Recorded CASA-CWEA Coronavirus Webinar: Overcoming O&M Challenges to Maintain Essential Services

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Join the fourth CWEA-CASA webinar featuring six top utility executives from the San Francisco PUC, Regional San in Sacramento and the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD). They will share their plans for dealing with unique O&M challenges while also preparing for new emergencies as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

This is a free webinar for water and wastewater professionals organized by CWEA and the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA).

During the pandemic, water and wastewater utilities are triggering their response plans for continuity of operations. A significant component during the pandemic is considering critical functions handled by essential personnel whose roles do not allow telework.

Critical services must continue and team leaders must plan for the continuity of operations in the face of potentially severe staff shortages and other management challenges.







Introducer: Wendy Wert, PE, BCEE, Environmental Engineer, CWEA President, Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts

Wendy Wert, PE, BCEE is a Board-Certified Environmental Engineer with the Sanitation Districts. For the past 20 years she has been working on programs that rely on public participation to integrate water supply, water reuse with wastewater facilities planning. She received a B.S. in Environmental Engineering and an M.S. in Water Resources Engineering from the University of Central Florida (UCF). Her studies gave her opportunities to collaborate with others. It was during this time that Wendy developed an interest in effectively communicating math and science to diverse groups. Today, she uses her position as an engineer to support outreach and education programs that explain how the work of the Sanitation Districts identifies community needs then applies engineering and scientific principles to meet them.






Moderator: Greg Kester, Director of Renewable Resource Programs, California Association of Sanitation Agencies

Greg serves as both the technical and programmatic contact for CASA members and conduit for emerging issues on state and federal level on all biosolids, renewable energy, recycled water, and related issues. Prior to joining CASA, Greg served as the state biosolids coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. He represented all states in the nation, by their election, to USEPA on all biosolids issues. He served on the National Academy of Sciences Committee which evaluated federal biosolids regulations and produced the 2002 report: Biosolids Applied to Land: Advancing Standards and Practices. Greg holds a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and is a registered PE in Wisconsin.






Speaker Panelist: Glenn Bielefelt, Operations and Maintenance Manager – Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant (a.k.a. Regional San) – Agency lead on the pandemic

Glenn is the Operations and Maintenance Manager wastewater treatment facility that serves the Sacramento region. Glenn has worked for Regional San for 26 years, the last 10 as the O&M manager. He holds a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering.


Speaker Panelist: George Engel, Operations Manager, SFPUC / Wastewater Enterprise

George Engel is the Operations Manager for the Wastewater Enterprise of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) with over 15 years of wastewater experience.






Speaker Panelist: Chris McDaniels, Collection System Managers, San Francisco PUC

SF Native spending his entire 40 years of construction working on SF Projects. He has provided Project Management, Construction Management, Superintendent Services, Assistant to DPW Director Services, SFPUC – Waste Water- CSD Sewer Operations Manager Services and Currently is SFPUC- Waste Water – Acting Collections Systems Manager.







Speaker Panelist: Joel Prather, Maintenance Manager – Treatment Facilities, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission – Wastewater Enterprise

Joel Prather is the Maintenance Manager for San Francisco’s wastewater treatment facilities. Joel has worked with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission for over nine years and has been in civil service for over 24 years. He holds degrees in Business Administration and Urban Studies.







Speaker Panelist: Karri Ving, Business Strategy and Performance Manager, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

Karri Ving is the Business Strategy and Performance Manager for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Wastewater Enterprise. She oversees strategic planning, resource recovery, workforce development, financial and capital planning, and organizational development initiatives. In her prior role as Resource Recovery and Pollution Prevention Manager, she played a key role in transitioning the Wastewater Enterprise mission and culture from waste treatment to resource recovery. She has over 10 years’ experience in upcycling urban organics into fuels, power and soil amendments. She vice-chairs the Water Environment Federation’s Residuals and Biosolids Committee, was past Chair of the Biofuel Task Force as well as the Science and Research Workgroup for the California Association of Sanitation Agencies. Over the past several years Karri has worked with other Bay Area agencies to develop the Bay Area Biosolids Coalition as the trusted forum within the region for biosolids innovation, best management practices, carbon sequestration and sustained research. Karri has a background in restaurant management, marine diesel mechanics, environmental advocacy and received her baccalaureate degree in Politics from Oberlin College.







Speaker Panelist: Rob Thompson, Assistant General Manager and Director of Operations and Maintenance, OCSD – Agency leader and Incident Commander for our Emergency Operations Center.

Robert C. Thompson, PE Assistant General Manager and Director of Operations & Maintenance Robert (Rob) Thompson is the assistant general manager (AGM) for the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD). As the AGM, he oversees the Operations & Maintenance and Engineering departments. Previously, he served as the Director of Engineering. Mr. Thompson came to OCSD in 1995 as an Engineer in Operations and Maintenance. He has served in many capacities for OCSD including: Manager of the Process Controls Division to oversee the maintenance, installation and programming of OCSD’s SCADA system and programmable logic controllers; Engineering Manager overseeing the instrumentation shops, electrical shops and power generation plants; and Engineering Manager overseeing Asset Management and Engineering Planning. Prior to joining OCSD, Mr. Thompson worked for The Ralph M. Parsons Company as a senior engineer and project manager on several major oil field projects in Prudhoe Bay Alaska, refinery projects in Philadelphia, PA, and coordinated world-wide sulfur technology sales. Mr. Thompson is a registered Electrical Engineer and Civil Engineer in the States of California and Washington. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from Cal Poly Pomona, and a Master of Public Administration degree from Long Beach State.


About the COVID-19 webinar series

This webcast is organized by CWEA’s Education Team in partnership with the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA).

During the webinar registration process, you will be able to enter your questions about O&M challenges. We will do our best to get through as many questions as possible.