Career Stories

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      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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        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....

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          The Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA) has collaborated with IEWorks to welcome three new interns in the Operations Division. The Agency’s Board of Directors executed a Charter in May 2021 to sign on as a participating agency for IEWorks, a workforce development group developed by Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) that focuses on developing qualified employees in...

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            According to the US census bureau in 2018 women made up only 5.8% of operators in the water and wastewater industry, and less than 25% of women are in utility work overall. Join our panel of dynamic women as they share their experiences with advocacy and mentorship, and the benefits that women bring to our...

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              Resources for Veterans Interested in Water Careers October 6th, 11:00 a.m.to Noon informational webinar Veterans in Water – registration link October 7th, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. California Water Career fair California Water Jobs board – sign-up for job alerts Baywork career resources for veterans California’s water utilities now hiring and veterans have the skills utilities...

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                In the face of a pandemic, economic slump and deepening utilities talent issues, West Valley Water District (WVWD) leadership united a group of Inland Empire water and wastewater utility agencies, local colleges and community stakeholders to launch a groundbreaking initiative, IEWorks, which will help build a strong regional workforce. “In the face of retirements, a growing population and rising demand for water, we...

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                  Name: Thomas Bond Current Position: Electromechanical Technician (EMT) Experience/Certifications: 39 years in the Water and Wastewater industries. I currently hold a CA T3 D3 1. What is your current role in water/wastewater? I currently perform the duties of Electromechanical Technician which include but are not limited to performing scheduled preventive and predictive maintenance tasks on...

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                    Join the Students and Young Professionals Committee Brownbag Luncheon on Mentoring with speaker Kerrie Greenfelder, Kansas City Municipal Water Division Department Manager for Burns & McDonnell and inaugural winner of the 2020 WEF Mentorship Award on June 9 at 12:00 p.m. Students can register for free. Members get a $130 discount before April 23. Cecilia...

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                      Having diversity, equity, and inclusion in all levels of the workforce is vital to innovation and growth in the water sector. WEF’s Board of Trustees has established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Subcommittee to provide guidance on programs, communications, and membership as the next step in the journey toward becoming as a fully diverse, inclusive,...

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                        Howard Brewen Water Resource Recovery Facility Superintendent (Retired) Public Utilities City of San Luis Obispo Howard Brewen took the road less traveled to his position as superintendent of the Water Resource Recovery Facility for the City of San Luis Obispo.  Raised on his family’s ranch in north San Luis Obispo County, he followed in his...

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                           A special session for young water leaders of California Content development and from science to stories Presentation and moderation techniques Social media for leaders With Tom Freyberg, Alan Shapiro and Andrew Walker Tom Freyberg believes everyone has a story to tell. Spending nearly a decade travelling the globe for WaterWorld and reporting on major...

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                            Working together to provide an extraordinary academic and work experience that will deliver stable, higher-paying jobs to the Inland Empire, today West Valley Water District (WVWD) Board of Directors President Channing Hawkins and San Bernardino Valley Community College (SBVCC) President Diana Rodriguez signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to create paid or non-paid and part-time or full-time internships and...

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                               California’s water utilities are hiring now. They’ll hire thousands of highly-skilled professionals for water jobs this year. Your skills as a veteran could be exactly what water utilities are looking for. Dive into the California water profession. We can show you how. This one hour webinar features four veterans who work on the frontlines...

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                                 Calling all women (and women supporters) who want to feel empowered in the water, wastewater and power industries! Join us if you are interested in pursuing these amazing careers. This very special one hour webinar discussion features four woman who work on the frontlines of California water. We’re also celebrating these amazing water professionals...

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                                   The CWEA Students and Young Professionals Committee presents a skills building webinar The resume is a marketing tool which acts as a door opener and allows an employer to assess your qualifications quickly in the pre-screening process before interviews. Resumes should be succinct, commanding and truthful while emphasizing skills, strengths and accomplishments. Most resumes...

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                                    CWEA Students and Young Professionals Committee Personal Skills Builder Webinar The presentation will briefly cover the application process, with pointers on how to write an application that will get you past the Human Resources screening process and onto a supervisors desk for consideration of an interview. In addition, the presentation will explore how to make...

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                                       We’re honored to welcome managers from the California State Water Board Office of Operator Certification (OOC) to an informative webinar for water professionals and utility leaders focused on the State’s drinking water distribution, treatment and wastewater treatment operator exams. About the speakers Annette Caraway, Chief of the Office of Operator Certification.  Ms. Caraway has dedicated...

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                                        Video Profile “The requirement to continue training is vital because it ensures we stay up to date with current trends in the field.” Tara McClinton Volunteer TCP Moderator Lab Technician II Napa Sanitation District Laboratory Analyst, Grade 4 Environmental Compliance Inspector, Grade 4 This month’s member Q&A is with Tara McClinton, a CWEA member since...

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                                          After four years of work, the Advanced Water Treatment Operator™ (AWTO™) certification program is now complete and launched by the California-Nevada Section of the American Water Works Association (CA-NV AWWA) and the California Water Environment Association (CWEA). The exam for the highest-grade level, known as AWT5™, launched on July 15th, completing the planned roll-out of...

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                                            DKF Solutions Group has announced the upcoming release of a new reference guide for wastewater collection workers titled “Notes from the Field: Practical Tips and Best Practices for Collection System Operators.” The book was written in collaboration with leading industry experts Andy Morrison, Lenny Rather, and Sam Rose. Wastewater Collection System Operators often become frustrated...

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                                              As environmental professionals work to address the most pressing challenges of the 21st century, is time dedicated to the California Water Environment Association (AAEES) well spent? The answer from an active volunteer, Wendy Wert, P.E., BCEE, is a resounding yes and a compelling story. Wendy is registered civil engineer with the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts....

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                                                Kevin Street, City of Riverside Public Works Department, Wastewater Division  How did you get your first job in the wastewater sector?  My first career oriented job was with a local air pollution control district. It afforded me the opportunity to inspect and become familiar with wastewater treatment plant processes and equipment. Wastewater quickly piqued my interest; it...

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                                                      How did you get your first job in the wastewater sector?   My entry into the wastewater sector was very unconventional.  I had been working for the City of Long Beach Water Department as the Procurement Officer for a few years already in 2014. The Sewer Superintendent was about to retire and my boss at...

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                                                    By: Channing Vang, California Rural Water Association What’s your background? After being discharged from the military, I enrolled at DeVry University and earned my Associates degree in Electronics. I went to work for an oil company and focused on instrumentation. While working there, I was introduced to the field of environmental reporting and really enjoyed...

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                                                      Chris Lehman Supervisor City of San Luis Obispo WRRF 6 years US Navy, Radar Electrician What is your role? Water Resource Recovery Facility Supervisor at City of San Luis Obispo. What inspired you to work in water? In 2010 I left the Navy and moved back to California  [San Luis Obispo]. I was initially exploring...

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                                                        Tim Bratcher, Business Systems Programmer Davis Doane, Plant Maintenance Supervisor Valentin Martinez, Instrument and Control Technician III| Javier Natividad, Field Crew Supervisor Doug Roberts, Program Specialist Arturo Tejeda, Principal Engineering Technician Mike Wallace,Engineering Manager – Construction/Watershed Management Name: Tim Bratcher Title: Business Systems Programmer Branch/years of service: Navy, 10 years, 8 months What/who inspired you...

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                                                          Steve Jackson, Chief Water Treatment Plant Operator Shawn Triplett, Facilities Maintenance Supervisor Jon Meredith, Senior Maintenance Mechanic   Steve Jackson, Chief Water Treatment Plant Operator What is your role? I’m the Chief Water Treatment Plant Operator for Las Virgenes Municipal Water District’s (LVMWD) Westlake Filtration Plant. I have a Water Treatment 4 certification with the...

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                                                            Coverage of water workforce topics supported by waterTALENT The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Water Workforce Initiative to help cities and communities across the country that are facing critical staffing shortages for the operation and maintenance of essential drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. The goal of this new initiative is to provide federal leadership,...

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                                                              Rita Mooney, Administrative Assistant with Helix Water District Tenure: 13 years Certification held: D2 Branch/years of service: US Army/3 Years What is your role? I support the safety office.  I manage training and the medical surveillance program and I provide admin support for emergency operations, safety programs, safety committee and the wellness program. I conduct...

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                                                                Clint Lorimer, Distribution Operator III Carmichael Water District Army Veteran (3 years) What is your role? I am currently a Distribution Operator III. This is a journey level position, and some of my duties include the installation, repair and replacement of aging water services, new water mains, and fire hydrants to further support future needs...

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                                                                  Chris Nelson, Public Information Officer Tenure and certifications held:  20 Years with Carmichael Water District and 5 years prior with Arcade Water District.  Cross Connection Control Specialist, Distribution Operator Grade 3, Water Treatment Grade 2, Water Use Efficiency Practitioner Grade 2, Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor Name of agency:  Carmichael Water District Branch and years of...

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                                                                    Colleen Larsen, Geographical Information Services Coordinator Twenty-one years at Padre Dam Municipal Water District US Naval Reserves: Eleven years Colleen Larsen, a veteran of the US Naval Reserves, now serves the community as the Geographical Information Services (GIS) Coordinator at Padre Dam Municipal Water District. In her eleven years in the Naval Reserves, Colleen supported...

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                                                                      Joe Guzzino, Water Quality Specialist Seventeen Years at Padre Dam Municipal Water District Four years in the Marine Corps Joe Guzzino is the Water Quality Specialist at Padre Dam Municipal Water District and a veteran of the Marine Corps. It is Joe’s responsibility to ensure that every time a Padre Dam customer turns on their...

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                                                                        Paul Clarke, Director of Operations and Water Quality Twenty-two years at Padre Dam Municipal Water District Marine Corps – four years Paul Clarke is the Director of Operations and Water Quality at Padre Dam Municipal Water District. He became interested in water while serving in the Marine Corps, where his platoon operated and maintained reverse...

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                                                                          Ken Aplon, Wastewater Lead Operator III Marlon Brosco, Wastewater Operations Manager Gregory Davis, Water Operator II Denver Finley, Wastewater Maintenance Tech II Chipper Greene, Industrial Pretreatment Coordinator Aaron Kraft, GM Joshua Monday, Water Lead Operator III Mark Perod, Wastewater Operator I Vernon Perry, Water Planner/Scheduler Manuel Sanchez, Water Operator II Stephanee Valencia, Water Operations Manager...

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                                                                            Mark McClintock, Production Superintendent, Carmichael Water District Tenure and certifications held: 13 Years at CWD, SWRCB T5, SWRCB D4, Cross-Connection Control Specialist Branch/years of service: United States Navy, 8 years active duty, 12 years reserve What is your role? My position is Production Superintendent: My primary role is to ensure delivery of safe, high quality...

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                                                                              CWEA’s Kirt Brooks Memorial Scholarship was named after Kirtland “Kirt” Brooks, Association Manager and Bulletin editor for several years in the 1980’s. Kirt had joined the Association in the mid-60’s and become active in the San Francisco bay section and several other northern California sections. Kirt believed that by improving the technical qualification of operators...

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                                                                                Coverage of water workforce topics is supported by waterTALENT Garry Parker, Associate Professor Water Supply Technology, San Bernardino Valley College & Mt San Jacinto College, CWEA Past President 2016 Tenure and certifications held: Plant Maintenance Technologist Grade 4, Electrical Instrumentation Technologist Grade 3 Branch/years of service: US Navy 9 years What is your role? I...

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                                                                                  Meet Juan Guerreiro, Interim Assistant Director City of San Diego Public Utilities Department, a recipient of the Kirt Brooks Memorial Water Environment Scholarship in 2006. Juan received a Dual-Associate of Science degree in Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant Operations from Cuyamaca College but he didn’t stop there. Going on to get his Master’s, he also...

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                                                                                    Rhondi Emmanuel, Administrative Services Manager, Vallecitos Water District Tenure and certifications held: 7 years; IPMA-SCP Branch/years of service: USMC/9 years What is your role? As Administrative Services Manager, I’m responsible for multiple departments including human resources, public information/conservation, information technology, and risk management. What / who inspired you to work in water? To be honest, I never really thought about working in the water industry.  Since my...

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                                                                                      Dale Austin, Senior Pump and Motor Technician Tenure and certifications held: 20 Years D3, T2, Mech Tech 2 Name of agency: Vallecitos Water District Branch/years of service: Army 82/85 Navy 85/90   What is your role? As a Senior pump tech, I’m responsible for all water pump and pressure stations. Sewer lift stations, Emergency generators,...

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                                                                                        Support for our coverage of Women in Water is provided by DN Tanks. The Professional Development Committee and the Students and Young Professionals Committee of the San Francisco Bay Section of the CWEA held a Supporting Women in Wastewater Workshop and networking dinner on May 9, 2019. The event had almost 90 attendees and kicked...

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                                                                                          Support for our coverage of Women in Water is provided by DN Tanks. At AC19 Palm Springs, CWEA held it’s Second Annual Women Impacting Water Breakfast. It was a morning of networking, inspiration, encouragement and career advice. Megan Yoo Schneider of Seven Management Consulting lead the audience and panelists on an interactive discussion on challenges,...

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                                                                                            Coverage of water workforce topics supported by waterTALENT The Cucamonga Valley Water District is embarking on a first-time partnership with OPARC starting in November 2018. OPARC is a non-profit organization that facilitates meaningful employment opportunities for adults with disabilities in Southern California. The partnership with CVWD will give OPARC clients the opportunity to paint fire...

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                                                                                              Meet Cari Dale, Water Utilities Director, City of Oceanside, a recipient of the Kirt Brooks Memorial Water Environment Scholarship in 2004. Cari graduated from Cal State San Bernardino with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis on Water Resources in 2005. Her Master’s project focused on Achieving Effective Asset Management for Water and Wastewater...

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                                                                                                CWEA’s coverage of the water workforce issues is supported by WaterTalent In a recent interview published in TPO Magazine, Ingrid Bella of Santa Clara Valley Water District shares how their agency partners with organizations like BAYWORK to recruit the next generation of water professionals. BAYWORK, in the San Francisco area, is taking a regional collaboration...

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                                                                                                  Coverage of water workforce topics supported by waterTALENT Debi Lewis Past President 2017-2018 Professional Engineer Stantec Debi Lewis’ career began in business administration working for an ad agency. She started as a secretary in the Pasadena office of James M. Montgomery, which later became MWH and is now Stantec. Eventually she became an office manager...

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                                                                                                    Theodore Higgins has moved steadily taking on roles of greater responsibility in his 16 years at the Industrial Waste Management Division at the city of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation. Now he’s helping create advancement opportunities for his inspections colleagues through the creation of the Professional Development and Work Exposure Program. The program encourages the...

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                                                                                                      Support for our coverage of Women in Water is provided by DN Tanks. We’re hiring! Water and wastewater utilities across California need talented, hard working professionals to help keep our water clean and healthy. This interview is with: Elizabeth Meyerhoff Environmental Specialist Coachella Valley Water District The interviewer is CWEA leader: Judith Marquez Innovare Environmental...

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                                                                                                        There is no doubt that CWEA has played a huge role in my career and continues to open doors and present opportunities for my future growth in our exciting industry. It feels like yesterday I was attending my first workshop and studying for my first certification. Little did I know that one day I would...

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                                                                                                          In keeping with the October Wastewater Professional theme of “Women in Water,” the CWEA History Committee has produced a brief profile of a woman who was a pioneer in the history of CWEA’s governance. Background Historically, the wastewater collection and treatment field in California was dominated by men through most of the 20th century.  And,...

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                                                                                                            California’s water and wastewater agencies need approximately 6,000 new workers every year and that number continues to grow as more and more water professionals retire. Water careers provide an incredible opportunity for individuals who enjoy working with their hands, working outdoors and working as part of a larger team. Water careers offer great salaries and...

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                                                                                                              Press release from the Brookings Institute… Building off previous workforce research, the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program has released a first-of-its-kind analysis of jobs involved in the construction, operation, and maintenance of the country’s water infrastructure. Nearly 1.7 million workers fill jobs in utilities, construction firms, and numerous other employers across the water sector, while facing...

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                                                                                                                Director of Wastewater at EBMUD treatment plant, Eileen White, discusses her career in the industry. #womenimpactingwater

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                                                                                                                  Support for our coverage of Women in Water is provided by DN Tanks. Video produced by the Water Career Pathways program at West Valley College. #womenimpactingwater

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                                                                                                                    The lead sponsor for the Women Impacting Water breakfast is CDM Smith. CWEA held its first Women Impacting Water breakfast meeting at the Annual Conference in Sacramento this past April. The event was so popular it sold out. It was an inspiring morning of networking and discussion with California water leaders, engineers, operators and scientists....

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                                                                                                                      As we build California’s water utilities of the future, one of the most common issues raised is workforce readiness. Where will all of those highly-skilled and experienced water professionals come from?  Particularly since 30-50% of the current workforce is in the process of retiring. To better understand the workforce skills gap, the Water Research Foundation...

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                                                                                                                        From the Water Careers Pathways program at West Valley College… Water Challenge 2018 a Huge Success! On April 19th in the culmination of a semester-long high school team competition, the “Water Challenge,” 500 Bay Area students attended a high-profile presentation and award ceremony at Levi’s Stadium. Students arrived by bus to visit water-centered college booths,...

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                                                                                                                          About this series:  Each month CWEA is interviewing an innovative thinker in the water profession. We’re asking each person “The future of the water profession is …” Juan Guerreiro Deputy Director City of San Diego, Public Utilities Department Grade V Wastewater Treatment Operator, SWRCB Dual-Associate Degrees, Water and Wastewater, Cuyamaca College Bachelors Degree, San Diego State University...

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                                                                                                                            California’s water and wastewater agencies need approximately 6,000 new workers every year and that number continues to grow as more and more water professionals retire. To highlight the wide variety of career paths available in the sector, several California associations have launched CAWaterInterns.org. The site lists available internships, apprenticeships and operator-in-training opportunities at California water...

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                                                                                                                              This article first appeared in the March 2018 issue of Treatment Plant Operator magazine, published by COLE Publishing, Three Lakes, Wisconsin. It is reprinted by permission. Cross-training staff in all facets of treatment plant operations, maintenance and laboratory analysis is yielding big dividends at the Carpinteria (California) Sanitary District. One reward was the 2016 Small...

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                                                                                                                                About this series:  Each month CWEA is interviewing an innovative thinker in the water profession. We’re asking each person “The future of the water profession is …” Prior to becoming a water professional, Richard Salas worked for McDonald Douglas as a structural mechanic. “Working at McDonald Douglas gave me an appreciation of attention to detail,” Richard...

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                                                                                                                                  According to the Workforce Survey from Baywork, Bay Area utilities will need aboutt 828 new workers over the next three years in the electrical, mechanics and instrumentation categories. Electrical Instrumentation techs is one of the most in demand practice areas in our profession . Every agency is looking for one it seems. The water sector...

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                                                                                                                                    This season’s FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. and FIRST® LEGO® League Challenges focused on problems within the human water cycle, or the way people find, transport, use, or dispose of water.   CWEA member Matt Kallerud is extremely familiar with this year’s FIRST® LEGO®League Jr. and FIRST® LEGO® League themes – as a civil/environmental engineer, he designs water and wastewater treatment plants. Matt was inspired to pursue a career...

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                                                                                                                                      Support for our coverage of Women in Water is provided by DN Tanks. CWEA had the fortunate opportunity to conduct a round table discussion with four inspiring California water leaders. Debi Lewis, Kathy Suter, Tracy Stigers and Heather Collins shared personal experiences of being a woman working in water. Our conversation included the narrowing gender...

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                                                                                                                                          State SJWP Competition Entry Deadline: April 15, 2018| ENTER COMPETITION To be eligible for the state competition, students must complete the online entry form and electronically submit their research paper. There are no specific paper guidelines at the state level, however the file cannot be larger than 2MB. Teams of one or two students may enter....

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                                                                                                                                          For Lisa Arroyo, wastewater systems manager for the City of Santa Barbara, the hardest part of being a women in the clean water profession is balancing family with a job. “I have two small children,” she explains. “Sometimes it is hard to turn off work and concentrate on being a mom. Changing your focus is...

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                                                                                                                                             Years ago, Amber Baylor read Marc Reisner’s Cadillac Desert, packed up her car, and headed for California. She’s never looked back. “California represented the most complex water system in the world,” she says, “and I wanted to be part of it.” She got her wish and after 10 years managing a water quality laboratory, she...

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                                                                                                                                              Only one in seven engineers in the United States is a woman, according to the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress. And in wastewater, only one in 20 treatment plant operators across the country is a woman (The Institute for Women’s Policy Research). So, is the gender ration any more balanced in California? Yes...

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                                                                                                                                                Michelle Tarantino is one of only two women in the group of 20 operators at the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District in Martinez. Yet she sees no particular barriers keeping women from the field, as long as they are determined to succeed and willing to put in the time. “The sky is the limit for...

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                                                                                                                                                  On Friday Sept 29th Baywork released their long awaited report on water workforce reliability before a gathering of 65 representatives from water utilities, associations and community colleges. The Bay Area will need over 828 new water professionals in the next three years and there are not enough students in the training pipeline right now the...

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                                                                                                                                                    Meet Michael Cunningham, EIT, a recipient of the Kirt Brooks Memorial Water Environment Scholarship in 2013. Michael graduated from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Switzerland where he focused on water/wastewater treatment process modeling and experimental work. He is grateful for his colleagues at Central Contra Costa Sanitary District who knew he was planning to...

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                                                                                                                                                      Find water jobs at CAWaterJobs.org Emmanuel Sarpong Operations Technician Foreman Desert Water Agency Emmanuel served 4 years in the US Marine Corps.

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                                                                                                                                                        Marc Oliver Quijano moved from lizards to water, and the results have been very impressive. “I studied Biology in college,” he says, “and conducted research on lizard population genetics, determining how human overpopulation affects the environment. An internship at West Basin Municipal Water District’s water recycling facilities and good mentors sparked a new career. I...

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                                                                                                                                                          When the “One Water” plant of the future finally arrives, Amanda Bird will feel right at home. A Grade V Operator at the Santa Cruz wastewater treatment plant, she’s excited about the future of the profession. She foresees the day when wastewater, drinking water, water recycle, biosolids management and energy generation will be combined into a single, efficient public...

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                                                                                                                                                            The Bay Area Consortium for Clean Water Education is offering community college classes and scholarships for students seeking a career in the water and wastewater industry. Registration is now open for continuing or new students. The first class begins Wednesday evening, August 30th in Redwood City at 1400 Radio Road, from 6 to 9 p.m....