” said Alec Mackie with the California Water Environmental Association. “A very rewarding event.”

Vanessa Murrell, Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges grant manager, said the conference is open to anyone, and this year is not limited by location by being held in a virtual environment.

Nurturing the next generation of water professionals

Water Authority General Manager Sandra Kerl is a longtime supporter and speaker at the Women in Water Symposium series at Cuyamaca College. Photo: Cuyamaca College

Water Authority General Manager Sandra Kerl is a longtime supporter and speaker at the Women in Water Symposium series sponsored by Cuyamaca College. This year’s symposium will take place online. Photo: Cuyamaca College

The Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have created a regional workforce development task force to address the “Silver Tsunami” of experienced employees reaching retirement age. The task force reports approximately 4,500 water and wastewater positions in the San Diego region. More than 1,400 of those workers are expected to reach retirement age by 2024. Water and wastewater treatment plant operators in California earn an annual average wage of more than $72,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Registration is $25 and free to students. Attendees only need to register once for all symposium sessions. Participants can attend any session from all three tracks. Register here.