CAREER PATHS

Electrical Instrumentation Technologist

Within the water and wastewater industry, Electronic Maintenance Technicians, also called Instrument Technicians, are responsible for installing and maintaining various electronic monitoring and communication equipment, including pressure and level recorders, programmable logic controllers, relays and computers. They are responsible for communications systems at treatment plants, pump stations, power generating facilities, electrical substations, and remote locations.

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Electrician

Electricians install, repair, operate, and maintain the electrical and power systems for homes, businesses, factories, and infrastructure within the water and wastewater industry. They are responsible for the wiring and control equipment through which electricity flows and the electrical equipment that it powers.

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Engineer

Engineering is an exciting profession that makes a difference in our world. Engineers play a critical role in providing clean, safe water to sustain life and support our economy. This includes planning, design and construction of new facilities as well as maintenance of existing ones. Engineering jobs in the water and wastewater industry provide the opportunity to earn a good living for yourself and your family while serving your community and protecting the environment.

“There are two things that make my job enjoyable. The first is the satisfaction of knowing that I am building infrastructure that keeps the environment safe from wastewater and pollution. The second is that even though this is a position in civil engineering, I am exposed to all of the other engineering disciplines…. This keeps the job interesting and allows me to learn about things that I might not otherwise be exposed to.” Chris Pachmayer, Union Sanitary District.

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Environmental Compliance Inspector

An Environmental Compliance Inspector (ECI) inspects industrial, commercial and municipal activities to ensure compliance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), State Water Board, Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB,) and local regulations and ordinances.

The EPA established and maintains pretreatment regulations for all publicly operated treatment works (POTW) as part of their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits. ECIs work with local commercial and industrial dischargers to ensure the POTW can maintain its treatment levels and meet permit requirements. Environmental Compliance Inspectors are sometimes known as Pretreatment Inspectors.

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Mechanic

Under general direction, the Mechanic/Machinist performs preventive, routine and emergency maintenance and repair of a variety of heavy and light equipment, related systems and components.

Knowledge of: basic techniques of shop theory and bench work such as chipping, sawing, filing, drilling, welding (MIG and ARC), soldering, gearing, threading, grinding and heat treatment; maintenance and repair of a variety of equipment including hydraulically and pneumatically operated machinery; arithmetic functions needed for precise measurements in performing machining duties; safety rules and regulations in the workplace, field, and while operating equipment; and familiarity with basic composition, characteristics, and uses of commonly used machine shop metals and materials.

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Wastewater Collections Operator

Wastewater Collections Operators are responsible for skilled tasks in the construction, maintenance, and repair of wastewater system facilities; operating a variety of light and moderately heavy power driven equipment; and ensuring public health and safety by preventing and/or responding to sewage overflows and blockages.

Wastewater Collections Operators are responsible for skilled tasks in the construction, maintenance, and repair of wastewater system facilities; operating a variety of light and moderately heavy power driven equipment; and ensuring public health and safety by preventing and/or responding to sewage overflows and blockages. They inspect, clean, maintain, construct, and repair wastewater collection systems including sanitary sewers, storm drains, pump stations, pipes, manholes and catch basins.

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Wastewater Treatment Operator

Under general supervision, operates, inspects, and maintains a variety of plant equipment in connection with the continuous operation of a large metropolitan wastewater treatment plant; directs lower level operators; and performs related work as required.

The operation, maintenance and cleaning of primary and secondary wastewater treatment equipment and facilities; wastewater treatment principles, methods, and practices; arithmetic; safety rules, codes, and regulations pertaining to the work; basic first aid; the methods and precautions in storing and handling chlorine and other hazardous gases and chemicals; wastewater sampling and routine process control tests.

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According to a workforce report by the Brookings Institute:

  • There are 212 different occupations in the water sector
  • In the US nearly 1.7 million workers fill jobs across the water sector
  • The water sector pays above average according to Brookings, up to 50 percent more for water workers in entry level jobs
  • California hires over 6,000 new water and wastewater professionals per year *

Read the Brookings report. * CA statistics calculated by CWEA based a Cuyamaca College water workforce study.

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CAREER ADVICE

Career advice stories are sponsored by WaterTALENT

From Pharmaceuticals to Wastewater, One Woman’s Path to Building a Solid Career
With no prior experience, Jennifer Rojas’ entry into the wastewater industry may have seemed a little unconventional. Today, after more than 10 years in her chosen field, she looks back on how adapting the managerial kills she already possessed and being surrounded by her knowledgeable team helped Rojas build a solid career. “I had just...
Kirt Brooks Scholarship Winner Patricia Macatugal Shares Advice to New Students
Patricia Macatugal is currently a second-year graduate student attending California State University, Long Beach to receive her Master’s in Water Resources Engineering. She received her Bachelor’s in Science for Civil Engineering at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Patricia started her engineering journey in a high school environmental science class which ultimately got her thinking about...
Our Water Future: In Retirement Levi Fuller Plans to Continue Growing Pipeline of New Professionals
If you work in the Bay Area’s wastewater sector you likely know Levi Fuller. After thirty-one years on the job, most recently as the Operations Supervisor for Dublin San Ramon Services District, Levi has decided it’s time for some new adventures. He’s switching off his work cell phone for good and heading out into retirement....

INSPIRING CAREER STORIES

Pure Water Oceanside Makes History as First Water Reuse Project in San Diego County
Today, the first operating advanced water purification facility in San Diego County was officially dedicated in the City of Oceanside. Elected officials and water leaders throughout southern California commemorated the milestone aptly celebrated on “World Water Day.” Pure Water Oceanside purifies recycled water to create a new local source of high-quality drinking water that is...
Governor Newsom Tours MWD-LACSD Advanced Water Treatment Pilot Facility
Governor Gavin Newsom visited a Metropolitan Water District of Southern California water recycling facility to discuss the administration’s response to the ongoing megadrought affecting the western United States. January through March were the driest first three months in the state’s recorded history, the state’s largest reservoirs are currently at half of their historical averages, and...
Communicating During an Emergency: LACSD Responds to January’s Sewer Spill
The Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts (Sanitation Districts) protect public health and the environment by providing wastewater management for 5.5 million people. The agency operates and maintains a regional wastewater collection system, which includes approximately 1,400 miles of sewers, 48 pumping plants and 11 wastewater treatment plants that convey and treat about half the wastewater...

WOMEN IN WATER

Following in Dad’s Footsteps, Plant Operator Finds Rewarding Career Path
There are hundreds of interesting stories of how wastewater professionals made their way into the industry, especially for women who have entered a field historically dominated by men. Plant Operator II, Tyrese Powell-Slotterbeck’s journey began with a family connection. “My father Gary is a Grade 5 wastewater operator, and it was his vision to get...
Lisa Malek-Zadeh: Passionate About Service and Pushing for Change
Take a little bit of her family’s service business, combine it with a passion for public works, a bachelors degree from UCLA, an MBA from Golden State University, and an unending appetite for change and communication, and you’ll have Lisa Malek-Zadeh, general manager of West County Wastewater District in Richmond. “I don’t see myself as...
Engineer Finds Career Path in Recycled Water
If you had told Madeline Kelsch just six years ago that her future would include working as a civil engineer in Los Angeles on a project that would rejuvenate the recycled water infrastructure throughout the city, she wouldn’t have believed it. Although open to new experiences, at the time, Kelsch was taking environmental science classes...

VETERANS IN WATER

CA Water Week: Veterans in Water, Kyle Jones, IEUA
First and last name: Kyle Jones Job title: Senior Water Treatment Plant Operator, Inland Empire Utilities Agency Tenure: 13 years at IEUA, 17 years in the industry Certifications: Drinking Water Treatment T4, Drinking Water Distribution D3, Wastewater Treatment Grade V Branch and years of service: U.S. Marine Corps; 4.5 years active duty What is your...
CA Water Week: Veterans in Water, Allan D. Jones, IEUA
First and last name: Allan D. Jones Job title: Electrical & Instrument Technician III, Inland Empire Utilities Agency Certifications held: C-10 License Electrical Contracting Branch and years of service: Navy; Four years of service What is your role at the Agency? As an Electrical/Instrumentation Tech III, my daily role at the Agency is to service,...
CA Water Week: Veterans In Water, Joshua Oelrich, IEUA
First and last name: Joshua Oelrich Job title: Deputy Manager of Maintenance, Inland Empire Utilities Agency Certifications held: Vibrations Analyst: ISO Category 1; Certified Reliability Leader (CRL); Certified Level 1 Machinery Lubrication Technician Branch and years of service: Navy 2000-2006 1.     What is your role at the Agency? Deputy Manager of Maintenance – Under direction,...

CALIFORNIA WATER & WASTEWATER WORKFORCE

New Degree Program Responds to Water and Wastewater Workforce Needs (sponsored)
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...
Video: CA Water Associations Host Second Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Panel
On February 16th we hosted our second Diversity in California Water panel discussion. Two California water leaders shared lessons learned to support DEI efforts within their agencies. The agencies are members of the California Urban Water Agencies (CUWA). They have developed a DEI Toolkit for water and wastewater agencies to help support their diversity programs....
CA Water Week Video: Water Leaders Discuss Ideas for Increasing Diversity
The California water sector is rapidly hiring. How do we reflect California’s diversity at all levels of our workforce and foster a more inclusive environment with our co-workers? Watch the panel of water leaders discuss workforce development programs, new DEI efforts and what can hold back diversity efforts and the champions we need to move...

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