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Water Utility Hero of the Week: Ivan Martinez, City of Poway

This feature highlights water utility employees in the San Diego region working during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure a safe, reliable and plentiful water supply. The water industry is among the sectors that are classified as essential. Ivan Martinez, City of Poway Wastewater Utilities Worker, is the Water Utility Hero of the Week.

Water Utility Hero of the Week-Ivan Martinez-City of Poway

Water Utility Hero of the Week: Ivan Martinez, City of Poway

Editor’s Note: This feature highlights water utility employees in the San Diego region working during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure a safe, reliable and plentiful water supply. The water industry is among the sectors that are classified as essential. Ivan Martinez, City of Poway Wastewater Utilities Worker, is the Water Utility Hero of the Week.

Water Utility Hero of the Week: Ivan Martinez

Job/Agency: City of Poway Wastewater Utilities Worker

 

How did you become interested in working in the water industry?

Wastewater wasn’t my first choice, I had planned to work in another industry, but now I am very happy to be working in this field.

How has your job changed during the pandemic?

Our job has changed in a big way. With this pandemic and with a shortage of toilet paper, people are using other alternatives such as paper towels and wipes. It has made an impact on our wastewater system because these items are being flushed down the toilet and that slows down the flow or causes a blockage.  We are reporting to more alarms than usual, at all hours of the day, to make sure the wastewater flows.

How are you keeping safe?

Nothing much has changed because we already take sanitary precautions. We just need to clean our equipment more frequently, constantly wash our hands, and ensure we wear our additional PPE (personal protective equipment) during this pandemic.

What are you most looking forward to after the crisis ends?

I just hope that everyone is safe and healthy. Also I hope that everyone goes back to using toilet paper. LOL.

The Water Utility Hero of the Week highlights essential work performed during the COVID-19 pandemic by employees of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies

San Diego County Water Authority Member Agency Map

National Public Works Week Recognizes Essential Employees

Every time you fill up a water bottle or give the kids a bath, it’s due to the people working as essential employees behind the operation of water and wastewater systems within the San Diego County region’s public works infrastructure.

National Public Works Week takes place the third week of May annually in recognition of the public works professionals who provide and maintain vital public works infrastructure for the key contribution they make every day.

Water industry professionals are committed to serving San Diego County year-round by ensuring the seamless delivery of a safe and reliable water supply. During the coronavirus pandemic, dedicated essential employees have demonstrated exceptional dedication and creativity, making 2020 National Public Works Week especially significant.

Chris Walter, Helix Water District Inspector II, works while wearing a mask as an essential employee. Photo: Helix Water District

National Public Works Week Recognizes Essential Employees

Every time you fill up a water bottle or give the kids a bath, it’s due to the people working as essential employees behind the operation of water and wastewater systems within the San Diego County region’s public works infrastructure.

National Public Works Week takes place the third week of May annually in recognition of the public works professionals who provide and maintain vital public works infrastructure for the key contribution they make every day.

Water industry professionals are committed to serving San Diego County year-round by ensuring the seamless delivery of a safe and reliable water supply. During the coronavirus pandemic, dedicated essential employees have demonstrated exceptional dedication and creativity, making 2020 National Public Works Week especially significant.

Essential workers keep the water flowing

Helix Water District crews remain on the job during the coronavirus pandemic as essential employees being honored during National Public Works Week. Photo: Helix Water District

Helix Water District crews remain on the job during the coronavirus pandemic as essential employees being honored during National Public Works Week. Photo: Helix Water District

“Our employees are essential workers and they don’t take that lightly,” said Eric Heidemann, City of Poway director of public works. “From our water treatment plant operators to our technicians out in the field, they care for our Poway community and are committed to keeping our water supply safe during this crisis.”

Most of the infrastructure responsible for delivering the water the public depends on every day is hidden. This can make it easy to take a safe and reliable water supply for granted.

Bernardo Separa represents thousands of essential employees in public works being recognized during National Public Works Week. Photo: Otay Water District

Bernardo Separa of the Otay Water District represents thousands of essential employees in public works being recognized during National Public Works Week. Photo: Otay Water District

“It is very rewarding to complete projects as a team,” said Bernardo Separa, engineering design technician with the Otay Water District. “Knowing that you contributed and made a difference as a team member is a tremendous feeling.”

Safe, reliable water supply

“Our dedicated Helix employees help keep East County communities running by providing a safe and reliable water supply, 24/7,” said Carlos Lugo, General Manager, Helix Water District. “During National Public Works Week, we want to say thank you to our Helix employees for keeping the water flowing.”

Career opportunities available in water and wastewater industry

(L to R): Terry Zaragoza, Chad Weigel and Vernon Fitzpatrick from the City of Poway perform routine maintenance on a wastewater pipeline as essential employees. Photo: City of Poway

(L to R): Terry Zaragoza, Chad Weigel and Vernon Fitzpatrick from the City of Poway perform routine maintenance on a wastewater pipeline as essential employees. Photo: City of Poway

Public agencies like the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies play an important role in the region, both in terms of employment and providing critical services to support 3.3 million residents.

With approximately 1,400 water and wastewater jobs expected to open up across San Diego County in the next five years due to the “silver tsunami” wave of Baby Boomers reaching retirement age, career opportunities have never been more promising.

The Water Authority and its 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.

Shelter in Place IID Employees to Return Home

Thirty-two Imperial Irrigation District (IID), employees committed to serving the community are finally going home after three weeks of fully committing to living at their job site to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The IID’s shelter in place program housed 32 essential employees in individual trailers.

All this was done to make sure employees stay protected in order to continue to bring water and energy to the 400,000 people they serve in the Imperial and Coachella Valley.

Coronavirus: The Workers Keeping the Water Flowing

The way we use water is one of the many aspects of daily life that has changed in lockdown.

Commercial use may be down, but domestic use has increased.

With greater levels of hand washing, tea drinking and gardening, demand has risen “considerably,” according to David Murray, a field technician for the water network.

Mr. Murray has worked with water for 35 years and has seen how our recent usage has put pressure on the system.

Miramar Reservoir will reopen for public recreation on Friday, May 25. Photo: City of San Diego San Diego Reservoirs reopen

Three San Diego Reservoirs Reopen for Public Recreation

Three City of San Diego reservoirs will reopen for public recreation this weekend. Miramar Reservoir in Scripps Ranch and Lake Murray in San Carlos open on Friday. The Lower Otay Reservoir will reopen on Saturday, May 16.

The three reservoirs will be open during regular business hours for walking, jogging, cycling, fishing, and boating, with new safety protocols in place. Normal fishing and boating fees will apply.

New protocols include:

  • Restrooms cleaned every two hours
  • Parking lot capacity reduced by 50% to maintain physical distancing
  • Users must comply with County of San Diego public health orders, including facial coverings (masks) and physical distancing

“As we continue to reopen safely and responsibly, we’re looking to expand recreational opportunities for San Diegans eager to stretch their legs or take their boat out on the lake,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

New protocols enforced through education

San Diego Police Department personnel will enforce illegal parking at the lakes, in the bike lanes, along the red curbs, or on sidewalks. Parking congestion and illegally parked vehicles originally forced San Diego to close the reservoirs to recreation on March 22. Any violations of the new protocols will be monitored with an education-first focus.

Four other San Diego reservoirs – El Capitan, Hodges, San Vicente, and Upper Otay – are still being evaluated for potential reopening at a future date. Barrett and Sutherland Reservoirs will remain closed all year.

Pedestrians at Santee Lakes. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Walkers at Santee Lakes. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Santee Lakes reopened its day-use park day with some restrictions on May 1. There is a limited occupancy each day, physical distancing is required, and hours are limited to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The lake’s campsites remain open, but campers must practice physical distancing while on site.

For more information about Santee Lakes go to: https://www.santeelakes.com/COVID19_dayuse_protocols.

For more information about the City of San Diego’s reservoirs go to: sandiego.gov/reservoirs-lakes

Sweetwater Authority Governing Board and essential employees display dedication to service, community during COVID-19 crisis

Chula Vista, Calif. – In the midst of an unprecedented crisis, Sweetwater Authority (Authority) Board Members and employees have focused all efforts on accomplishing three key goals: provide safe, reliable water; do our part to protect customers from financial impacts of the pandemic; and care for the community we serve.

Water Utility Hero of the Week: Erick Del Bosque, Sweetwater Authority

This feature highlights water utility employees in the San Diego region working during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure a safe, reliable and plentiful water supply. The water industry is among the sectors that are classified as essential. Sweetwater Authority Engineering Manager Erick Del Bosque is the Water Utility Hero of the Week.

Water Quality Lab Team Rises to Coronavirus Pandemic Challenges

The coronavirus pandemic forced the City of Escondido’s Water Quality Laboratory to rethink its lab operations without compromising community health or employee wellbeing while ensuring the clean, safe, and efficient operation of the city. Through teamwork and creative thinking, the lab found success in maintaining its essential work.

“Whether we have a pandemic or not, people still want to open their taps and have clean drinking water,” said Ralph Ginese, supervising chemist with the City of Escondido.