Editor’s Note: 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. Dale Austin, Vallecitos Water District Senior Pump & Motor Tech, is the Water Utility Hero of the Week.
Water Utility Hero of the Week: Dale Austin
Job/Agency: Vallecitos Water District Senior Pump & Motor Tech
How did you become interested in working in the water industry?
I had friends and a neighbor that worked for different agencies and different jobs. They all talked highly of their agencies and the jobs they did. I wasn’t sure where I would fit into the industry so I took classes in Water Distribution, Water Treatment, and Wastewater Treatment. I learned so much in those classes. I applied and got my first job in Water Distribution where I could apply my skills as a Certified Pipe Line Welder and Machinist, but my passion has always been in mechanical, so I transferred to a treatment plant which led me to my current job with Vallecitos.
How has your job changed during the pandemic?
I pride myself in having my equipment 100% available, so with the pandemic Vallecitos is doing a rotating schedule to help with distancing and safeguarding the crews. Staying in contact with the crew on duty via email and phone. Prioritizing work loads and talking to vendors. I don’t personally like to carry my phone when not at work but with the pandemic it is a very important tool to stay in contact with everyone.
How are you keeping safe?
By following guidelines from the CDC, maintaining social distancing, and following good hygiene.
What are you most looking forward to after the crisis ends?
Sitting down at a restaurant for dinner and going to the movies with my wife.