Goals for the upcoming Women in Water conference are increasing opportunities for women in the water industry, and diversifying the workforce. Photo: Cuyamaca College

‘Women in Water’ Conference Aims to Expand Career Options

It boils down to bringing more women into the water and wastewater industry.

That’s the central message from organizers of the second annual Women in Water – Exploring Career Pathways conference set for Jan. 17 at the Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon. Registration for the day-long series of workshops and panel discussions is open through Jan. 15.

Sandy Kerl, deputy general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority, will be the keynote speaker. Speakers also include Cari Dale, water utilities director for the City of Oceanside; Vicki Quiram, general manager of the Carlsbad Municipal Water District; Tish Berge, general manager of the Sweetwater Authority; and Lan Wiborg, deputy director of long-range planning and water resources for the City of San Diego.

The Center for Water Studies is working with the National Science Foundation to boost the number of women entering the industry, and Women in Water is among its initiatives. Target audiences include women contemplating a career change; women in the water and wastewater industry looking to advance their careers; military veterans transitioning to civilian life; and high school girls seeking to learn more about career opportunities as they near graduation.

Pending retirements offer opportunities

An unprecedented number of retiring workers in the next few years opens the opportunity to recruit new talent to the water industry. Photo: Cuyamaca College

“The local water industry is anticipating losing between 1,200 and 1,400 people in critical jobs in the coming years because of pending retirements, which provides a tremendous opportunity to further diversify our workforce,” said Don Jones, a conference coordinator. “Anyone interested in a good-paying career that is making a difference in people’s lives might want to consider registering for Women in Water.”

Conference supporters include the Water Authority, the California-Nevada Section of the American Water Works Association, the California Water Environment Association, and the Association of California Water Agencies. Lunch, refreshments and parking are included in the $25 registration fee. Students are free. Cuyamaca College is at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway, El Cajon.