Meet Emerging Leader: Jose Rodriguez, Supervisor, Sunnyvale County Water District

CA Water Pros, Emerging Leaders, Members in the News, Wastewater Life

Those familiar with Jose Rodriguez know he’d rather be out in the field than stuck in an office.  

“I enjoy being out in nature,” he says, “doing Mother Nature’s job and getting my hands dirty.” 

Jose is supervisor of both water and wastewater at the Sunnyvale County Water District in Hollister. He’s been in his current position for just a few months, after working at Hollister for over 20 years, the last six as chief wastewater plant operator.   

He’s responsible for keeping his facilities in compliance with Title 22 regulations, and supervising a staff of 13. 

“I love the camaraderie of our staff,” he says. Keeping them safe during the Covid-19 pandemic is foremost on his mind. 

“We keep staff separated while onsite,” he says. “And the challenge is making sure they keep themselves safe when they leave the site. We provide them with all the necessary personal protection equipment.” 

He says his staff has adequate PPE because they’ve dealt with a local supplier. “They’re right down the street and we have a one-on-one relationship, instead of dealing with a corporate supplier,” he says. 

He also works closely with the local county health department. “We’re classified as essential workers—right behind first responders,” he points out, and we can get PPE equipment directly from them. “We needed 600 masks and were able to get them within 24 hours.” 

His team also networks with CWEA webcasts, and Rodriguez makes sure that more than one operator knows how to do certain tasks—in case someone has to be quarantined. “Two or three others need to be able to jump in,” he says. “We emphasize cross-training.” 

Jose bootstrapped his own education, studying Ken Kerri books from Sacramento State to learn the profession and get certified. 

It will be different in the future, he believes.  

Employees will need to know comprehensive disciplines like laboratory, chemical addition and reaction, micro-biology, construction and mathematics. 

“This industry is going to be one that is in high demand, but jobs are going to be tougher to get,” he says.  


We are looking for accomplished water professionals who are making a significant, positive impact on California’s water and they have not yet been recognized for that effort.

Emerging leader describes an individual who:

  • Has demonstrated the potential to assume a leadership role in an organization.
  • Are strong performers who have the potential, ability, and aspiration for continuing their impact on the profession in a leadership role.
  • Show commitment to the organization, exert influence, and demonstrate a willingness to step up and take on more responsibility.
  • Have desire to grow both personally and professionally through networking with like-minded professionals and volunteer work in our profession.
  • Impact will last for a couple of years or more.

Nominators need to be a CWEA member. The nominee does not have to be a CWEA member but should be involved with California water and should live in California. Self nominations are eligible – make your case for the impact you’ve had and you might get picked!

The Emerging Leaders will be selected by a panel of seasoned industry leaders and will be interviewed and profiled in Clean Water.

Nominations due April 1!

Submit application.