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Imagine A Day Without Water

San Diego County residents joined Americans across the country marking Thursday, October 21 as “Imagine A Day Without Water.” The nationwide awareness campaign offered opportunities to learn about our nation’s water systems and the hard work that goes into ensuring a day without water doesn’t become a reality for their community. The Vallecitos Water District partnered with the City of San Marcos to promote water conservation with a new video.

Day Without Water-San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones hosts a new awareness campaign video to remind residents about the importance of water conservation. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Imagine a Day Without Water

San Diego County residents joined Americans across the country marking Thursday, October 21 as “Imagine A Day Without Water.” The nationwide awareness campaign offered opportunities to learn about our nation’s water systems and the hard work that goes into ensuring a day without water doesn’t become a reality for their community.

The day-long event is sponsored by the U.S. Water Alliance, the only national nonprofit organization with a diverse membership base representing the range of water champions, including water utilities, public officials, the business community, environmental organizations, community leaders, policy organizations, and researchers.

Imagine a Day Without Water

The Vallecitos Water District partnered with the City of San Marcos to promote Thursday’s awareness efforts among its residents. San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones starred in a video produced by VWD to highlight its water infrastructure investments. In the video, Mayor Jones encourages residents to conserve water. The San Marcos City Council officially proclaimed October 21, 2021 as “Imagine a Day Without Water.”

Awareness campaign follows drought emergency

California Governor Gavin Newsom extended the state’s drought emergency on October 19, appealing to all Californians to do more to conserve water in the face of one of the state’s most severe droughts on record. The declaration added eight remaining counties, including San Diego County, not under the original declaration made in July.

In the United States, aging infrastructure, intensified weather events, and a lack of investment have kept more than two million residents from accessing safe and reliable water and wastewater services. Member agencies, including the Vallecitos Water District along with the San Diego County Water Authority, continue to develop and maintain safe, reliable water supplies and critical infrastructure through strategic planning, long-term investments, and state-of-the-art technologies.

(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.)

Members of the Rasmusssen family (L to R) Ed, Eric, and Howard Rasmussen. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

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.

In many professions, exposure to career choices at the dinner table has a statistically significant influence. For more than four decades, the University of Chicago has tracked family and career trends in its General Social Survey. The survey found that younger generations often pursue careers due to early exposure to career paths, how they value certain skills, and even inherited aptitudes for building things or language.

Rasmussens share sense of pride

The Rasmussen family represents a collective 35 years of employment at the Sweetwater Authority. Photo: San Diego County Water AuthorityThe Rasmussen family represents a collective 35 years of employment at the Sweetwater Authority. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The Rasmussen family – (L to R) Eric, Craig, and Howard – represents a collective 35 years of employment at the Sweetwater Authority. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Three members of the Rasmussen family are currently employed at the Sweetwater Authority.

Howard Rasmussen started 24 years ago after several attempts to land an entry-level job. He was working in construction and looking for a change.

“They’re really great jobs,” said Rasmussen, who is now a Maintenance Lead Worker helping maintain multiple facilities. “It’s quite amazing and pretty gratifying knowing I’m contributing to my community.”

Seven years ago, son Eric Rasmussen followed his father into the profession after working for a decade at a home improvement retailer and pursuing an electrical apprenticeship. His water career started as a Utility Worker, and four years ago he was promoted to Equipment Operator.

“I really do love operating,” said Eric Rasmussen. “To tag along with what my dad said, it’s so awesome. You have a sense of pride. You want to make everything so perfect when it’s in your district. You don’t want to take any shortcuts.”

Eric’s brother Craig became the third Rasmussen to work at Sweetwater Authority after earning a college degree at San Diego State University. He works as a Watershed Caretaker.

Craig Rasmussen said he applied multiple times over five years before he was hired.

“It’s not like I was a shoe-in,” said Craig. “It gave me time to do some schooling. You just don’t want to let the family name down.”

Craig and Eric’s father is proud of his sons and co-workers.

“To have two boys work for the same company, for me it’s been a blessing,” said Howard Rasmussen. “Being here with my kids I hear how they work; I hear about their attitudes. I get complimented all the time what a great job I’ve done with my kids. Not many people experience that firsthand.”

All three Rasmussens encourage others to consider water industry careers.

“My dad taught me, this is your opportunity, you have to take it,” said Eric Rasmussen.

North County legacy spans three generations

Ed Pedrazzi (far right) in 1996 with brother Jon Sherwood (second from right) and Vallecitos Water District employees Joe Lomeli and Rocky Eltzroth. Photo: Courtesy Ed Pedrazzi family ties

Ed Pedrazzi (far right) in 1996 with brother-in-law Jon Sherwood (second from right) and Vallecitos Water District employees Joe Lomeli and Rocky Eltzroth. Photo: Courtesy Ed Pedrazzi

Family ties span three generations at four different water agencies in North San Diego County.

Ed Pedrazzi works at the Vallecitos Water District as Operations and Maintenance Manager. His niece, Jessica Sherwood, is a Water Resources Assistant at the Vista Irrigation District. Jessica’s father Jon Sherwood was a Water Operation Supervisor for the Vallecitos Water District. Grandfather Amos Sherwood worked at the San Dieguito Water District from 1960 to 1990, and her uncle Terry worked at the Olivenhain Municipal Water District.

Ed Pedrazzi was hired to work in the Construction Department at Vallecitos in 1989. After completing courses at Palomar College, he became certified in Water Distribution and Treatment. Until his recent retirement from teaching, Pedrazzi taught modern water technology courses at Palomar to a new generation of professionals.

Vista Irrigation District Water Resources Office Assistant Jessica Sherwood is a third-generation water industry professional. Photo: Courtesy Jessica Sherwood family ties

Vista Irrigation District Water Resources Office Assistant Jessica Sherwood is a third-generation water industry professional. Photo: Courtesy Jessica Sherwood

Jessica Sherwood saw an opening at the Vista Irrigation District in 2012 for a meter reader and jumped at the chance, working her way up to her current position. She said her entire family has been a positive influence on her water industry career.

“My dad is a very open and honest person and sometimes it’s hard to follow in his footsteps, but I know he’s proud of me,” said Sherwood. “My Uncle Terry is a quiet and modest man but had the same outlook as my dad.

“I think my dad and uncle’s strong work ethics stem from my grandpa. Everything they taught me comes from him. He had both working for him at San Dieguito Water District during the summers when they were still in high school. I just have to say, that I’m very proud of these guys and it’s a pretty cool legacy to be a part of.”

Because they are at different agencies, Pedrazzi and Sherwood don’t cross paths during their work hours, but they sometimes see each other at training meetings.

“He’s only a city away or a phone call,” said Sherwood.

Study shows families influence career choices

Amos Sherwood worked for the San Dieguito Water District from 1960 – 1990 and rose to become superintendent there. Photo: Courtesy Jessica Sherwood

Amos Sherwood worked for the San Dieguito Water District from 1960 – 1990 and rose to become superintendent there. Photo: Courtesy Jessica Sherwood

Eric Rasmussen said family ties help, but family lessons learned and applied make the difference.

“With my dad leading the way, you can do nothing but give thanks to him and my mom for what we’ve been blessed with, and the ethics we possess,” said Eric.

Father Howard adds, “You may not think your kids are listening, but they do.”

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

Winning Waterwise Landscapes in the Vallecitos Water District

San Diego County residents continue to embrace a conservation ethic by creating beautiful, waterwise landscapes. The Vallecitos Water District reports that more District water customers are reducing their outdoor water use and adopting WaterSmart practices.

Three Vallecitos customers are the most recent examples of the landscape makeover trend, creating beautiful landscapes, and winning the regional Watersmart Landscape Contest.

Hausmanns-Vallecitos Water District-landscape makeover-waterwise-WaterSmart

Winning Waterwise Landscapes in the Vallecitos Water District

San Diego County residents continue to embrace a conservation ethic by creating beautiful, waterwise landscapes. The Vallecitos Water District reports that more District water customers are reducing their outdoor water use and adopting WaterSmart practices.

Three Vallecitos customers are the most recent examples of the landscape makeover trend, creating beautiful landscapes, and winning the regional Watersmart Landscape Contest.

Neighbors often ask the Hausmanns about their new landscaping. Doug Hausmann often shares plants and lends a hand on their projects. Photo: Vallecitos Water District winning

Neighbors often ask the Hausmanns about their new landscaping. Doug Hausmann often shares plants and lends a hand on their projects. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Best in District winners Doug and Pam Hausmann have lived in San Diego County since 1975.  They both became interested in succulents and decided to remove their sprinkler system. They now water by hand. Some of their plants get by with as little as four waterings a year.

By propagating and selling succulents, the Hausmanns raise about $1,000 a year on behalf of a nonprofit supporting a friend’s grandson affected by a rare disease. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The Hausmanns started growing different plants from cuttings provided by neighbors, and from plants they purchased and then divided. Their success with propagation generated interest in low water use gardening among their friends and neighbors. The couple donated their propagated plants and expertise, helping neighbors to plant waterwise succulent gardens at their own homes.

Waterwise landscape as philanthropic enterprise

The Hausmanns propagation talent helped raise money for “24 Hours for Hank,” which supports research in Cystinosis, a rare genetic disease. Cystinosis affects 500 people in the United States. Because the disease only affects a small percentage of the population, research money is scarce. By propagating and selling succulents, the Hausmanns raise about $1,000 a year for the charity on behalf of a friend’s grandson affected by Cystinosis.

The Hausmanns were selected as contest winners for their successful landscape project, for the philanthropy it generated, and for the teaching opportunity it inspired.

Saving water, saving wildlife

 

All three winning landscape designs provide habitat for pollinators and birds. Photo: Vallecitos Water District winning

All three winning landscape designs provide habitat for pollinators and birds. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Tours of residential native landscapes and a visit to the Vallecitos Water District Sustainable Demonstration Garden inspired second place winner Bruce Ferguson to follow through on his desire to transform his yard into a more natural and native setting, attractive to wildlife.

Ferguson loves to see lizards, birds, and butterflies. His garden design reduces stormwater runoff and allows for more infiltration of rainwater into the ground by including two small bioswales. He added two small ponds to provide a water source for animals. After the makeover, Ferguson’s water savings range from 20% to 40% monthly.

Bruce Ferguson completed all the work himself on his landscape makeover. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Third place winner Ellen Kaplan replaced her lawn with a drought-tolerant garden to conserve water, eliminate expensive monthly landscaping, and to give her home more curb appeal.

She used a variety of palms, annuals, kangaroo paws, and succulents. She replaced the existing sprinkler system (which she admitted did a better job of watering her driveway) with a drip system providing targeted watering only where needed.

Ellen Kaplan enjoys watching hummingbirds visiting her new landscaping - and so does her cat from safely inside the house. Photo: Vallecitos Water District winning

Ellen Kaplan enjoys watching hummingbirds visiting her new landscaping. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

All three winners received a gift certificate to Green Thumb Nursery in San Marcos to support their waterwise gardening adventures and a Watersmart Landscape Contest Winner sign for their front yards.

(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.)

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.

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.)

Vallecitos Water District Taps Tech for Pipeline Inspection

The Vallecitos Water District is using a specialized camera and sonar to evaluate the condition of a sewer pipeline between San Marcos and Carlsbad.

The Land Outfall West pipeline is a large sewer line that stretches from El Camino Real to the Encina Water Pollution Control Facility in Carlsbad. Originally installed in 1986, an evaluation of the pipeline’s current condition using closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras and sonar will help the District identify and prioritize its ongoing pipeline renewal and maintenance activities.

Working with Hoch Consulting, the Vallecitos Water District inspection project will take place through June. Photo: Vallecitos Water Distict

Vallecitos Water District Taps Tech for Pipeline Inspection

The Vallecitos Water District is using a specialized camera and sonar to evaluate the condition of a sewer pipeline between San Marcos and Carlsbad.

The Land Outfall West pipeline is a large sewer line that stretches from El Camino Real to the Encina Water Pollution Control Facility in Carlsbad. Originally installed in 1986, an evaluation of the pipeline’s current condition using closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras and sonar will help the District identify and prioritize its ongoing pipeline renewal and maintenance activities.

Inspections help ensure system reliability

Field teams begin the inspection process, which is taking place at night to minimize disruption. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Field teams begin the inspection process, which is taking place at night to minimize disruption. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The pipeline ranges in size from 24-inches to 54-inches in diameter and is approximately 3.2 miles long. Project Manager Susan Bowman said today’s technology allows the District to perform thorough inspections without digging up streets and disrupting neighborhoods.

“We want to make sure the pipeline is still in good shape,” explained Bowman, who is the District’s asset management supervisor. “We’re going to be taking a look at the inside of the pipe using an advanced CCTV tool. It looks at all of the insides of the pipeline and identifies any flaws or maintenance issues that may need to be addressed.”

Bowman said the District regularly inspects manholes and performs routine inspection activities. Using cameras and sonar will provide more detailed information to help the District plan ongoing maintenance and repair to ensure the pipeline will continue to perform well.

District staff, consulting staff, pipeline inspectors, and environmental inspectors will be onsite during the work. Work started at the east end of the pipeline in Carlsbad, and will follow along Palomar Airport Road under Interstate 5, and end at the Encina Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Cost-effective and less disruptive

Map showing the 3.2 mile stretch of Vallectios Water District pipeline undergoing inspection in June. Photo: Vallecitos Water Diatrict

Map showing the 3.2 mile stretch of Vallecitos Water District pipeline undergoing inspection in June. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

To minimize traffic impacts and to take advantage of lower flow levels, all work is scheduled at night between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and will occur on weekdays through June 18. Bowman said most of the work should have limited impact on businesses and residents in the area, with minor compressor noise and limited street blocking along Palomar Airport Road.

Pipeline inspections tap tech

“We want to be good neighbors,” said Bowman. “But it is critical to ensure a pipeline is performing well, it is safe, and it is able to continue to do its job. It’s a cost-effective way to ensure the District’s assets are performing well. The technologies have really improved in the last 15 to 20 years.”

Previously, the only way to inspect a pipeline was to take it out of service and dig it up.

“If you’re going to dig something up to see what shape it’s in, you might as well be replacing it,” said Bowman. “We are definitely looking at a lot of these different noninvasive type of technologies. It helps the system perform better by reducing unplanned emergencies which are disruptive to all of us.”

(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.)

San Marcos Interceptor Project Ready for Phase 2 Summer Start

The San Marcos Interceptor Replacement Project remains on schedule, with Phases 1 and 1A completed according to the Vallecitos Water District. The project replaces the District’s 1960s era 21-inch diameter sewer interceptor with more than 12,000-feet of 42-inch diameter sewer pipeline between Twin Oaks Valley Road and Pacific Street.