Helix Water District Adds New Assistant General Manager Position

Helix Water District has added a new tier of management to help oversee its more than 277,000 East County customers.

The district’s five-person board last week approved the creation of an assistant general manager position, bringing the number of employees to 151 in the district, which has an $80 million budget.

District spokesperson Mike Uhrhammer said Helix created the new position as part of its succession plan following the anticipated retirement of current general manager Carlos Lugo.

San Diego Water Authority Hires Veterans Through SkillBridge

The San Diego County Water Authority is the first public agency in California to participate in the Department of Defense SkillBridge Program, which connects transitioning military service members to career-track job training opportunities. The regional initiative is off to a fast start with two SkillBridge interns starting their civilian careers at the Water Authority this summer.

The Water Authority joined the federal program in June 2020, as part of an effort by the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies to meet the growing need for skilled water industry workers.

6 Alarming Facts About America’s Water Industry

America is one thirsty country. The U.S. consumes 322 billion gallons of water every single day, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The most, 133 billion gallons, goes to thermoelectric power. Next is irrigation at 118 billion gallons a day. The last big category is the 39 billion gallons of water that go to personal consumption. That’s the stuff that cooks the pasta and wets the washcloths and cleans the car tires and pours down the drains of millions of showers, sinks and toilets every second of every day. And the following is just one little drop in that great, big bucket.

In the early 1990s, most bottled water came from small, regional companies. In the ensuing years, control of the market has become concentrated among just a few giant corporations. Today, No. 1 Aquafina and No. 2 Dasani each do more than $1 billion in sales.

San Diego County Water Authority Adds Tish Berge To Leadership Team

Tish Berge is joining the San Diego County Water Authority as assistant general manager, bringing experience from every aspect of water utility management to serve the region, it was announced Thursday. Berge is general manager of the Sweetwater Authority, one of the water authority’s 24 member agencies. Berge starts her new role Feb. 22 alongside Deputy General Manager Dan Denham and General Manager Sandra L. Kerl.

Scholarship Applications Open for Aspiring Water Pros

If you’re a student considering college studies leading to a career in the water and wastewater industry, several California water associations and San Diego regional member water agencies offer college scholarships. Scholarships are available for community college, college, and graduate-level programs

New Regional Degree Program Responds to Water and Wastewater Workforce Needs

Driven by the rapidly growing demands for skilled career professionals in the water and wastewater industry, National University and Cuyamaca College will launch a new degree pathway program starting in February 2021.

Developed in collaboration with regional employers, the new Bachelor of Public Administration degree with a concentration in Waterworks Management provides a seamless pathway for graduates of the Cuyamaca College Center for Water Studies to transfer into the bachelor’s program after earning their associate’s degree. Transfers are also available to graduates of other community colleges.

Water Utility Hero of the Week, Matthew Carriveau, Otay Water District

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. Matthew Carriveau, Otay Water District Customer Pump Mechanic I, is the Water Utility Hero of the Week.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District's Pump/Motor Technician Dominic "Bruno" Brunozzi has been named the California Water Environment Association's (CWEA) "Mechanical Technician of the Year: for the third time. Photo: Water Authority Dominic Brunozzi

Olivenhain Employee Dominic Brunozzi is Mechanical Technician of the Year

For the third time in five years, Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Pump/Motor Technician Dominic “Bruno” Brunozzi has been named the California Water Environment Association’s “Mechanical Technician of the Year.”

Brunozzi was recognized for his dedication to public service and mechanical expertise. He also received the same designation at the local level earlier this year from CWEA’s San Diego Section.

“We are thrilled that Bruno has been recognized as Mechanical Technician of the Year for the third time in five years,” said OMWD Board Vice President Bob Topolovac. “He is not only committed to maintaining equipment essential to providing vital services for our ratepayers, he also sets an example for employees by training operators on the safe use of equipment.”

“I am honored to be recognized by my peers,” said Brunozzi. “It reinforces the view that the water industry is family and that hard work does not go unnoticed.”

Sharing safety knowledge key to Brunozzi’s success

Among Brunozzi’s key on-the-job responsibilities is training OMWD operators on safe equipment use.

“I approach each day with a sense of responsibility that everybody should return to their families safe and sound,”  he said. “If an employee is unfamiliar with the proper operation of a piece of equipment, they or someone else can be harmed.”

Brunozzi sees his approach to sharing knowledge and continuous learning as his secrets to professional success.

“Do your best and be honest about it. If you are unsure about something, stop and find someone who has more experience in the subject, then be sure to pass on your knowledge.

“Also, continue to learn. This can be accomplished in many ways; take a class at a local college, watch a video about your industry or perhaps cross train in a different department, you never know what the future may have in store for you.”

Military experience offers transferable career skills to water industry

Dominic Brunozzi credits a 21-year active duty career of service in the United States Navy for his attention to detail and ability to multitask. He retired in 2007 as a Chief Petty Officer. Photo: Water Authority

Dominic Brunozzi credits a 21-year active duty career of service in the United States Navy for his attention to detail and ability to multitask. He retired in 2007 as a Chief Petty Officer. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Dominic Brunozzi credits a 21-year active duty career of service in the United States Navy for his attention to detail and the ability to multitask. He retired in 2007 as a Chief Petty Officer.

“My rate (job description) was Engineman,” said Brunozzi. “I worked on auxiliary equipment onboard combatant vessels: pumps, motors, generators, air conditioners, sewage systems, water purification systems, and their supporting equipment. Navy vessels need to produce drinking water from the ocean, so they use a variety of processes such as distillation and reverse osmosis, then treat the water for human consumption.

“I cannot stress enough how the water industry is a good match for military members looking for a career after the military. The water industry is a close-knit family similar to the military. Their military training provides added skills to the water industry such as maturity, work ethic, and leadership,” he said.

In addition to Brunozzi’s award, OMWD received third-place recognition statewide and from the San Diego Section in the “Community Engagement & Outreach Program of the Year” category. Outreach efforts include engagement with legislators and regulatory officials, classroom visits, presentations to community groups, newsletters, social media posts, community events, and tours of OMWD’s 4S Ranch Water Reclamation Facility. OMWD serves approximately 14% of its overall demand from recycled water.

Founded in 1927, the CWEA is a not-for-profit association of 9,000-plus professionals in the wastewater industry. The association trains and certifies wastewater professionals disseminates technical information, and promotes sound policies to benefit society through protection and enhancement of the water environment.

San Diego Water Works Website Offers One-Stop Shop for Water Industry Jobs

The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have launched a new website – – that provides the first comprehensive posting of regional water and wastewater industry job openings in one location.

As the San Diego economy begins recovering from recession, the site features expanded job opportunities and regularly updated information about internships and training opportunities – a one-stop-shop for anyone interested in a new career or a new role in the water industry.

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’.