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tate legislators, water industry leaders, veteran advocates and business and community organizations gathered at the Veterans Museum in Balboa Park Oct. 16 to celebrate Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of AB 1588.

New California Law Creates Path to Water Industry Jobs for Vets

State legislation co-sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority and the Otay Water District has been signed into law, making it possible for veterans to receive credit for their military education and experience when applying for civilian water and wastewater system operator certifications in California.

State legislators, water industry leaders, veteran advocates and business and community organizations gathered at the Veterans Museum in Balboa Park today to celebrate Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of Assembly Bill 1588.

The bill was introduced in the state legislature by Assemblymembers Todd Gloria (San Diego) and Adam Gray (Merced), and co-authored by several state legislators, including Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath (Oceanside).

The Water Authority and the Otay Water District co-sponsored the bill to increase the number of military veterans entering the civilian water and wastewater industry at a time when many Baby Boomers are retiring.

‘Silver Tsunami’ of retirements in water industry

“The new law helps our communities two ways – by lowering employment barriers for our veterans and sustaining our vital water and wastewater services for the next generation,” said Water Authority Board Secretary Christy Guerin. “This was a victory for San Diego and the whole state – a successful, bipartisan effort that will help maintain our economy and quality of life.”

The Water Authority and its 24 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 – and more than 1,400 of those workers are expected to reach retirement age by 2024. Statewide, there are approximately 6,000 active certified wastewater treatment plant operators and approximately 35,000 drinking water treatment and distribution operators.

Several states help veterans navigate the civilian water system operator certification process and allow veterans to apply equivalency standards to credit military experiences toward state or industry certifications in water and wastewater treatment and distribution. However, no similar approach existed in California.

AB 1588 Creates Path For Water Industry Jobs For Military Veterans

State legislation introduced by San Diego Assemblymember Todd Gloria (far right) and Merced Assemblymember Adam Gray creates a path to water and wastewater industry jobs for military veterans. AB 1588, signed into law by Gov. Newsom, was co-sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority and the Otay Water District. (L-to-R in photo: Mark Balmert, Executive Director, SDMAC, Jose Martinez, Assistant Chief Water Operations, Otay Water District, Christy Guerin, Board Secretary, San Diego County Water Authority, and Assemblymember Gloria). Photo: Water Authority

Creating bridges to water industry jobs

“What we are missing, and what this bill addresses, is a pathway in which we honor the experience of our veterans and allow that experience to qualify them for a career path in our civilian water systems,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria. “Thanks to Governor Newsom, that pathway now exists. California will now properly credit the service of our veterans and enable them to secure good-paying jobs here in our water system. In this time – when the importance of clean water and good paying jobs is undeniable – let’s create bridges not barriers.”

AB 1588 provides a pathway for military veterans to apply their advanced skills and experience toward state and industry-supplied certifications in the water and wastewater treatment and distribution operator fields. Additionally, it ensures that advanced water treatment operators and distribution system operators of potable reuse and recycled water facilities have a career advancement path as certified water and/or wastewater treatment plant operators.

“San Diego County is home to more than 240,000 veterans with skills that benefit our region in numerous ways,” said Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath of Encinitas, a co-author of the bill. “With this legislation, we are building stronger communities that can remain home to servicemembers after they take off the uniform and transition into civilian life.”

Veterans continue public service in water industry

Assistant Chief of Water Operations at the Otay Water District Jose Martinez is a veteran who initiated the idea of the bill and has thrived in the civilian water industry. “As someone who had the pleasure to serve alongside the members of the military responsible for the safe and reliable operation of water and wastewater systems, I observed firsthand their education, experience and dedication,” he said.

“Now, as a water manager responsible for providing safe and reliable water and wastewater services to the public, I championed this bill to provide a path for veterans to receive the certification credit they have earned after years of service. This will ensure that the water sector continues to recruit from the biggest and best talent pools to provide the highest level of service to everyone.”

Governor Signs Two Bills Crucial for San Diego’s Transit and Water Plans

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed two bills that are critical to San Diego’s plans for improved mass transit and water recycling for long-term drought protection. On Friday night the governor signed Assemblyman Todd Gloria’s Assembly Bill 1413, which will support local referendums on transit funding, and Assembly Bill 1290 by Gloria and Sen. Toni Atkins that clears the way for the pioneering Pure Water project.

Activists Rally For Solutions to Tijuana Sewage Problem

Activists pushed for action at a rally Saturday morning addressing the toxic flow of sewage from Tijuana into Southern California beaches.

Sewage flowing into the Tijuana River has been responsible for closing beaches an average of 300 days a year. Environmental organization “Stop the Poop” wants to see permanent solutions.

“This is environmental and biological terrorism on the people of the United States of America,” said Stop the Poop Founder Baron Partlow.

Protecting California’s Clean Waters

Water is life. It is essential to the survival of all living things and has been at the center of my work for over three decades as a public servant. I did not select this cause arbitrarily, but because our communities were suffering, and no one was speaking out about safe, clean water supplies for residents of the San Gabriel Valley and greater east Los Angeles County.

The Next Big California vs. Trump Fight is Over Water and Endangered Species

Just how far will Gov. Gavin Newsom go in his high-profile fight with the Trump administration over environmental protections?

The next few months will provide an answer, as Newsom is forced to take a stand on Trump rollbacks in a long-contested battleground — the Northern California delta that helps supply more than half the state’s population with drinking water and fills irrigation canals on millions of acres of farmland.

Bill to Blunt Trump Environment Policy Vetoed in California

Engaged in environmental battles with the Trump administration on multiple fronts, California Gov. Gavin Newsom angered some allies on Friday by vetoing a bill aimed at blunting federal rollbacks of clean air and endangered species regulations in the state.

The bill would have made it easier for state regulators to counter the Trump administration’s efforts to change enforcement of the federal Endangered Species Act and other environmental pillars — at least in California.

EPA to California: You’re Also ‘Failing’ to Meet Water Pollution Standards

The Trump administration warned California officials Thursday that the state is “failing” to meet federal water quality standards, the latest move in the president’s escalating political feud with the state’s liberal leaders.

In a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler threatened possible enforcement action if the state did not improve the way it deals with lead, arsenic and human waste in its water.

Newsom Will Announce New Plans For A Satellite To Track Climate Change

Former Gov. Jerry Brown famously said last year that California would launch its “own damn satellite” to track climate change in defiance of the Trump administration. On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom will announce a new approach and way to pay for it.

Water Policy Priorities For A Changing California

How will climate change affect California water management, and what steps should the state take to prepare for these changes? The PPIC Water Policy Center was asked by the Newsom administration to submit formal comments outlining key water policy priorities for the state—and ways to integrate actions across state agencies to implement these priorities. Our recommendations will inform the administration’s preparation of a water resilience portfolio. We address two key areas where the state can play a leading role—modernizing the water grid and protecting freshwater ecosystems.

OPINION: Best Way To Improve California’s Water Situation is Newsom Plan, Not Senate Bill 1

Creating a sustainable water future for all Californians is one of the defining challenges of our time. As members of Congress from California, we have been at the center of efforts to solve the difficult problems of providing reliable water supplies for California’s people, its economy, and our environment. There is no silver bullet to that will solve these problems, but what we know is this: all parties must be at the table; the legislative process must be transparent; the goals must be clear and achievable.