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Student Artists Featured in 2020 ‘Water Is Life’ Calendar

Five talented San Diego County student artists from four elementary schools were among 36 Southern California students whose artwork will appear in the 2020 “Water Is Life” calendar.

The five artists represent regional water agencies including Helix Water District, Otay Water District, Padre Dam MWD, and Sweetwater Authority.

Sweetwater Authority General Manager Gets Raise

The Sweetwater Authority governing board last week approved a 2 percent raise for General Manager Tish Berge.

The raise sets Berge’s annual salary at $231,000, retroactive to July. It marks her second raise since she was hired in June 2017 to manage Sweetwater, which serves 190,000 customers in National City, Bonita and a large portion of Chula Vista.

Board chairman Steve Castaneda said the raise, which matches a 2 percent raise given to employees, represents a cost-of-living adjustment.

Calendar poster contest winner Maya Santana, a fifth grader from Wolf Canyon Elementary School in the Otay Water District, displays her winning artwork. Photo: Otay Water District Water Is Life Calendar

Student Artists Featured in 2020 ‘Water Is Life’ Calendar

Five talented San Diego County student artists from four elementary schools were among 36 Southern California students whose artwork will appear in the 2020 “Water Is Life” calendar.

The five artists represent regional water agencies including Helix Water District, Otay Water District, Padre Dam MWD, and Sweetwater Authority.

Produced by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, The “Water is Life” Student Art Calendar showcases student artwork with imaginative messages of water conservation and water resource stewardship. Students in grades K-6 submit artwork through participating member agencies after winning their local competition.

The five regional winners, their families, and member agency representatives were invited to attend an art exhibit and recognition luncheon at MWD’s Los Angeles office in December.

Winning students from the San Diego region include:

Maya Santana's winning artwork appears in August 2020. Photo: MWD
Maya Santana’s winning artwork appears in August. Photo: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Maya Santana, a fifth grader from Wolf Canyon Elementary School, which is in the Otay Water District’s service area. Her artwork  “Save Don’t Waste” appears in August 2020.
Artwork by Rencel Chiara Charifa is featured in October 2020.  Photo: MWD
Artwork by Rencel Chiara Charifa is featured in October. Photo: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Rencel Chiara Charifa, a fifth grader from Central Elementary School, which is served by the Sweetwater Authority. Her poster “Water Angel” appears in October. 
Valeria Ramirez has her artwork included in November 2020. Photo: MWD
Valeria Ramirez has her artwork included in November. Photo: Metropoltian Water District of Southern California

Valeria Ramirez, a fourth grader from St. John of the Cross Catholic School, within the Helix Water District service area. Her artwork “Take Care of Water, You’ll Have a Better Future” appears in November.

Violet Jacobson and Zoe Miles share the spotlight in December 2020. Photo: MWD
Violet Jacobson and Zoe Miles share the spotlight in December. Photo: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Violet Jacobson, is in the third grade at Hill Creek Elementary School, which is served by the Padre Dam Municipal Water District. Her poster, “Water Is Life: Everything Needs Water” appears in December.

Zoe Miles, a sixth grader at Flying Hills Elementary School, which is served by the Helix Water District. Her entry, “Less Use = More  Water,” also appears in December.  

See the full calendar here.

Calendar contest provides educational opportunity

Original winning artwork was displayed as part of a recognition event on December 11. Photo: Otay Water District
Original winning artwork was displayed as part of a recognition event on December 11. Photo: Otay Water District

The “Water is Life” poster contest is one of many educational opportunities offered to students to demonstrate how water is a precious and essential resource. By creating water-related art, students enhance their understanding of the importance of water.

Chosen among hundreds of entries, the final selection of 36 art pieces is featured in the annual “Water is Life” Student Art Calendar with an annual distribution of 13,000 recipients.

National City Firefighters Get WaterSmart with Sweetwater Authority

The National City Fire Department is learning more about the water system it relies on, thanks to some specialized training for firefighters from Sweetwater Authority staff. Firefighters wanted to learn more about the water distribution system and where the city’s water originates. The department also wanted to review the location of Sweetwater Authority’s treatment facilities, pump stations, and learn about any areas of lower water pressure or dead-end hydrants. The design of water distribution system facilities such as pipes, tanks, and pumps is dictated by fire protection requirements.

Sweetwater Authority’s High School Photo Contest Promotes Creativity, Importance of Water

Chula Vista, CA – Sweetwater Authority (Authority) is now accepting entries for its 2020 High School Photo Contest. The annual contest aims to showcase and celebrate through photography how safe, reliable water service supports everything we do.

Inaugural Sweetwater Authority Citizens Advisory Committee Appointees Announced

Chula Vista, Calif. – At the October 9 Sweetwater Authority Governing Board meeting, the Authority’s first Citizens Advisory Committee appointees were formally announced. The announcement included a ceremonial oath and reception.

Chula Vista fifth graders enjoy their first visit to the new Hydro Station educational facility. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

New Educational Hydro Station Project Opens in Chula Vista

The first Hydro Station in California opened August 15 in Chula Vista.

The interactive educational space is a joint partnership between the Sweetwater Authority, Otay Water District, and the Chula Vista Elementary School District.

The Hydro Station, at the Richard A. Reynolds Groundwater Desalination Facility, features learning exhibits and hands-on activities to introduce fifth grade students to the ecological cycle of water, water conservation, water quality, and careers in the water industry.

More than 4,000 students are expected to visit the Hydro Station annually.

Making the world ‘a better place’

“The Hydro Station introduces our students to the world of work in the water industry and inspires them at an early age to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics,” said CVESD Superintendent Dr. Francisco Escobedo. “With this station, we expose students to careers that can change the trajectory of entire families, opening the door to high-wage careers that our students might not have thought were possible.

“The students also explore ways to make the world a better place through clean water, and water conservation,” added Escobedo.

Students drink in details about water conservation at the opening of the Hydro Station in Chula Vista. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Students drink in details about water conservation at the opening of the Hydro Station in Chula Vista. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

New generation encouraged to consider careers as water industry professionals

More than 2,800 people work in the water and wastewater sector at the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies. One-third of these industry professionals will be eligible for retirement in the next few years.

“It’s an opportunity for a new generation to join us in our mission to deliver safe and reliable water to hundreds and thousands of people in communities that rely on us as water professionals,” said Tish Berge, Sweetwater Authority general manager.

As part of the Hydro Station experience, students will have three dedicated days focused on career opportunities in Information and Communication Technologies, Clean Energy, and the Blue Economy. They will learn how their strengths, interests, and values may align with career options. Hands-on activities will also help them make connections to specific careers.

Hydro Station mission is about education and conservation

“I have served many years in the water industry, which has allowed me to experience the evolving industry climate firsthand,” said Mark Watton, Otay Water District general manager. “The high level of retirements, new technologies, and increased demand for safe drinking water all contribute to the availability of good, stable careers and employment.”

“We want to make sure that a rewarding career in the water and wastewater industry is within reach for as many local students as possible who are vocational or college bound, and the Hydro Station helps us do that,” he added.

Visitors to the new Hydro Station's grand opening mark the occasion with a selfie. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Visitors to the new Hydro Station’s grand opening mark the occasion with a selfie. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

The Hydro Station’s location is ideal to educate students on how their strengths, interests, and values can connect with careers in the water industry while presenting opportunities to solve real-world problems through the Engineering Design Process. It will also serve to educate children and their families, as well as the community, on the thoughtful use of water resources.

Leaky indoor faucet - Shutterstock

Helix Water District, Sweetwater Authority Offer Smart Leak Detector Rebates

The Helix Water District has rolled out a new smart leak detector rebate program. Helix and Sweetwater Authority customers can get a rebate of up to $100 when they purchase a smart leak detector.

The detectors sync to smartphones, allowing customers to monitor water use 24/7 via smartphone and the devices notify customers of leaks and water consumption amounts.

Smart Leak Detectors

There are two types of smart leak detectors: plumbed devices and external devices, according to Helix.

  • Plumbed Devices
    Plumbed devices are plumbed into your existing water lines. Most of these devices can automatically shut the water off at their point of installation, or allow you to shut your water off remotely, in case of a leak. Since these devices tap into your existing plumbing system, a licensed plumber and permit may be required for installation. Plumbed devices are typically more expensive than external devices.
  • External Devices
    External devices attach to the outside of your water meter, typically with some type of strap, making them simple to install. Since external devices are not directly attached to your plumbing system, they do not have the ability to automatically shut off your water, or allow you to shut off your water remotely, if a leak occurs. External devices are typically less expensive than plumbed devices.

Measure All of Your Water Use

To monitor indoor and outdoor water use, install the leak detector before the point where your irrigation line branches off. This way, the device can alert you of faulty irrigation programming, broken sprinklers or outdoor leaks. This is important, because outdoor use is about half of a typical home’s total water use.

To monitor indoor water use only, install a smart leak detector on your water service line after the point where your main irrigation line branches off.

Install Smart Water Leak Detector

How to install smart water leak detectors to monitor water use or leaks. Graphic: Helix Water District/Sweetwater Authority

Rebates are first come, first served

Rebates are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are not guaranteed. To be eligible for this rebate pilot program you must be a customer of either Helix Water District or Sweetwater Authority and purchase a qualifying device on or after August 1, 2019.

Questions? Customers of Helix Water District can contact Helix staff at 619-667-6226 or ; customers of Sweetwater Authority can contact Sweetwater staff at 619-409-6779 or .

Water Agencies Inaugurate California’s First Hydro Station

Chula Vista, Calif. – The Sweetwater Authority, the Chula Vista Elementary School
District, and the Otay Water District are pleased to announce the opening of the
first Hydro Station in California on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, at the Richard A. Reynolds
Groundwater Desalination Facility (3066 North Second Avenue, Chula Vista, CA 91910).

Sweetwater Authority Utility Worker II Julio Salazar's innovative new tool won recognition from the Association of California Water Agencies. Photo: Sweetwater Authority Sweetwater Authority employee

Award-Winning, Time-Saving Tool Created by Sweetwater Authority Employee

For his initiative in designing and creating a new tool designed to improve safety and efficiency on the job, Sweetwater Authority employee Julio Salazar won the Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority  H.R. LaBounty Safety Award.

The award recognized Salazar for creating a ‘Large AMS Stabilizing Tool.’ Salazar’s design resulted in making the process of replacing 1.5 inch and two inch angle meter stops, or AMS, easier, more ergonomic, and safer.

“Our water professionals are industry leaders, finding new ways to work smarter and safer,” said Tish Berge, general manager. “Sweetwater Authority could not be more proud of Julio’s tool and much deserved recognition.”

The H.R. LaBounty Safety Award recognizes water industry employees who implement significant safety improvements to prevent occupational injuries/illness. Winners are recognized twice a year.

See a demonstration of the new award-winning tool.

Salazar, a Utility Worker II with Sweetwater, came up with the idea after talking with co-workers about ways to improve the process. In the past, replacing an AMS often required employees to break out the meter box in order to make enough space to fit large wrenches and tools.

The process was often awkward and difficult, adding strain on the employee who had to remove the AMS at an odd angle. The concrete panel would also need to be replaced, adding to the time, cost, and safety risk associated with the replacement.

The new tool is designed to secure the AMS using meter bolts, and can be placed in-line with the service lateral. Once secured, an employee can simply use an adjustable wrench to loosen or tighten the bottom nut on the AMS. It eliminates the need to break the meter box, and gives the employee a more comfortable, ergonomic grip while working. It also makes the process safer.

Salazar says the design is similar to existing stabilizing tools, but there was nothing quite the right size for the 1.5 inch and 2 inch AMS – until now.

Water industry professionals recognized for safety improvements

Sweetwater Authority Utility Worker II Julio Salazar displays his H.R. LaBounty Safety Award Sweetwater Authority employeerecognition certificate from the Association of California Water Agencies. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Sweetwater Authority Utility Worker II Julio Salazar displays his H.R. LaBounty Safety Award recognition certificate from the Association of California Water Agencies. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

The Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority – ACWA JPIA for short – is a partnership of water agencies dedicated to avoiding the high cost of commercial insurance. JPIA is a risk-sharing pool for property, liability, workers’ compensation and employee benefits, which allows for more rate stability for customers, broader coverage and expanded benefits and services than private insurance.

READ MORE: Proactive Partnerships Keep Pipelines In Top Shape