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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.

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.)

North County Students Make Splash in Water District Contests

Local students floated lots of good ideas in the 30th annual Water Awareness Poster Contest, sponsored by North County’s water agencies. This year’s theme was “Love Water, Save Water.”

The contest for fourth-graders aims to increase understanding and appreciation for conserving water and using it more efficiently. Students showed ways they love water, how they save water at home, or ways to save or recycle water in the future to help the Earth. Winning students artwork is printed in the 2022 North County Water Agency Calendar. Free copies are available at local water district offices, usually by mid-November.

Vista Irrigation District Honored for Governance and Transparency

The Vista Irrigation District has received two major statewide honors, the District of Distinction Platinum Recognition award and the Transparency Certificate of Excellence.

The District of Distinction recognition is awarded by the Special District Leadership Foundation to special districts that show their commitment to good governance, transparency, prudent fiscal policies and sound operating practices.

Vista Irrigation District Logo

Vista Irrigation District Honored for Governance and Transparency

The Vista Irrigation District has received two major statewide honors, the District of Distinction Platinum Recognition award and the Transparency Certificate of Excellence.

The District of Distinction recognition awarded by the Special District Leadership Foundation to special districts that show their commitment to good governance, transparency, prudent fiscal policies and sound operating practices. The district originally obtained its accreditation in 2009 and just received its most recent reaccreditation.

Vista Irrigation District-governance-tranparency-statewide awards

Vista Irrigation District Honored for Governance and Transparency

The Vista Irrigation District has received two major statewide honors, the District of Distinction Platinum Recognition award and the Transparency Certificate of Excellence.

The District of Distinction recognition is awarded by the Special District Leadership Foundation to special districts that show their commitment to good governance, transparency, prudent fiscal policies and sound operating practices. The district originally obtained its accreditation in 2009 and just received its most recent reaccreditation.

District of Distinction – governance and transparency

Platinum recognition is the highest level of recognition for a district and requires completion of all Special District Leadership Foundation programs demonstrating a comprehensive approach to excellence in district administration and government; the district is one of only ten special districts statewide to obtain District of Distinction Platinum recognition.

Transparency Certificate of Excellence

In addition to the District of Distinction award, the district received the Transparency Certificate of Excellence in recognition of its efforts to promote transparency in operations and governance to the public; 145 special districts in the state have received this certificate.

There are over 2,000 independent special districts in the state of California that provide essential services such as water, sewer, fire protection, and parks and recreation.

Both the District of Distinction and Transparency Certificate of Excellence awards require the district to meet numerous criteria, including training elected officials and staff, adopting financial, public information and conflict of interest policies, properly conducting and communicating open and public meetings, performing outreach efforts to constituents, and meeting twenty different website requirements.

The awards were presented at the recent California Special District Association annual conference.

The Special District Leadership Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization formed to promote good governance and best practices among California special districts through certification, accreditation and other recognition programs.

Vista Irrigation District is a public agency governed by an elected five-member board. The district provides water service to roughly 135,000 people in the city of Vista, and portions of San Marcos, Escondido, Oceanside, and unincorporated areas of San Diego County.

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

Trio of Waterwise Landscapes Win Vista 2021 Contest

Three homeowners in the Vista Irrigation District won recognition recently from the VID board of directors in its 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest.

The annual contest recognizes outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on overall attractiveness, appropriate plant selection, design, appropriate maintenance, and efficient irrigation methods.

Lauren Grey's new landscaping filled with vibrant blooming plants is the 2021 Vista Irrigation District Landscape Makeover Contest winner. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

Trio of Waterwise Landscapes Win Vista 2021 Contest

Three homeowners in the Vista Irrigation District won recognition recently from the VID board of directors in its 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest.

The annual contest recognizes outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on overall attractiveness, appropriate plant selection, design, appropriate maintenance, and efficient irrigation methods.

Lauren Grey's landscaping before its winning makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

Lauren Grey’s landscaping before its winning makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Winning plan solves erosion problem with beautiful blooms

The “Best in District” award went to Lauren Grey. What started as a project to halt the rush of soil down a steep front slope turned into a multi-hued garden with a view from the top. Grey renovated her front slope and landscape by installing retaining walls surrounded by beds of colorful blooms. She lined the staircase zigzagging through the hillside with a variety of potted succulents. Bright orange poppies, lush green jade, silvery Ghost Plants, and Purple Heart Tradescantia dot the slope.

Lauren Grey’s landscaping solved her problems with a troublesome slope. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

The winning result is an explosion of color. “What fun to have a beautiful garden and a sweet place to sit and contemplate it all!” said Grey.

“With rebates available for turf removal, now is a great time to replace your lawn with a beautiful WaterSmart landscape,” said Brent Reyes, VID water conservation specialist.

Drought-tolerant results receive recognition

Homeowners Deborah Brandt and Dorothy Wagemester received honorable mentions for their outstanding projects.

The "before" look at the Wagemester landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

The “before” look at the Wagemester landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

The Wagemesters wanted to conserve water and create an inviting natural haven on their property. A meandering hardscape pathway lined with a vibrant palette of drought-tolerant choices, including bougainvillea, trailing buttercups, sea lavender, and Cape plumbago replaced turf with a native garden.

The Wagemester home's attractive new waterwise landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

The Wagemester home’s attractive new waterwise landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Magenta blooms of an Eastern Redbud tree pop against foxtail agaves and Kaleidoscope Abelia.

“While spring is our favorite season, we now have color all year long,” said Dorothy Wagemester.

Deborah Brandt's landscaping before its makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

Deborah Brandt’s landscaping before its makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Brandt wanted to transform her plain backyard into a magical place. She started with river rock and added cactus and succulents in multiple shapes and sizes. Over time, she mixed in yard art and chimes, creating charming surprises. Brandt installed drip irrigation and two rain barrel water collection systems to reduce her water use.

The Brandt home with its new drought-tolerant landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

The Brandt home with its new drought-tolerant landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Brandt “gave away the lawnmower” due to the transformation into a low-maintenance, WaterSmart paradise where flowers bloom year-round.

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

Vista Irrigation District Logo

Vista Irrigation District Announces WaterSmart Landscape Contest Winners

Vista, Calif. — The Vista Irrigation District board of directors recognized customers for their entries in the district’s WaterSmart Landscape Contest. The annual contest recognizes outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on the criteria of overall attractiveness, appropriate plant selection, design, appropriate maintenance, and efficient methods of irrigation.

Vista Irrigation District Logo

Vista Irrigation District Adopts 2020 Urban Water Management Plan and Amended Water Supply Response Plan

Vista, Calif. — Vista Irrigation District Board of Directors adopted its 2020 Urban Water Management Plan (2020 UWMP) and amended its Water Supply Response Plan (WSRP). The 2020 UWMP details the district’s long-term planning efforts to ensure sufficient water supplies to meet existing and future water needs of its customers. The WSRP specifies water use efficiency and water conservation measures to be implemented during water shortage conditions resulting from drought and other emergencies.