CA Water Week: Veterans in Water, Kyle Jones, IEUA

Announcements, Veterans in Water

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 role at the Agency? I work for the Inland Empire Utilities Agency as a Senior Operator at the Chino Basin Desalter Authority’s Chino I Desalter Drinking Water Treatment Plant. I have been the Senior Operator at this facility for 11 years. I oversee the day-to-day operations of the plant and its staff as well as assist with special projects, monthly reports, ordering chemicals, parts and supplies, and other administrative duties.

What / who inspired you to work in water? After leaving the military I was looking for a stable, recession-proof occupation with great benefits and a work-life balance. I used to drive past a wastewater plant, and I got curious about the field and started to learn about the water industry on my own. My first job in the industry was working in wastewater collections cleaning sewers. I then moved into wastewater treatment, followed by drinking water treatment.

What fuels your passion for your work? I feel that I am spending my life doing worthwhile work and am happy that I found this career field. The water industry is a great industry to work in and I enjoy how it is a good mix of different job duties – both inside and outside, not too labor intensive and not too sedentary. If I could choose this career over again, I would. The water industry and IEUA are both great places to work. I always knew we did important work, but I feel the pandemic really highlighted how important water industry jobs are.

What is the biggest mis-perception about working in water? Many don’t realize that it is difficult to enter the industry. I see countless people who are interested in the water industry until they learn what it takes to become certified to work in the industry. This is not an industry you can quickly jump into. Like any occupation, it requires effort and education. I was intimidated by the math when I first joined the industry, but it is worth the effort as it is a great field of work. CWEA is a great resource to help people enter the field and I would highly recommend this field to anyone. You are providing a valuable service to the community and environment, and there are a lot of opportunities in the water industry.

Why should veterans join this field? Veterans are a great fit for the water industry because they are accustomed to being reliable, dependable and working until the job is done. Veterans know how to work as part of a team and would excel at working in the public sector.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work? My favorite part of my job is giving plant tours to students. Water is such a big part of everybody’s life, and I enjoy teaching the next generation about the water industry. The majority of people know very little about this industry and what it takes to treat and deliver clean drinking water or treated recycled water. I enjoy being a part of educating our youth and teaching them about this process.