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Veterans Career Day

Water Industry Wants You: Military Career Day at Cuyamaca College

The Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College and San Diego County water agencies are hosting a free career day August 10 for military veterans looking to transition into the water and wastewater industry. The in-person career day is 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cuyamaca College Student Center, 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in El Cajon.

Registration is online at CenterforWaterStudies.org. The San Diego County Water Authority is co-sponsoring the military career day.

Many water agencies are hiring, and veterans have key skills needed to provide safe, reliable drinking water for San Diego communities.

Retirements spur need for water and wastewater industry workers

The opportunities for both transitioning servicemembers and local water agencies are significant. More than 30,000 service members separate from the military each year in California, and more than half are transitioning out of active duty in the San Diego region. Roughly half of the current water industry workforce in the San Diego region will be eligible to retire in the next 15 years – and approximately 1,400 water and wastewater industry jobs are expected to open in the region in the next five years.

Veterans will have the opportunity to meet water agency recruiters, learn about industry pay and benefits, and receive advice on different career pathways and fast-track educational opportunities offered by the Center for Water Studies, which provides specialized training in water and wastewater operations.

“Warriors2WaterWorks” career day

The “Warriors2WaterWorks” career day will be filled with many opportunities for veterans entering the civilian work world:

  • Water agencies from throughout the San Diego region will be available at information booths with applications that may be filled out on the spot, job lists, and agency information.
  • An equipment demonstration will be on display for attendees to learn more about what kind of equipment and infrastructure they may work with in water jobs.
  • Tours of the Cuyamaca College Veterans Center and Center for Water Studies.
  • Among other speakers, Otay Water District General Manager Jose Martinez, a U.S. Navy veteran, will speak on “How Your Military Service Translates to a Career in the Water Industry” and San Diego County Water Authority Director of Water Resources Kelley Gage will give the lunch time keynote on “100 Years of US Military/Regional WaterWorks Collaboration.”
  • Other sessions include a panel of recently transitioned military personnel in the water industry and a panel of human resources professionals detailing the civilian employment process.
  • A Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) session will be given, to help translate the military career of a veteran to a civilian career with applicable skillsets.
  • Breakout sessions designed for active military and veteran/reservists. Military spouses are encouraged to attend.

Job Opportunities

In October 2020, The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies launched a website – SanDiegoWaterWorks.org – that provides the first comprehensive posting of regional water and wastewater industry job openings in one location. The San Diego Water Works website includes:

  • Current water and wastewater job postings in the San Diego region
  • Training and education resources, career advice and internship programs
  • Featured jobs that highlight rewarding careers in the water industry
  • Information about special training programs and internships for military veterans
  • Tips and resources for transitioning military

Smooth Sailing Into SkillBridge for Navy Veteran Edwin McBride

Edwin McBride decided 20 years in the U.S. Navy wasn’t enough time in the water, so he dove into the SkillBridge Program to intern at the San Diego County Water Authority. The program is helping military veterans transition to career-track training opportunities, including work in the water and wastewater industry.

SkillBridge Interns Explore Career Opportunities After Military Service

The San Diego County Water Authority is providing training opportunities to military veterans looking for new careers in public service as part of the Skillbridge Program. The program is helping military veterans transition to career-track training opportunities, including work in the water and wastewater industry.

Multiple awards-Vallecitos Water District-Dawn McDougle, recently retired supervisor at the Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility, and her successor, Matt Wiese. Photo: Vallecitos Water District multiple industry awards

Vallecitos Water District Wins Multiple Industry Awards

The Vallecitos Water District received three awards from the California Water Environment Association on January 29. The Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility was named the 2021 Tertiary Recycled Water Plant of the Year, Matt Wiese received the “Operator of the Year” award and the District also received the Community Engagement and Outreach award for Best Use of Social Media.

Recycled Water Plant of the Year

The Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility was named the 2021 Tertiary Recycled Water Plant of the Year. This award recognizes accomplishments in compliance, innovative practices, cost-effectiveness, and superior plant performance. It is the first year for this new award.

Vallecitos Water District owns and operates the Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility, or MRF, in the City of Carlsbad. Through secondary and tertiary treatment at Meadowlark, VWD acts as a wholesale supplier of reclaimed water to the City of Carlsbad and the Olivenhain Municipal Water District.

MRF is undertaking multiple projects to increase efficiencies and implement higher recycled water standards for the district’s two major customers. Additional projects include the planned installation of a Tesla Megapack Battery Energy Storage System as part of the district’s energy resiliency grant program.

See video of the 2021 Plant of the Year

Best Use of Social Media

The district won recognition for Community Engagement and Outreach for Best Use of Social Media, promoting awareness and understanding of water quality issues through social media campaigns.

Starting in 2019, VWD began using video to document the district’s workforce and infrastructure improvements on its social media platforms. The “Work We Do” series gives the public an opportunity to see crews providing the community with reliable drinking water and wastewater services, protecting the environment, and developing its skilled workforce.

The District also partnered with the Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College, which uses the “Work We Do” series to educate students on careers in the water and wastewater industry.

“Work We Do”

Matt Wiese Named Operator of the Year

Matt Wiese received the “Operator of the Year” award for outstanding contributions to the operations of wastewater treatment facilities and the application of knowledge to improve plant processes.

As Senior Wastewater Treatment Plant Supervisor at the Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility, Wiese shares a wealth of instrumentation knowledge with Meadowlark staff. He mentors staff on proper procedures to troubleshoot, repair, and perform preventative maintenance on instrumentation, resulting in minimal downtime and emergency repairs.

Wiese also ensures training is up to date and completed, including hazardous materials training and drills in conjunction with North County Regional Fire Department Training.  His role in organizing and conducting the training has won statewide recognition for the Vallecitos Water District.

See more of Matt Wiese’s accomplishments in this video

“This is not the first award for the Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility, and I am sure it will not be the last,” said Ed Pedrazzi, operations and maintenance manager for the Vallecitos Water District. “Outstanding professionals like Matt Wiese are why the treatment plant operates at peak efficiency every day. You will not find a more dedicated group of individuals protecting the environment and the public health than the team at Meadowlark.”

Wiese was recently promoted to the supervisor position at MRF due to the retirement of Dawn McDougle.

“I was happy to promote him to supervisor of the plant. He has earned it!” said Pedrazzi.

There are more than 20 CWEA award categories. Each one honors exceptional CWEA members and California wastewater professionals, facilities, and agencies. The program seeks to recognize outstanding achievements within the wastewater field, improve the professional status of all personnel working in the wastewater industry and related fields and stimulate public awareness of the importance of wastewater treatment to public health and the water environment.

(Editor’s note: The Vallecitos Water District, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, and Carlsbad MWD, are three of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Veterans Serving Public in Water Industry Careers

Water industry professionals and members of the U.S. armed forces have a shared commitment to serving the public. When they leave active-duty roles, military veterans tap their experience and skills to work in water sector jobs. The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies, recognizes the contributions of veterans to the San Diego region’s water industry on Veterans Day and throughout the year.

Dinner Table Lessons Launch Water Industry Careers

Jobs in the water and wastewater industry provide stable employment in meaningful careers, delivering a vital resource families and businesses depend on. With half of all current employees expected to retire in the next 15 years, recruitment efforts hope to fill many of these essential positions.

Family ties provide a positive influence in filling these roles with the next generation of water professionals in several water agencies in San Diego County.

Career-Otay Water District-Faces of the Water Industry

Learn About Water Industry Career Opportunities From the Pros

Looking for a challenging and satisfying career? Current and aspiring professionals can learn about water industry career opportunities through the San Diego County Water Authority’s “Faces of the Water Industry” social media outreach campaign in October. 

The campaign, inspired by ACWA’s California Water Professionals Appreciation Week, highlights the San Diego region’s water and wastewater professionals and the essential work that they do to provide safe and reliable water supplies for 3.3 million people and a $253 billion economy. 

Water Industry Pros Share Their Stories

The Faces of the Water Industry campaign features the stories of 21 water industry professionals through a series of social media posts and videos. Beginning October 1, follow the Water Authority on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to read inspiring stories from the region’s water and wastewater pros.

Eric Amavisca, Water Distribution Technician 

Eric Amavisca, Water Distribution Technician, City of Escondido

“Growing up near the ocean, water always played an influential part in my life,” said Eric Amavisca, Water Distribution Technician at the City of Escondido. “I always knew I wanted to work with water but wasn’t sure how until I was surfing with a close friend one day. He mentioned a nearby community college offered classes focused on water distribution. I decided to take a leap and try it out. The classes were appealing to me. Therefore I began a career in water distribution. Water is one of our most valuable resources, and I’m happy to protect it for the future. I find gratification in protecting the City’s water infrastructure.”

Laura York, Laboratory Analyst 

Laura York, Laboratory Analyst, Otay Water District

“The most rewarding aspect of my job is that it contributes to society. Water is a vital resource that all life depends on for survival,” said Laura York, Laboratory Analyst at Otay Water District. “As a lab analyst, I monitor water quality and protect public health by ensuring the water meets regulatory requirements and is safe for drinking. Working in the industry also provides lifelong learning opportunities as there are continuous challenges and the accompanying need for innovation and improvement.”

Jorge Pena Veloz, Customer Service Representative I (Field) 

Jorge Pena Veloz, Customer Service Representative I (Field), Sweetwater Authority

“I was inspired to work for a water agency because I knew that the work I would be performing on a daily basis would have an immediate impact on our customers and that the service that we provide is vital to everyday life,” said Jorge Pena Veloz, Customer Service Representative I (Field) at Sweetwater Authority. “In addition, I knew that working for the Authority would not only bring me satisfaction but also help me and my family have a bright future.”

Karla Sanchez, Engineering Technician II 

Karla Sanchez, Engineering Technician II, San Diego County Water Authority

“Working in the water industry is very rewarding,” said Karla Sanchez, Engineering Technician II at the San Diego County Water Authority. “In the water industry I have had the opportunity to see and grow so much of San Diego. The people and the innovation that goes into providing water is fulfilling. Building infrastructure to ensure that the people around me can live, work and play is a passion of mine. I take pride knowing that I help provide water to the country. I look forward to continuingly growing in my career in the water industry.”

Upcoming Water Industry Career Webinars

The water and wastewater industry offers vast opportunities for essential careers in engineering, operations, finance, public affairs, human resources, administration and information technology. 

The Water Authority and California Water Environmental Association (CWEA) is hosting free career webinars for new and current water professionals. 

For job openings, internships and education opportunities across the San Diego region’s water and wastewater industry, go to sandiegowaterworks.org.

(Editor’s note: The Otay Water District, Sweetwater Authority, and the City of Escondido, are three of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Vallecitos Water District-water industry careers-veterans-jobs

Vallecitos Employee Encourages Veterans to Work in Water Industry

Vallecitos Water District Senior Pump and Motor Technician Dale Austin is a strong advocate and one-person recruiting program, encouraging military veterans to consider water and wastewater industry careers. As an eighth-generation military veteran with 20 years of service, he successfully transitioned to his current profession and wants to help others do the same.

“Every job in the military can be transferred into a water agency,” said Austin. “I’m a proud veteran. I will support veterans 110% any way I can, any time of the day.

“One of the things I can tell a veteran preparing for a job or seeking a job within this field is be prepared. Prepare yourself. You’re always training for a deployment or another duty assignment. This job is no different.”

Half of all water and wastewater industry employees are expected to retire in the next 15 years. Many of those workers hold essential positions. The value of these essential workers became especially clear due to the pandemic.

Retirement wave creates career opportunities for veterans

In just the next five years, about 1,400 water and wastewater industry jobs are expected to open across the San Diego region. In addition to engineers and plant operators, the industry relies on technicians, accountants, electricians, mechanics, information technology specialists, and many other occupations.

Austin encourages veterans to explore their options through opportunities available for education and training, such as the certificate and degree programs at Cuyamaca College and Palomar College.

“Seek out volunteer programs. Seek out tours. Call a water agency. There are programs there. Take full advantage of those,” said Austin. “Go to job fairs. Read job postings, even if you don’t know what kind of job you may qualify for.”

Water and wastewater industry jobs allow veterans to continue serving their community by providing safe, sanitary water and ensuring public health and safety. Careers are stable with good salaries and benefits. Water and wastewater professionals serve in communities and agencies of all sizes.

“I want to do the best for the ratepayers. I really take pride in that.  I think the military instilled that in me. It’s a team environment here. It’s like a military coalition. I love working with my team. I believe the military helped me achieve that,” said Austin.

Vets receive credit for military experience and education

Skills acquired from military service translate well to water and wastewater industry jobs. Photo: Vallecitos Water District Encourages Veterans

Skills acquired from military service translate well to water and wastewater industry jobs. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

San Diego area veterans can learn about career opportunities at a dedicated web portal for veterans, SanDiegoWaterWorks.org.  New laws in California supported by the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies offer credit for military education and experience when applying for industry jobs.

Austin especially encourages women veterans to consider water industry careers. “I work with great women leaders here [Vallecitos Water District]. Your career choices are endless. You’re focused on doing well. As a veteran, you have a hand up,” said Austin.

Austin said his 11 years working at the Vallecitos Water District feels like working in a military environment in positive ways.

“We take care of each other. Everyone helps everyone else. I love the sense of accomplishment and the sense of satisfaction of doing a job well,” said Austin. “A lot of our jobs are unrecognized by the public. You turn your tap on, you flush your toilet. Everything works. I get a sense of satisfaction with my group knowing we did a job well.”

(Editor’s note: The Vallecitos Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Water and Wastewater Scholarship Opportunities Available at National University

The new Waterworks Management Concentration in the Bachelor of Public Administration, offered by National University in partnership with Cuyamaca College, begins its second cohort of courses in August. Two new scholarship opportunities are now available to help prospective students overcome financial barriers and reach new career goals.