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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

 

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

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.