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Water Studies Open House Keeps Career Pipeline Flowing

In an economy altered by the coronavirus pandemic, water and wastewater industry essential employees remain in demand. To help people explore their career options, the Cuyamaca College Center for Water Studies program will hold its annual Open House and Student Orientation at distance via Zoom on Tuesday, August 11, at 6 p.m.

Cuyamaca College’s Water & Wastewater Technology program is the oldest and most comprehensive program of its kind in the California Community Colleges system. Photo: CWEA Open House

Water Studies Open House Keeps Career Pipeline Flowing

In an economy altered by the coronavirus pandemic, water and wastewater industry essential employees remain in demand. To help people explore their career options, the Cuyamaca College Center for Water Studies program will hold its annual Open House and Student Orientation at distance via Zoom on Tuesday, August 11, at 6 p.m.

Vanessa Murrell, grant manager for the Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College, says anyone interested in exploring this career field is invited to participate and learn what makes it such an attractive choice.

“Careers in water are generally recession-proof with accessible career advancements and opportunities in addition to competitive salary and benefits,” said Murrell. “We anticipate more openings over the next few years as water remains a necessary resource for survival and sanitation.”

Murrell says the Open House offers an overview of the program, the degrees and certificates offered, the variety of courses available, details on required California state certifications, and the range of careers available in the water and wastewater industry. Participants will meet professors and current students and can ask questions.

To register for the Open House, send an email to or and you will receive a link to the Zoom site.

Career growth and meaningful jobs

Participants will meet professors and current students, and get the opportunity to ask questions. Photo: Michael Barder, CVESD via Twitter Open House

Participants will meet professors and current students and get the opportunity to ask questions. Photo: Michael Barder, CVESD via Twitter

A career in the growing water industry presents an opportunity to earn money while protecting the environment and servicing the community in an essential role. The ability to provide clean, safe drinking water is a complex endeavor and is getting more complex as time goes on.

Skilled water professionals are in high demand as the current workforce ages. Water and wastewater agencies employ more than 60,000 workers statewide, including 5,000 in San Diego County, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Water Research Foundation anticipates one-third of the utilities workforce will retire over the next decade.

In San Diego County, wastewater treatment and system operators earn an average annual wage of more than $66,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Program partnerships with local water agencies

Cuyamaca College's innovative Field Operations Skills Yard is newly updated to provide students with practical challenges they will face in today’s complex water and wastewater facilities when they are able to return to campus. Photo: Cuyamaca College

Cuyamaca College’s innovative Field Operations Skills Yard is newly updated to provide students with practical challenges they will face working with water and wastewater industry facilities. Photo: Cuyamaca College

Established in 1960, Cuyamaca College’s Water & Wastewater Technology program is the oldest and most comprehensive program of its kind in the California Community Colleges system, educating the state’s water utility workforce for more than a half a century. Its innovative Field Operations Skills Yard is newly updated, and, when students are able to return to campus, will provide students with practical challenges they will face in today’s complex water and wastewater facilities. Currently, fall courses will take place online.

The college works closely with local water agencies. Members of the Cuyamaca College Water & Wastewater Technology Program Industry Advisory Committee include the San Diego County Water Authority, City of San Diego Public Utilities Department, Helix Water District, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the City of Escondido Utilities Department, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, and other agencies.

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Sweetwater Authority Wins Statewide Award for Hydro Station Education Experience

The Sweetwater Authority Governing Board on July 22 was presented with the California Association of Public Information Officials Award of Distinction for excellence in public information and communications. The water agency received the award earlier this month for its innovative communication for the Hydro Station Education Experience.

The Sweetwater Authority received CAPIO's EPIC Award earlier this month for its innovative communication for the Hydro Station Education Experience. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Sweetwater Authority and Otay Water District Win Statewide Award for Hydro Station Education Experience

The Sweetwater Authority Governing Board on July 22 was presented with the California Association of Public Information Officials Award of Distinction for excellence in public information and communications. As a collaborative project with the Chula Vista Elementary School District, the Sweetwater Authority and the Otay Water District received the award from CAPIO earlier this month for innovative communications for the Hydro Station Education Experience.

The Hydro Station at Sweetwater’s Richard A. Reynolds Groundwater Desalination Facility,  hosts learning exhibits and hands-on activities to introduce 4,000 local students annually to the ecological cycle of water, water conservation, water quality, and careers in the water industry. The Hydro Station is made possible through a partnership between the Sweetwater Authority, Chula Vista Elementary School District, and the Otay Water District.

Hydro Station Education Experience opened in August 2019

Chula Vista fifth graders enjoy their first visit to the new Hydro Station educational facility. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Chula Vista fifth graders enjoy their visit to the new Hydro Station educational facility. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

“It is exciting to be on a Board that values the importance of strategic partnerships,” said Governing Board Chair Steve Castaneda. “We are working with the Chula Vista Elementary School District and the Otay Water District to provide educational opportunities for students in our service area and to expose local children to a career path that could position them as tomorrow’s water leaders.”

The program opened in August 2019 after months of planning and collaboration with its partners.

The Authority’s Communications Committee Chair, José F. Cerda, is a long-time advocate of the partnership.

“As a former Chula Vista Elementary School District educator, I have seen the impacts that these sort of innovative classroom experiences can have on students and their families,” said Cerda. “I am so proud of the work that we are doing at the Authority and being an industry leader in creating and developing experiences for the children in our community.”

The Hydro Station will resume in a virtual format for students in the Chula Vista Elementary School District next month.

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Vista Irrigation District Names 2020 Student Poster Contest Winners

Vista Irrigation District has presented awards to three artistic fourth-grade students as winners of the District’s 2020 Water Awareness Poster Contest. The District’s board of directors selected the recipients at its July 15 meeting. This is the 28th year of the local contest. This year’s theme was “Love Water, Save Water.”

Karmen Isabel Simons, a fourth-grade student from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School in Vista, received first-place honors for her entry in the competition. She received a $100 award

Karmen Isabel Simons, a fourth grade student from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School in Vista, received first place honors from the District for her entry in the competition. She received a $100 award. Photo: Vista Irrigation District 2020 Student Poster Contest

Vista Irrigation District Names 2020 Student Poster Contest Winners

Vista Irrigation District has presented awards to three artistic fourth-grade students as winners of the District’s 2020 Water Awareness Poster Contest. The District’s board of directors selected the recipients at its July 15 meeting. This is the 28th year of the local contest. This year’s theme was “Love Water, Save Water.”

Karmen Isabel Simons, a fourth-grade student from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School in Vista, received first-place honors for her entry in the competition. She received a $100 award.

Karmen Isabel Simons, a fourth grade student from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School in Vista, received first place honors from the District for her entry in the competition. She received a $100 award. Photo: Vista Irrigation District 2020 Student Poster Contest

Karmen Isabel Simons, a fourth-grade student from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School in Vista, received first-place honors from the District for her entry in the competition. She received a $100 award. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Naiya Langley from Alamosa Park Elementary School in Oceanside and received a second-place award of $50.

Naiya Langley from Alamosa Park Elementary School in Oceanside received a second-place award of $50 for her entry. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Naiya Langley from Alamosa Park Elementary School in Oceanside received a second-place award of $50. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Angelica Zetina from Mission Meadows Elementary School in Oceanside received a third-place award of $25.

Angelica Zetina from Mission Meadows Elementary School in Oceanside received a third place award of $25 for her entry in the contest. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Angelica Zetina from Mission Meadows Elementary School in Oceanside received a third place award of $25 for her contest entry. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

‘Love Water, Save Water’ 2020 contest theme

The poster contest is open to all fourth-grade students in public and private schools within the District’s service areas in the city of Vista, and portions of San Marcos, Escondido, Oceanside, and unincorporated areas of San Diego County. Its goal is to promote understanding of water issues in elementary schools.

“Each year I continue to be amazed at the quality of the artwork produced by the students entering the contest,” said Brent Reyes, Vista Irrigation District water conservation specialist. “Each year it seems the Water Awareness Calendar created using the students’ artwork gets better and better.”

The three winning posters were selected from 110 entries based upon their depiction of the theme, artwork, originality, and poster design. Simons’ poster will appear in the 2021 Water Awareness Calendar. The calendar will be available free of charge at the District’s office in November 2020.

Fleet Science Center Offers Virtual Summer Camps

This summer, the Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park will turn curious kids into happy campers with science-themed summer camps. The Fleet’s Summer Camps provide exciting experiments, intriguing investigations and fantastic fun for kids. Virtual Summer Camps began June 15 and end Aug. 14. Details: https://www.fleetscience.org/events/summer-camps

 

Chula Vista Elementary students will explore science during "Innovation Week 2020." Photo: Chula Vista Elementary School District

Hydro Station Joins Virtual ‘Innovation Week’ May 26-29

The Chula Vista Elementary School District’s “Innovation Week 2020” from May 26 to 29 will make a virtue of going virtual, inviting the community to participate along with its students in four live science education events. The activities include a Hydro Station lesson about groundwater aquifers.

The Hydro Station is an interactive educational space at the Richard A. Reynolds Groundwater Desalination Facility, operated as a joint partnership between the school district, the Otay Water District, and the Sweetwater Authority.

“We’re proud that the school district can continue offering its programs at a time that’s needed now more than ever,” says Tenille Otero, Otay Water District communications officer. “Even better, is that anyone outside of the school district can experience these wonderful programs that the district offers.”

Live interactive events for students and public

“We are very excited to bring our innovative learning experiences to the San Diego region and beyond through these live, online events,” said Michael Bruder, instructional services coordinator with the Chula Vista Elementary School District. “We are also grateful to have the support of our wonderful community partners in making this happen.”

All live sessions start at 1 p.m. and will be hosted on the Microsoft Teams platform. The sessions are free and open to the public to join.

Treats teach kids about groundwater on May 28

The Hydro Station is an interactive educational space at the Richard A. Reynolds Groundwater Desalination Facility, operated as a joint partnership between the Chula Vista Elementary School District, the Otay Water District, and the Sweetwater Authority. Photo: Otay Water District

On Thursday, May 28, at 1 p.m. Hydro Station instructor Christy Bystrak will lead “Building an Edible Aquifer.”

Participants will learn about the geology of an aquifer including confining layers, contamination, recharge, and water tables, while constructing their own version using items found at home in the kitchen, including clear plastic cups, straws, food coloring, soda, ice cream, and different types of small candy or cereal.

Additional presentations include “Engineering Superhero Tech,” “Cooking Up S’More Energy,” and “Structures for Survival.”

Located in southern San Diego County, the Chula Vista Elementary School District’s 46 schools serve more than 29,600 students. Schools serve a vibrant, diverse community that features a blend of residential areas, recreational facilities, open space, and light industry.

CVESD offers innovative partnerships such as the Hydro Station project with the Otay Water District and Sweetwater Authority as a vital part of its technology-based curriculum to develop students’ creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills.

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.”

 

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.