San Diego regional member water agencies and California water associations will offer multiple college scholarship opportunities in 2023 to help candidates secure their education as water and wastewater professionals.
The acceleration of industry retirement and the increasing need for a skilled workforce trained to implement new technologies result in an increased effort to develop more skilled individuals for water and wastewater industry jobs, including in San Diego County.
Scholarships are available for community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and graduate-level programs. The following examples are due in the coming weeks for study in the 2022-2023 academic school year.
San Diego regional water scholarships
The Helix Water District offers two $1,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors living within the district’s service area who will begin their university studies next fall. Applications are due March 10 for the Dr. Lillian M. Childs Scholarship and the Robert D. Friedgen Scholarship, which both help with freshman-year expenses. The scholarship committee reviews each applicant’s grades, extracurricular activities, volunteer and work experience, academic and career goals and financial needs.
High school seniors must graduate in Spring 2023 and attend a four-year college or university next fall. Students submit a two-page essay exploring the case in favor or against developing potable reuse and the East County Advanced Water Purification project. Students can verify their eligibility by calling 619-466-0585. Deadline: March 10, 2023. Application Link.
The Vista Irrigation District offers up to six scholarships between $1,000 and $3,000 to high school students living or attending school within the district. The purpose of the scholarship program is to increase knowledge and awareness of water-related issues impacting their community. Students who compete for a scholarship must complete an essay and provide a personal statement. Selection criteria also include community involvement or volunteer service. Deadline: February 24, 2023. Application Link.
Through the Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges, the Mark Watton Scholarship Fund supports students attending the Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College. It honors Otay Water District General Manager Mark Watton’s four decades of service to the district.
Applicants must be currently enrolled for at least six units at Cuyamaca College, verify financial need, and complete the general application and essay. Scholarships of $1,000 are available. Students can contact scholarship specialist Ernest Williams at 619-660-4537 or email for more information.
Sweetwater Authority “Work for Water”
Sweetwater Authority’s “Work for Water” scholarship program offers two $1,000 scholarships to new or currently enrolled students at the Center for Water Studies or another accredited college, community college, or trade school with a career goal in the water industry. For questions regarding the scholarship, application, or uploading documentation, please email
In 2022, the Sweetwater Authority Governing Board awarded scholarships to David Inchaurregui Jr. of Chula Vista and Kassandra Beltran of National City. Inchaurregui Jr. is currently attending the Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College, pursuing a career as a water treatment plant operator. Beltran is seeking her Master’s Degree at San Diego State University, intending to work in water policy and administration.
Vallecitos Water District Scholarship Contest
The Vallecitos Water District invites local high school seniors and students at both Palomar College and California State University San Marcos to compete for scholarships from the District. Up to six scholarships may be awarded in amounts up to $1,000 per scholarship. The purpose of the scholarship program is to encourage students to learn more about water related issues impacting their community.
Students may download an application package from www.vwd.org, or contact Chris Robbins at (760) 752-7120 or to have the materials sent to them. Deadline: March 31, 2023. Applications must be received via e-mail or at the District office by 5 p.m. Eligible students must live or go to school within the Vallecitos Water District’s service area.
California statewide water scholarships
The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) offers four undergraduate scholarships, one graduation scholarship, and a fellowship opportunity to qualified applicants attending a University of California or California State University campus. Students must be juniors or seniors pursuing an undergraduate degree in a water-resources related field such as engineering, agriculture, environmental studies, or public administration. Criteria include academic achievement and motivation to the vocation of water-resources management.
ACWA began its scholarship programs in 1961 to motivate committed students to join the effort to ensure California’s water quality through sound management policies. The scholarship program is all about investing in future water leaders. Deadline: March 1, 2023. Application Link. For questions, call 916-441-4545 or email .
The California-Nevada section of the American Water Works Association (CA-NV AWWA) awards more than $20,000 in scholarships to support students and professionals pursuing careers in a drinking water related field. Two $5,000 graduate scholarships, four $2,500 undergraduate scholarships, and two $1,000 scholarships in support of training as a drinking water treatment/distribution operator are available.
Environmental and civil engineers; water, wastewater, and recycling treatment plant operators; distribution system operators; chemists; laboratory technicians; biologists, ecologists, and environmental scientists; and others whose roles support safe and reliable drinking water are all suitable candidates. Deadline: March 15, 2023. Application Link. For information, call 909-481-7200 or email
The Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) Canham Graduate Studies scholarship provides $25,000 for a post-baccalaureate student in the water environment field. The scholarship is for education-related expenses such as room and board, tuition, and books. The scholarship may not be used to cover stipends or wages.
The applicant must be a WEF member, complete an online application, and be enrolled in a graduate program. Recipients must commit to working in the water industry for two years following graduation. Deadline: March 31, 2023. Application Link. For questions, email Lisa Ruane at
(Editor’s note: The Helix Water District, Otay Water District, Vallecitos Water District, Sweetwater Authority and Vista Irrigation District are five of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the San Diego County region.)