Rains Helped, But Drought is Part of ‘New Normal’

Far from being rescued from drought by recent storms, the state needs to prepare for a “new normal” of restricted water supplies, California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said Tuesday, Oct. 26.

To do that, Crowfoot said California must accelerate conservation efforts to deal with current drought conditions and continue to build on long-term water-management strategies, such as the $5.2 billion Water and Drought Resilience Package announced in September by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Crowfoot made his case to the executive committee of the Metropolitan Water District, which manages Southern California’s water imports from the Colorado River and Northern California.

Water Utility Hero of the Week-Michelle McMahon-Olivenhain MWD

Water Utility Hero of the Week: Michelle McMahon, Olivenhain MWD

Editor’s Note: This feature highlights water utility employees in the San Diego region working during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure a safe, reliable and plentiful water supply. The water industry is among the sectors that are classified as essential. Michelle McMahon, Olivenhain Municipal Water District IT Coordinator, is the Water Utility Hero of the Week.

Water Utility Hero of the Week: Michelle McMahon

Job/Agency: Olivenhain Municipal Water District IT Coordinator

How did you become interested in working in the water industry?

I worked long hours in a previous career, feeling unappreciated, and heard that OMWD was a great place to work. Best professional change I ever made! I feel that my work has a positive impact within OMWD. What I do matters to the people I support and the ratepayers we serve. It has been good for my work/life balance.

How has your job changed during the pandemic?

Things got crazier. Then it calmed down as it settled into the new normal. Equipment became difficult to purchase. Deliveries, especially those coming from China (computers and their components), took what felt like a lifetime. Purchasing, programming, deploying equipment, and training end-users were a priority. Everything was (and still is) sanitized repeatedly. Remote support has become prominent, even for users located on-site. End users are more understanding of what it takes to make their computers, cell phones, tablets, and desk phones working properly.

How are you keeping safe?

I have acquired a collection of nearly 100 personal masks and a dozen OMWD masks! I have hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes easily accessible. OMWD has placed these items throughout for everyone’s use. I try to help people remotely from my computer whenever possible. I disinfect my workspace each day and other workstations with every support call.

What are you most looking forward to after the crisis ends?

I look forward to the new normal. I am curious what the “new normal” will be. This really is an unprecedented time. I think it will be a hybrid of “before the pandemic” and “during the pandemic” for some time, perhaps years. I look forward to spending time with friends, sharing their joy of finally returning to work, and being free to get my hair or nails done whenever I would like!

The Water Utility Hero of the Week highlights essential work performed during the COVID-19 pandemic by employees of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies.

San Diego County Water Authority Member Agency Map

Adapting to the ‘New Normal’ In a Post-COVID Water Sector

Beyond all the health-related impacts of the coronavirus pandemic — masks, social distancing, work from home scheduling, etc. — there have been some ripple effects to the daily operations and related employment conditions for water-treatment personnel. This synopsis of experiences provides perspective and outlines some opportunities and approaches for water-industry professionals to adopt if they have not already done so as part of the post-COVID ‘new normal’.

Road to Recovery Includes Alternative Design Solutions Resulting in New Ways to Procure and Deliver Services

As the world resets for a long-awaited post-coronavirus existence, new realities for business and life in general are taking shape. Amid a plethora of forecasts on changes involving how and where post-COVID-19 business will be conducted, it is a safe bet that employees and overall public health will be a primary influencer as the evolution to the “next normal” begins.