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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

 

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 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.”

FPUD is embarking on a number of prevention, maintenance and improvement projects to safeguard and maintain its pipes and infrastructure. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

Fallbrook PUD Goes With the Maintenance Flow to Provide Reliable Service

Water pipeline blowouts like the one the day before Thanksgiving 2017 at the intersection of Stagecoach Road and Ranchwood Lane in Fallbrook provide periodic reminders about the realities of aging infrastructure.

Preventing these type of emergencies is the driving force behind planned shutdowns at water agencies such as the Fallbrook Public Utility District; investments today will avoid similar emergencies and unplanned water outages in the years ahead.

Many of FPUD’s pipes are more than 50 years old. A pipeline’s life can be 80 to 100 years, but many of the early lines that were installed were not put in at today’s standards and have shorter lives.

In fact, some of the early pipelines installed in the area were originally excavated from March Air Force Base in Riverside County and re-installed in Fallbrook, said FPUD general manager Jack Bebee. Many of these pipelines have reached the end of their useful lifespans.

That’s why FPUD is embarking on a number of prevention, maintenance and improvement projects to safeguard and maintain our pipes and infrastructure. Waiting to fix them after they break isn’t the most cost-effective and convenient way to operate.

“We’re trying to prevent a continued Band-Aid approach,” said Bebee.

Proactive approach prioritizes greatest need first

The shutdowns and retrofits are part of FPUD’s proactive approach to pipeline and valve replacement. By identifying pipes that are in the worst condition, the agency is prioritizing those needing to be replaced first, resulting in fewer pipe failures, blowouts and spills.

As part of its ongoing maintenance program, FPUD has refurbished six of its eight steel tanks over the past several years. It is also working on systematic valve replacement covering the entire community area. Valves are a critical component of water and sewer system infrastructure to limit the size of any shutdown.

Annually, the district also replaces or relines sewer manholes and sewer lines. Some of the manholes date so far back they are made of brick. Only FPUD’s sewer customers pay for sewer improvements, and only water customers pay for water improvements.

All FPUD construction work will be on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., with an exception for projects that disrupt businesses. Those projects may be scheduled overnight. FPUD customers will receive both a letter and phone call if the planned shutdown will affect their water service.

FPUD posts regular updates to its website at www.fpud.com and on its Twitter account, @Fallbrook water

Residents can also visit the FPUD Facebook page for other water-related updates.

 

Contest winners honored at December board meeting: Top row: public affairs officer Noelle Denke, general manager Jack Bebee, board president Al Gebhart. Middle row: Mariana Jimenez, Stephania Miranda, Lexie Graves, Magdaleny Caralampio, America Perez Martinez, Maria Ordonez Rodriguez, Jordyn Jones. Last row: Hudson Quinn, Connor Siegler, Gabriel Velasco, Antonio Jesus. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

Young Artists Featured in Fallbrook PUD Conservation Calendar

Fourth-graders from five Fallbrook-area elementary schools put pens, crayons and watercolors to work with the goal of creating the best and brightest water-conservation posters in competition to become part of the 2019 Fallbrook Public Utility District’s “Be Water Smart” calendar.

Two hundred posters demonstrated the students’ enthusiasm and creativity. Out of these entries, 14 were honored in the 2019 calendar.

Gabriel Velasco's entry was chosen by the judges to appear on the 2019 calendar cover. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

Gabriel Velasco’s entry was chosen by the judges to appear on the 2019 calendar cover. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

The free calendars are available at the Fallbrook Public Utility District office, 990 E. Mission Road in Fallbrook, during business hours while supplies last.

The pupils’ colorful images vividly depict the contest’s theme, “Be Water Smart.” The district’s panel of judges viewed all the entries to find the most eye-catching artwork that successfully communicated the need for saving water.

Winners recognized at Fallbrook PUD board meeting

The winning fourth-grade artists were recognized at the Fallbrook PUD board of directors meeting on Dec. 10. In addition to being featured in the calendar, each winning artist was presented with their original artwork matted and framed for them to keep. They also received a signed certificate of commendation from the district, along with prizes such as school supplies and gift cards.

First place winner America Perez Martinez receives congratulations from Fallbrook PUD board president Al Gebhart and general manager Jack Bebee. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

First place winner America Perez Martinez receives congratulations from Fallbrook PUD Board President Al Gebhart and General Manager Jack Bebee. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

As a special award, the first-, second- and third-place student artists, plus the cover artist, received a personalized T-shirt with their winning artwork printed on it. Those artists are:

First place: America Perez Martinez, Fallbrook STEM Academy

Second place: Stephania Miranda, Maie Ellis Elementary

Third place: Hudson Quinn, Maie Ellis Elementary

Cover artist: Gabriel Velasco, La Paloma Elementary

Additional monthly winners include Magaly Maldonado, Magdaleny Caralampio, Antonio Jesus, Maria Ordonez-Rodriguez, Mariana Jimenez and America Giles of Maie Ellis Elementary; Jordyn Jones of William H. Frazier Elementary; Connor Siegler, Lexie Graves and Wendy Sanchez Hernandez of La Paloma Elementary.

The annual contest is open only to fourth-graders in the FPUD service area after they complete classroom instruction about water conservation and the water cycle. Students attending Fallbrook STEM Academy, William H. Frazier, La Paloma, Maie Ellis and Live Oak elementary schools submitted entries.

All 14 pieces of artwork will be displayed on the FPUD website. They will also be displayed in the FPUD boardroom through 2019.

 

 

 

Young Artists Featured In Fallbrook PUD Conservation Calendar

Fourth-graders from five Fallbrook-area elementary schools put pens, crayons and watercolors to work with the goal of creating the best and brightest water-conservation posters in competition to become part of the 2019 Fallbrook Public Utility District’s “Be Water Smart” calendar. Two hundred posters demonstrated the students’ enthusiasm and creativity. Out of these entries, 14 were honored in the 2019 calendar. The free calendars are available at the Fallbrook Public Utility District office, 990 E. Mission Road in Fallbrook, during business hours while supplies last. The pupils’ colorful images vividly depict the contest’s theme, “Be Water Smart.” The district’s panel of judges viewed all the entries to find the most eye-catching artwork that successfully communicated the need for saving water.

A new emergency generator kept water servicie running during recent wildfires in the Fallbrook PUD service area. Photo: Fallbrook PUD emergency preparedness

Emergency Preparedness Pays Off for Fallbrook PUD

When residents in De Luz were forced to evacuate about 100 homes during the Rock Fire in July, an emergency generator installed by the Fallbrook Public Utility District proved its value by providing water to help firefighters extinguish the blaze.

The generator was installed about a year ago at the Donnil Pump Station at a cost of about $140,000. Since then, several fires have sparked in the hilly backcountry community north of Fallbrook.

The quick-burning Rock Fire broke out mid-afternoon on July 28 near Sandia Creek and Rock Mountain just south of the Riverside County line. The blaze grew quickly to 74 acres within two hours. Nearby residents were advised to evacuate, affecting about 100 homes.

San Diego Gas & Electric shut off the power for safety to 530 residents in the area at 4:12 p.m., according to information on the SDG&E outage website. The outage cut power to the pump station. FPUD kept water running thanks to the new generator, which is among several recent district projects and upgrades designed to maintain water service during emergencies.

The fire grew to 225 acres, but by 7:30 p.m. the forward spread was stopped. Power was restored gradually through the night, and the evacuation order was lifted the next morning.

Important community safeguard now in place

“Now, we can cover nearly all of the De Luz area during a power outage,” said FPUD General Manager Jack Bebee. “Fire has the potential to quickly spread, so this is a very important safeguard to have in place.”

The Donnil Pump Station conveys water from the San Diego County Water Authority’s aqueduct to the high-pressure zone in De Luz. The station was built before FPUD merged with De Luz Heights Municipal Water District in 1990, and it serves as the principal pump station in that area.

The pump station was upgraded as part of the district’s capital improvement plan. Without an emergency generator, water supply to the area could be cut off during a power outage. If that occurs during a wildfire, it could reduce flows for firefighters when they need it most to protect the community.