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FPUD Board Appoints New Director

Fallbrook, Calif. –The Fallbrook Public Utility District board of directors appointed local businessman Dave Baxter to fill the board seat vacated in July by Al Gebhart.

Baxter, current president of the Live Oak Park Coalition, was selected during a special board meeting to fill the empty Subdistrict No. 1 seat. He is senior director at Relevant Solutions, a company providing business solutions through instrumentation, and rotating and thermal equipment.

 

Mary Maciel learns good safety practices as part of her summer internship with the Fallbrook Public Utility District. Photo: FPUD Water industry career opportunities

Fallbrook High School Summer Intern Learns About Water Industry Career Opportunities

The Fallbrook Public Utility District’s intern program is designed to prepare potential future employees to fill jobs that open up due to the ‘silver tsunami’ or wave of retirements in the water industry.

Mary Maciel, a junior at Fallbrook High, is Fallbrook Public Utility District’s second paid summer intern. She spends four hours a day each Wednesday working with each department including public affairs, customer service, engineering, construction and maintenance, engineering, water and wastewater operations, and meter reading.

The goal of the internship is to increase interest in FPUD and potentially draw local talent to the district. It is designed to identify career opportunities in the water industry and provide a hands-on learning experience leading to a career with the Fallbrook agency.

Aaron Cook, the district’s senior engineer, was born in De Luz and lived in the area until he went to college. He started his career after college in other cities, but wanted to come back home. He applied for his current  job as soon as he saw the opening. He has been at FPUD for nearly a year.

“It’s definitely an attractive place to work for raising a family,” Cook said.

In the next five to 10 years, FPUD expects a substantial number of employees to retire. And with retirements come job openings.

Growth trend in water industry career opportunities

Student intern Mary Maciel job shadows FPUD Utility Technician II Toby Stoneburner during her summer internship with the Fallbrook Public Utility District. Photo: FPUD Water industry career opportunities

Student intern Mary Maciel job shadows FPUD Utility Technician II Toby Stoneburner during her summer internship. Photo: Fallbrook Public Utility District

Maciel says she could see herself working in the water industry in the future.

There are currently 12 FPUD employees eligible for retirement, which is about 18 percent of the district’s workforce. As previously reported on Water News Network, it is an ongoing concern for the agency.

“These are good-paying jobs with good benefits, but you just don’t find a lot of people coming out of school who are interested, and we are struggling to attract skilled employees from the private sector,” said Jack Bebee, Fallbrook PUD general manager.

‘Silver Tsunami’ in water industry

Water News Network reports career opportunities are ample due to an imminent glut of retirements by an aging workforce. Forecasts call for between 1,200 and 1,500 open positions in the next three to four years in San Diego County alone, said Sandy Kerl, the San Diego County Water Authority’s acting general manager.

Forty percent of employees at the Padre Dam Municipal Water District will retire within the next three to five years, said Lisa Sorce, human resources director. Representatives from other utilities presented similar numbers.

READ MORE: Aging Water Workfore Spurs Industry Recruiting Efforts

 

Santa Margarita River Project - FPUD - Camp Pendleton

Santa Margarita River Project to Increase Local Water Supply

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors voted in July to authorize a Local Resources Program Agreement with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Fallbrook Public Utility District for the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project.

The Local Resources Program, managed by MWD, provides funding for local water supply projects. MWD is expected to provide final approval of the project in coming months.

Earlier this year, an agreement between FPUD and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton settled a lawsuit that was filed in 1951 over the right to use water from the Santa Margarita River.

Water from Santa Margarita River would reduce imported water demand

The upcoming groundwater recharge project will improve existing facilities and build new facilities to capture surface runoff from the Santa Margarita River. When water flows are high, the runoff would recharge groundwater basins on Camp Pendleton. New and existing wells and pumps will transfer the groundwater to FPUD, which will treat and deliver it to customers.

Water from the river would reduce FPUD’s demand on imported water and minimize Camp Pendleton’s reliance on imported water.

Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use Project. Graphic: Fallbrook Public Utility District

Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use Project. Graphic: Fallbrook Public Utility District

Project would provide 30% of Fallbrook’s total water supply

Facilities will be constructed by Camp Pendleton and FPUD. Camp Pendleton has already constructed its own bi-directional pipeline and related infrastructure, as part of the project, which received congressional funding.

FPUD will construct groundwater extraction wells, a groundwater treatment plant, pump station, storage tank and conveyance and distribution pipelines among other things. The cost of the project is $54.4 million.

FPUD expects construction of the pipeline and treatment plant will begin this fall and take about two years. When completed, the project is expected to produce an estimated 3,100 acre-feet a year. One-acre foot, the equivalent of 326,000 gallons, can supply the average household needs of 2.5 four-person families for one year.

The project would provide about 30 percent of FPUD’s total water supply and nearly all of Camp Pendleton’s water needs.

Fallbrook Public Utility District Logo

One Seat Open on FPUD Board

Fallbrook, Calif. – One seat is open for the Fallbrook Public Utility District board of directors.

Local residents interested in serving on the FPUD board can apply by writing a statement of qualifications that includes name, physical address, contact information and a brief background of education. The deadline to apply is Aug. 16 at 5 p.m. The statement must be delivered to the FPUD office’s board secretary, at 990 E. Mission Road in Fallbrook.

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors celebrated the agency’s 75th anniversary.

Water Authority Celebrates 75 Years of Service to San Diego County

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors celebrated the agency’s 75th anniversary during today’s Board meeting, which included 20 proclamations honoring the agency for its service to the region dating back to 1944.

Cities across the region joined the state Assembly and Senate, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and other state and local leaders to formally mark the occasion. The San Diego City Council and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors even proclaimed today “San Diego County Water Authority Day” in honor of the agency’s legacy of water supply reliability.

75 years of service

“Starting with the historic first water deliveries in the 1940s, the Water Authority has partnered with our member agencies to build, operate and maintain the vital infrastructure that supports our region’s $231 billion economy and unparalleled quality of life,” said Board Chair Jim Madaffer. “Our collective investments have created extraordinary advances in water supply reliability that are sustained by the daily vigilance necessary to operate and maintain such a complex system.

“While today we celebrate the past, the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies continue to focus on the future by fostering innovative solutions to ever-changing water resource challenges,” Madaffer said. “Together, we will supply the San Diego region with safe and reliable water supplies for generations to come.”

San Diego County Water Authority service sArea and 24 member agencies

Since 1991, the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have deployed one of the most aggressive water supply diversification strategies in the nation to improve regional water supply reliability. In the years ahead, member agency projects will play an increasingly important role in continuing to ensure reliability for the San Diego region.

Forward thinking on water

The Water Authority’s current forward-thinking efforts include developing water storage capacity in Lake Mead to provide additional drought resilience for San Diego and the Southwest.

The agency also is working closely with the City of San Diego to assess a potential pumped storage project at San Vicente Reservoir that could help meet clean energy goals and benefit water ratepayers. In addition, the Water Authority is analyzing the costs and benefits of a regional water conveyance system that could help San Diego County and the entire Southwest to more effectively manage water resources.

Profound impact

During today’s ceremonies, water agency, civic and business leaders noted the Water Authority’s profound impact on the San Diego region and wider water issues over the past 75 years.

  • “A reliable water supply is critical for San Diego’s regional economy and for maintaining a competitive business climate. The business community applauds the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies for their leadership, and for increasing the county’s water supply reliability with investments that keep our economy growing.” — Mark Cafferty, president and CEO, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp.
  • “It is a pleasure to celebrate the San Diego County Water Authority’s 75th anniversary. We share a common history and a common vision for water supply reliability that has been essential to the economic vitality and prosperity to all San Diegans. We look forward to strengthening our relationship to meet the future needs of San Diegans.” — Gloria D. Gray, chair, Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors
  • “Farming is a foundational piece of our regional economy and quality of life – but it doesn’t happen without a reliable water supply. Our farmers are constantly innovating to use water more efficiently by adopting new technology and planting more-efficient crops.” — Eric Larson, executive director, San Diego County Farm Bureau
  • “On behalf of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors, I salute the San Diego County Water Authority on its 75th anniversary. Our two agencies are partners in the nation’s largest agriculture to urban transfer and in the process, we have forged a durable alliance at the Salton Sea. It is a relationship that the IID highly values.” — Erik Ortega, president, Imperial County Irrigation District Board of Directors
  • “By combining a diversified set of water supply sources with greatly enhanced storage capacity, we are developing a more robust safety net for San Diego County.” — Jerry Sanders, president and CEO, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

On June 9, 1944, San Diego voters approved the Water Authority’s formation under the County Water Authority Act. Imported water arrived three years later to slake the thirst of a growing population just weeks before local supplies would have run out.

The modern era of the Water Authority started during deep, drought-induced water supply cuts in the early 1990s. Since then, Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have deployed one of the most aggressive water supply diversification strategies in the nation to improve regional water supply reliability.

At the same time, the agencies have aggressively helped to reduce per capita water use so that the total regional water use today is well below 1990 levels despite significant growth in the population and economy.

San Vicente Aqueduct

Officials commemorate installation of the first portion of pipe along the new Second Pipeline of the San Vicente Aqueduct in 1951. Photo: Water Authority

75th anniversary milestones

The Water Authority reached several major milestones over the past two decades. They include:

  • In 2003, Olivenhain Dam was the first major new dam built in San Diego in more than 50 years. At 318 feet, it was the tallest roller-compacted concrete dam at the time.
  • In 2008, the Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant north of San Marcos began operations. It was the largest submerged membrane water treatment plant in the world when it was commissioned.
  • In 2011, the San Vicente Tunnel and Pipeline Project – an 11-mile long, 12-foot diameter tunnel with an 8-1/2-foot diameter pipeline – created a link from the City of San Diego’s San Vicente Reservoir to the Water Authority’s Second Aqueduct, greatly improving the Water Authority’s ability to distribute water and store water in the reservoir.

San Vicente Dam raise

  • In 2012, the Lake Hodges Hydropower Facility started serving the dual purposes of connecting the lake to the Water Authority’s aqueduct system and generating 40 megawatts of clean, on-demand electricity.
  • In 2014, the San Vicente Dam Raise Project, the tallest dam-raise project in U.S. history, expanded the reservoir’s capacity by more than 157,000 acre-feet.
  • In 2015, the $1 billion Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, distribution pipeline and related facilities started commercial operations as the largest seawater desalination project in North America.
  • The Water Authority’s Asset Management Program, which includes a multi-year project to reline 82 miles of large-diameter prestressed concrete cylinder pipelines with new steel liners, helps to prevent pipeline failure and extend their lifespans by 75 years or more at significantly less cost than traditional pipeline replacement programs.
San Diego regional water quality regulators issued a new permit for the development of permanent, stand-alone seawater intake and discharge facilities at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: Water Authority

San Diego regional water quality regulators issued a new permit in May 2019 for the development of permanent, stand-alone seawater intake and discharge facilities at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: Water Authority

Worldwide recognition

The Water Authority’s innovative efforts have been recognized nationally and internationally.

In 2017, for instance, the president of the American Society of Civil Engineers recognized the Water Authority’s Emergency & Carryover Storage Project for winning ASCE’s top international engineering award.

The same year, Water Authority was honored by the Association of California Water Agencies – the nation’s largest statewide coalition of water agencies – for innovation and excellence in water resources management with its addition of supplies from the Carlsbad Desalination Project. And in 2016, the Water Authority received a top national award from the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies for its commitment to improving the region’s water supply reliability in a manner that balances economic, social and environmental needs.

Agave attenuata is one of the plants available to qualified Fallbrook PUD customers in its new plant voucher program. Photo: Fallbrook PUD plant vouchers

Fallbrook PUD Offers Plant Vouchers For Sustainable Landscaping

The Fallbrook Public Utility District will offer residents in its service area free low-water or drought-tolerant plants beginning July 1. The district will give qualified residents vouchers redeemable for plants at Silverthorn Ranch Nursery in Fallbrook, which produces plants using recycled water.

“Customers will go through an application process and qualified applicants will receive free plants to install in their landscape,” said Mick Cothran, Fallbrook Public Utility District engineering technician. “We want to encourage and help our customers replace turf with plants that don’t require a lot of water, and show them drought tolerant plants can be beautiful additions to their landscaping.”

The San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies have encouraged homeowners to implement sustainable landscaping through free ‘WaterSmart’ landscaping classes, and through a variety of rebate programs.

Online application for plant vouchers posted starting July 1

A list of the plants being offered through FPUD’s program is included on its website. Choices include plants like this Beaked Yucca (Yucca rostrada). Photo: Fallbrook PUD

A list of the plants being offered through Fallbrook’s program is included on its website. Choices include plants like this Beaked Yucca (Yucca rostrata). Photo: Fallbrook Public Utility District

An online application will be posted on the FPUD website starting July 1, and submissions will be processed on a first-come, first served basis. Applicants will also be required to submit two photos of the area(s) to be planted, and a basic plan or sketch of the project.

Sustainable landscaping

A list of the plants being offered through FPUD’s program is included on its website. Choices range from five-gallon Dragon trees (Dracaena draco) and Beaked Yucca (Yucca rostrata) to Mini Elephant’s Food (Portulacaria afra ‘Mini’), Silver Dollar Jade (Crassula arborescens), and small succulents including assorted aloe, aeonium, and echeveria.

San Diego County residents have embraced sustainable landscaping practices as a result of increased attention to water conservation, due in part to recurring periods of drought over the past thirty years.

The FPUD program is made possible with grant funding provided by two Metropolitan Water District of Southern California grants through the Water Authority.

Fallbrook Public Utility District logo

Landmark Agreement on Santa Margarita River Project Signed By Federal Judge

Fallbrook, Calif. – A lawsuit filed in 1951 has finally been settled as of April 29, 2019. After 68 long years of litigation, planning and brainstorming, the Fallbrook Public Utility District and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton jointly hailed the end of the lawsuit at a district board meeting May 20.

The Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project was signed by U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel in April. This is a landmark agreement that finally, officially, settles how the two will share their water rights to the river.

 

Prospective students tour the Cuyamaca College Water and Wastewater Technology lab facilities during a recent open house. Photo: Water Authority

Aging Water Workforce Spurs Industry Recruiting Efforts

A flood of water industry professionals nearing retirement has prompted local agencies to form a task force charged with assessing ways to develop the water workforce of the future. Education leaders are stepping up outreach to fill their career training programs, and water agencies are looking for new ways to attract employees.

“For many years now, we’ve been talking about the ‘Silver Tsunami’ of aging baby boomers who are going to be leaving the workforce, but it really is coming to fruition now,” said Don Jones, who helped spearhead Cuyamaca College’s new Center for Water Studies housing the college’s Water & Wastewater Technology program. “Almost one-third of water industry professionals will be at or nearing retirement age in the next few years. When you combine that with the fact that the unemployment rate is already at record or near-record lows and other industries are facing the same challenges and going after the same people we are, we have some serious work to do.”

Those concerns have spurred the San Diego County Water Authority and other agencies to convene a regional task force comprising utility directors and general managers, which has been meeting for months to assess workforce-related challenges, collect and analyze employment data, and craft a plan for moving forward.

Water industry offers competitive salaries

At the Fallbrook Public Utility District approximately 40 percent of the agency’s 68 employees will be eligible to retire within five years. Seventeen percent are currently eligible for retirement. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

Approximately 40 percent of the Fallbrook Public Utility District ‘s 68 employees will be eligible to retire within five years. Seventeen percent are currently eligible for retirement. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

The regional water and wastewater industry expects to need to fill approximately 400 positions annually to keep pace with retirements and vacancies caused by employees leaving the area.

The challenges face both large and small agencies. In the City of San Diego, 640 of approximately 1,600 water industry professionals will be eligible to retire within the next three to four years. At the Fallbrook Public Utility District approximately 40 percent of the agency’s 68 employees will be eligible to retire within five years. Seventeen percent are currently eligible for retirement.

“These are good-paying jobs with good benefits, but you just don’t find a lot of people coming out of school who are interested, and we are struggling to attract skilled employees from the private sector,” said Jack Bebee, Fallbrook general manager.

Bebee pointed to the recent posting of a senior engineering position at the utility that pays an annual salary of close to $150,000. The district thought the salary would be competitive enough to draw people from the private sector, but only one of four applicants was from the private sector. When Bebee was hired for a similar position nine years ago, he competed against 40 other applicants.

A 2018 Brookings Institution report notes the employment void exists even though water workforce occupations not only pay more on average compared to all occupations nationally, but also pay up to 50 percent more to workers at the lower ends of the income scale. In San Diego County, water and wastewater plant and systems operators are earning an average salary of $70,000 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Skilled workers needed to operate increasingly complex systems

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that fewer people may be needed in coming years as water and wastewater plants become more automated, a skilled workforce is required to operate increasingly complex controls and systems. Some of the most advanced facilities in the world are in Southern California, including the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, the naton’s largest desalination plant.

Local educational efforts in the industry are addressing the potential worker shortage:

  • Palomar College’s Water and Wastewater Technology programs, provides pre-employment training and advanced courses for people who want to become certified as a water or wastewater operator.
  • The Water Authority’s student internship program pays $12 an hour and has interns working at four different water agencies throughout the year.
  • California State University, San Marcos Certificate in Water Management & Leadership program is geared toward workers already employed as intermediate-level supervisors in the water industry and offers training and skills needed for higher management positions.
  • The Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College.

The Brookings report noted the glut of retirements offers an opportunity to diversify the industry. In January, the Center for Water Studies held the first in an annual series of Women in Water symposiums, attracting several hundred women and high school girls from throughout Southern California interested in a new career.

“Challenges can prompt people to get together and look at new ways of doing things,” said Greg Thomas, general manager at the Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District in Escondido. “This is a great industry, it pays well, and you’re doing something good for people and society.”

 

Selling the land to a conservancy ensures the popular Sandia Creek hiking trails will remain preserved and open to the public forever. Photo: FPUD Fallbrook Hiking Destination

Popular Fallbrook Hiking Destination Preserved by FPUD Deal

Fallbrook, Calif. – The parking lot at the Sandia Creek trailhead was supposed to be 150 feet under water, if everything had gone as planned.

The land was supposed to be flooded and turned into a dam. That would have made for some beautiful lakefront property in Fallbrook.

But things didn’t quite turn out as planned back in the 1960s when Fallbrook Public Utility District purchased 1,384 acres of rural property there.

The intent was to dam the Santa Margarita River and share the water with Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

But many things got in the way of that plan. War happened. Leadership faces changed. There was lack of urgency and funding. Legal issues over water rights ensued. And environmental interests began to grow with the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act.

Since that time, the property has remained untouched and more than 18 miles of hiking trails have developed. Those trails have become a cornerstone in Fallbrook, attracting up to 80,000 hikers and horseback riders each year.

Earlier this year, FPUD agreed to sell the land to Wildlands Conservancy for $10 million. The two entities are currently in escrow.

Why sell to a conservancy, not a developer for more money?

Assemblymember Marie Waldron presented the district’s board of directors with a certificate of recognition for successfully preserving the land. She also presented the Wildlands Conservancy and the Fallbrook Trails council with certificates. Photo: FPUD

Assemblymember Marie Waldron presented the district’s board of directors with a certificate of recognition for successfully preserving the land. She also presented the Wildlands Conservancy and the Fallbrook Trails council with certificates. Photo: FPUD

Selling the land to a conservancy ensures the popular Fallbrook hiking destination will remain preserved and open to the public forever, something the FPUD board of directors insisted upon before agreeing to sell the land. Thanks to a carefully crafted sales and legal agreement, the land can never be turned into a housing development or anything other than the trails.

“We all worked so hard on this for so long and we are so happy and proud these trails will remain open indefinitely,” said Al Gebhart, FPUD board president.

This money, along with construction of the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project, will help mitigate long-term water costs. The Conjunctive Use Project is a local water project 66 years in the making. Once built, it will provide about a third of FPUD’s water.

Having local water will help stabilize the cost of water for customers. The local water will be less expensive than buying imported water, which travels over 400 miles to get to Fallbrook, and continues to rise in cost each year. Currently, FPUD buys 100 percent imported water. Over time, the project will provide rate relief to FPUD customers.

Staying in charge of the hiking trails

The all-volunteer Fallbrook Trails Council has been maintaining the hiking trails for the past 20 years and will continue to maintain and oversee them once escrow closes. FPUD and Wildlands expect escrow to close by the end of the year.

Wildlands will have a dedicated full-time staff person. Zach Kantor-Anaya will be the manager of the trails preserve. Wildlands Conservancy maintains California’s largest nonprofit preserve system, emphasizing education and recreational use of conservation land.

 

Jack Bebee was named the new general manager of the Fallbrook Public Utility District after a decade of serving the district. Photo: Courtesy FPUD

Jack Bebee Officially Named General Manager for Fallbrook Public Utility District

Fallbrook, Calif. – After a nationwide search with a pool of 54 candidates, the Fallbrook Public Utility District has a new general manager at the helm. Jack Bebee has been the district’s acting general manager for months. Prior to that, he served as the district’s chief engineer and assistant general manager.

Bebee was selected by the board of directors in March but remained in the “acting general manager” role until his contract was approved at the Aug. 27 board meeting.

He replaces Brian Brady who retired in January after seven years with the district.

Bebee, 42, is a civil engineer with a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Washington and Lee University. He also holds two master’s degrees: one in civil engineering from University of Illinois and another in business administration from Cal State University San Marcos.

Beebe instrumental in innovative FPUD projects

He has been with the district 10 years and came to FPUD from the private sector. He was hired as a consulting engineer working for Malcolm Pirnie (now Arcadis), an environmental engineering company with a primary focus in water and wastewater, where he managed large-facility treatment projects.

Bebee was the lead in the job to begin the state-of-the-art process of using ultraviolet light to disinfect the water in Red Mountain Reservoir, the district’s 440-million-gallon reservoir.

This innovative project was the first of its kind in California. Using UV light to disinfect the open, treated-water reservoir meant FPUD could forego more expensive options: either placing a cover on the reservoir or building new covered storage facilities.

Bebee’s expertise quickly caught the attention of FPUD management and he was hired soon after completing the job.

Since then, that project has received state awards and Bebee has been instrumental in a number of other projects for the district.

Engineering experience and strong community commitment

“We knew we needed someone with strong engineering experience and an equally strong commitment to the community,” said Board President Al Gebhart. “Jack is very intelligent, incredibly dedicated and works hard until the job is done – and done well.”

Other projects he has lead include the installation of solar panels at the water reclamation plant on Alturas Road, a massive overhaul and upgrade of the plant in 2015, and most recently the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use joint project with Camp Pendleton which will allow FPUD to use local water.

“Jack was a key player in this project and reaching a landmark decision resolving 66 years of legal battles,” Gebhart said.

The conjunctive use project will capture locally available water that currently flows through the Santa Margarita River and into the ocean. The project creates a local water supply that will reduce FPUD’s dependence on expensive imported water. It is expected to produce about 30 percent of the district’s water and is anticipated to be online in 2020.

Bebee lives in Bonsall with his wife, Candace.