CWEA has submitted an additional comment letter on ELAP Regulations Development/Laboratory Standard. To see the full letter, click here.

Dear Members of the State Water Board:

The California Water Environment Association (CWEA) in conjunction with our Laboratory Committee wishes to express concern regarding the impact of the State’s intent to adopt The NELAC Institute (TNI) 2016 as new standards for laboratory accreditation. CWEA previously provided comments in a letter dated September 15, 2016. We appreciate the State granting additional time for review and providing an opportunity to give additional feedback. We would like to provide additional information for your consideration regarding how this proposed standards will affect our laboratory community.

As stated in our previous letter, the CWEA Laboratory Committee’s main concerns are with regard to the impact to smaller laboratories, those with five (5) or fewer dedicated laboratory staff. Smaller laboratories compose the majority of wastewater laboratories within the State of California, approximately seventy-five percent (75%) of wastewater laboratories in California have five (5) or fewer dedicated laboratory personnel and as many as fifty percent (50%) have two (2) for fewer dedicated laboratory personnel. In other states the adoption of TNI as the standard for state accreditation has resulted in a large percentage of small laboratories either choosing to forego accreditation or simply ceasing laboratory operations altogether, e.g. Texas, Florida and Virginia. [Read more]

Being honored by the CWEA awards program improves the professional status of all personnel working in the wastewater industry and related fields and stimulates public awareness of the importance of wastewater treatment to public health and the water environment. CWEA has a many special awards that are awarded to individuals in addition to the standard state awards. Follow the links to the nomination forms if you know someone who fits the categories below.

Crystal Crucible
The nominee for this award must promote pride and safety in the workplace, teamwork, education and the promotion of professionalism in the wastewater laboratory field.
Crystal Crucible Nomination Form

Quarter Century Recognition
The CWEA Quarter Century Recognition Program recognizes water professionals for their commitment to improving the quality of life and the protection of the environment. CWEA Quarter Century Recognition Program honorees have dedicated their careers in a challenging and most vital profession, the water environment field. These essential professionals who have spent countless hours improving our water environment include: Operators; Collection System, Maintenance, Laboratory, and Environmental Compliance personnel; Engineers; and Administrators. See the past recipients here.
Quarter Century Recognition Nomination Form

5S recognizes individuals active in protecting the water environment through participation in Local, State, and/or Federal sponsored activities.  Nominations are being accepted through March 1, 2016.  Please consider nominating your peers who have or are contributing to the advancement of the wastewater profession.  This is not a self-nominating award.  Your peers count on you to recognize their achievements and nominate them.
5S Nomination Form

Gimmicks & Gadgets
Calling all innovative wastewater plant operators, mechanics or collection system professionals to submit your ingenious wastewater gimmick or gadget to CWEA’s Annual Gimmicks and Gadgets Awards Competition. Cash prizes!
Gimmicks & Gadgets Nomination Form

Golden Manhole
CWEA’s Golden Manhole award honors the inductees and their employers for their combined contributions which promote increased professionalism in the collection systems field. The winners are chosen by the Collection Systems committee.
Golden Manhole Nomination Form [Read more]

Below is the joint comment letter CWEA and CA NV AWWA have submitted focused on the operator certification piece of the DPR Report to the Legislature on the Feasibility of Developing Uniform Water Recycling Criteria for Direct Potable Reuse.

Dear State Water Resources Control Board:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the State Water Board’s Draft Report to the Legislature on the Feasibility of Developing Uniform Water Recycling Criteria for Direct Potable Reuse.

We appreciate the thorough and collaborative approach the State Water Board staff took in completing this report. The staff from the Division of Drinking Water demonstrated patience, support and thoroughness as they worked with water professionals, scientists, public health experts, the environmental community and the public to determine the feasibility of Direct Potable Reuse. The Division of Drinking Water’s thoughtful and careful process is a model water regulators from around the world can look to. State Water Board staff brought California’s drinking water and wastewater professionals together to work more closely and faster than ever before to solve the State’s complex water quality challenges. We thank the Division of Drinking Water staff for leading the effort and look forward to working with them to finalize regulations as quickly as possible while upholding our shared responsibilities of protecting the health and safety of all Californians.

CA-NV AWWA and CWEA wished to comment jointly on the recommendations in the report that relate to the need for Advanced Water Treatment (AWT) operator certification, providing a quick update on the status of our work together meeting that need and respectfully making some requests.

As you may know, the California-Nevada Section of the American Water Works Association is a nonprofit professional association of 6,000 members founded in 1920 – following the creation of AWWA in 1881. Our members are professionals primarily employed in the drinking water sector, with a sizable percentage also involved with wastewater collection and/or treatment. Historically connected closely with protecting public health in drinking water, our mission is providing solutions to effectively manage water, the world’s most important resource. CA-NV AWWA is a certifying body, offering 17 certificates of competency in 6 disciplines. This includes certifications for professionals engaged in drinking water treatment and distribution system operations, cross-connection and backflow prevention, laboratory analysis, and water use efficiency (conservation), among others. CA-NV AWWA led creation of treatment plant operator certification in the 1950s, then developed the distribution operator certification before it was assumed by the Department of Health Services in 1998. CA-NV AWWA has traditionally named members each year to serve as representatives on the Drinking Water Operator Stakeholder Advisory Committee, which is now undergoing some changes as AB 2890 is implemented.

The California Water Environment Association is a non-profit, public benefit professional association of 9,800 members founded 1927. Our members are professionals in the water, wastewater and resource recovery sectors. Our mission is to protect California’s water environment and public health through education and certification. CWEA is a certifying body, offering 24 certificates of competency in 7 vocations. This includes certifications for: Collection System Maintenance Technicians; Environmental Compliance Inspectors; Mechanical Technicians; Electrical Technicians and Laboratory professionals among others. CWEA developed the wastewater treatment plant operator certification in 1937 before transferring the program to the State Water Board’s Office of Operator Certification in 1974. CWEA appoints several of our members each year to serve as representatives on the State Water Board’s Wastewater Operator Certification Advisory Committee and the Environmental Laboratory Technical Advisory Committee. [Read more]

A 2017 total grant appropriation of $22,000 for the Kirt Brooks Memorial Water Environment Scholarship Fund has been approved and is now accepting applications.

The Scholarship Fund is a grant-making program for students who are engaged in the water environment field and who are members of CWEA or sponsored by CWEA members. This is an increase of 10% from 2016. Find out how to apply for a 2017 scholarship at

Applications are due on January 15, 2017.

Learn more about the Scholarship Fund and download an application form at

“This scholarship has tremendously supported me in numerous ways. The financial support definitely eased my graduate school tuition costs. More importantly, I was encouraged by many professionals at the award luncheon, which motivated me to continue my education, research and career in this field. This prestigious scholarship also inspired me to switch from my master to doctoral program. I am proud to list this scholar on my CV as one of my achievements which I believe has brought me other fellowships, scholarships and awards as well as my current position as environmental engineering faculty at CSU, Long Beach.” – Pitiporn Asvapathanagul, Ph.D., 2009 Recipient

Have you noticed? CWEA’s magazine, the Wastewater Professional has a new look!

Our most recent issue, the Member Value Report was distributed to all CWEA members earlier this month. Published by Kelman & Associates,  the new full color magazine is full of relevant information to keep CWEA Members informed on issues related to California’s Water Environment.

This publication and all future publications will also be available online. Take a look!

Have a story idea for the Wastewater Professional? E-mail Megan Barillo at

Your new Wastewater Professional’s advertising contact’s information is: Al Whalen - - 866.985.9782


Shannon Simmers, Environmental Compliance Inspector II, City of Riverside, CWEA P3S Executive Committee Vice-Chair

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) involved in the recent update of the Environmental Compliance Inspection (ECI) exam discuss what it takes to achieve a successful update. In this interview with Shannon Simmers, ECI II with the City of Riverside, Shannon explains her role in the process and the benefits to her profession she discovered along the way.

How did you get into this profession?

After a job displacement from my employment as a Quality Control Lab Technician (QCLT) and at a time when the unemployment numbers were outrageously high, I was encouraged to enter the wastewater field. I spent two years as a student at a local college and graduated with an AS in Water Science. At the same time, I spent a year and a half as a Wastewater Operator in Training at two different wastewater plants, without pay. During those few years, I became a Wastewater Operator II, Water Treatment Operator and Water Distribution Operator. While I was a Wastewater Operator in Training at the City of Riverside, I was fortunate enough to be hired on as an Environmental Compliance Inspector for the City. I feel that my previous employment experience, coupled with the experience I gained as a Wastewater Operator, have helped me in my professional journey to become an ECI. What I lack in experience, I am able to borrow from my certifications, relevant work history and education.

How did you first get involved in CWEA?

My first experience with the CWEA began at the urging of my friend and co-worker Abigail Gomez. As a new EC inspector, Abigail was one of the people who trained me on performing inspections in the field. I admired her diligence and conscientiousness, so, when she asked if I would like to join the P3S Executive Committee, I said ‘Sure, what is that?’ Off I went to my first breakfast meeting at the P3S conference in 2015, where I accepted the nomination to become the P3S Secretary. I had no clue what I had gotten myself into, but, looking back, I am glad I said yes. It has been a rewarding experience where I have been blessed to be a part of some challenging and exciting projects that have helped me along in my professional growth, as I gain new leadership skills, take on new challenges and establish relationships with other professionals in my field.

What was your role in the Environmental Compliance Inspector Exam update?

I started something I feel is important, not only to me, but to those I have encountered during my time with the P3S Executive Committee, which is having a role in the Environmental Compliance Inspector exam update. I feel I brought a unique aspect to a situation where I was at the table with several highly qualified individuals with valuable experience. Rather than being intimidated, I leaned on the fact that I represented many of the people who will be taking these exams in the future. I was a relatively new EC Inspector and had a bunch of study material and knowledge fresh in my mind, having recently passed the ECI exams along with my other certifications. I had the opportunity to provide input from the view of someone who is just beginning their career and to learn from those who I look to as mentors. The process involved a tremendous amount of research and studying that allowed me to expand my own knowledge. There was an enormous amount of discussions and correspondence, as we all came together for a common cause. Several face-to-face and go-to-meetings were held to revise the test and study guides. These meetings involved people from the North and the South, as well as from various agencies to ensure there was broad input on the revised ECI exam.

What is the hardest part of being a subject matter expert?

The hardest part about being a Subject Matter Expert is the feeling of responsibility to those future test takers. For me and the other SMEs, it was important to go over every single word, not just the question, to ensure it made sense, that it was applicable to the exam level and that it had one clear answer that could be sourced. The burden of being responsible for future test takers success or failure was sometimes overwhelming. This came through at times when I felt compelled to speak up on a question I had an issue with or to state my opinion on certain aspects of the test. It was highly emotional at times, as we all tried to do what was best for the exam and look past our biases or differences of opinions. At the end of the day, we could all agree the most important thing was to make the exam the best it could be. [Read more]

by Chris Lundeen, CAE, CWEA Director of Certification

CWEA Director of Certification, Chris Lundeen, sampling the end product at the Orange County Water District’s Advanced Water Purification Facility.

CWEA Director of Certification, Chris Lundeen, sampling the end product at the Orange County Water District’s Advanced Water Purification Facility.

As water scarcity continues to be a critical issue in California, utilities and regulators are looking toward new drinking water supplies and increased potable reuse. Over this past year, CWEA collaborated with California Urban Water Agencies (CUWA), along with other water reuse stakeholders, to develop a framework for training and certification needed for operators of potable reuse advanced water treatment (AWT) plants. It is important that training and certification of future AWT operators be robust, while ensuring that CWEA’s certified wastewater treatment plant operators have viable career paths through this newly emerging field. CWEA’s collaboration resulted in a whitepaper published by CUWA that was submitted to the State Water Board Division of Drinking Water Programs for consideration, as it prepares to review the upcoming Expert Panel recommendations on direct potable reuse (DPR) feasibility.

In a parallel effort, CWEA is working in collaboration with the California-Nevada Section of the American Water Works Association (CA-NV AWWA) on the development of a certification program for operators of potable reuse and other AWT systems. CWEA is still working out the exact details of the ongoing partnership with CA-NV AWWA, and, in the meantime, are making sure that CWEA’s wastewater community is front-and-center at the table and playing an active role in the development of this emerging certification program.

If you have experience with AWT and would like to participate in reviewing the knowledge domains that are being developed, contact Chris Lundeen at

by Jim Force

Direct potable reuse of recycled water would not only provide a new, local sustainable source of water for California communities, the move toward direct potable reuse (DPR) could serve to bring the wastewater and drinking water sides of the profession together, making the “One Water” concept a reality.

Those are some of the thoughts of Jim Fiedler, Chief Operating Officer for the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Water Utility Enterprise, on the State Water Resources Control Board draft report to the Legislature on the feasibility of developing regulations for DPR.

CWEA spoke with Fiedler about the draft report and the potential for DPR in California.

Q:  If you were to sum up the findings of the Board’s report on DPR, what would your elevator speech to a fellow water professionals be? 

Fiedler: First, I would point out that the report confirms that it is feasible to develop regulations that would lead to DPR in California.

Second, I’d want to thank Division of Drinking Water along with the Expert Panel and the Advisory Group for their leadership and dedication in completing the report within the timeframe set by the Legislature.

And third, I’d tell my colleagues that this is a great time to be a water or wastewater professional. It’s exciting that criteria (for DPR) will now be developed.

Q: What did you find unexpected about the Advisory Panel’s meetings or their findings? 

Fiedler: If anything, the diversity of the group. The Advisory Panel was composed of water professionals, NGOs, agencies–it was a good cross-mix of stakeholders. We held a number of meetings, and I was impressed with the thoughtful discussion.

Q: Is DPR in California’s near future? When will these things happen? 

Fiedler: I don’t know about near-term, but it’s closer today than it was 10 years ago. We’re seeing multi-year droughts and more uncertainty in the hydrologic cycle.  We recognize the need for sustainable local sources of water, as opposed to imported water as a key driver.

Research is another driver. The WateReuse Research Foundation (now Water Environment and Reuse Foundation) provided some of the research used by the Expert Panel and helped support the Expert Panel findings that it is feasible to develop and implement DPR criteria that would be protective of public health. [Read more]

EPA is initiating a national study focused on nutrient removal at municipal wastewater treatment plants, also called publicly owned treatment works (POTWs).

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is planning to submit an information collection request (ICR) for a mandatory survey, ‘‘Proposed Information Collection Request for the National Study of Nutrient Removal and Secondary Technologies: Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) Screener Questionnaire’’ (EPA ICR No. 2553.01, OMB Control No. 2040–NEW). Before submitting the ICR to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act, EPA is soliciting public comments on specific aspects of the proposed information collection as described below. An Agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

Comments must be submitted on or before November 18, 2016.
ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, referencing Docket ID No. EPA–HQ– OW–2016–0404 online using, by email to, Attention Docket ID No. EPA– HQ–OW–2016–0404, or by mail to: EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460.

View the background and draft questionnaire here.


Cindy Forbes, Division of Drinking Water, State Water Board

State Water Board staff has rolled out the draft report on direct potable reuse (DPR) here in California. It’s technically feasible, but challenging to implement they’ve said. It’s a report the Legislature required the staff to complete by January 1, 2017. The State is welcoming public comments on the draft until October 25th.

The draft report was produced by staff from the Division of Drinking Water (DDW) and their Recycled Water office. The report plus two addendums run close to 600 pages and spell out in detail several years of research and analysis by staff members, academics, public health experts and water professionals. It was a monumental undertaking, completed on-time and with the collaboration of hundreds of people across the water sector.

It’s been a busy two years for DDW. In 2014 the Division was moved from the Department of Public Health to the State Water Board. They’re in the process of working with small, disadvantaged water systems to improve drinking water quality during the drought. And they’re finalizing a report and regulations this year on Surface Water Augmentation – a process where high-purity reuse water is added to reservoirs.

We recently had a chance to interview DDW’s leader Cindy Forbes about DPR. Cindy is a drinking water expert with 30 years of experience working for the State on drinking water programs.

1.  First – how does the Division of Drinking Water define DPR – what is it and why are we going through this process?

DDW is undertaking the process of investigating the feasibility of developing uniform water recycling criteria for DPR to address requirements imposed by statute (SB 918 and SB 322), which are incorporated into the Water Code (sections 13560-13569).

DPR is defined by statute as “the planned introduction of recycled water either directly into a public water system, as defined in Section 116275 of the Health and Safety Code, or into a raw water supply immediately upstream of a water treatment plant.”

The Expert Panel, which has been tasked with advising DDW on the public health issues and the scientific and technical aspects of DPR, has further indicated they consider an environmental buffer with a theoretical hydraulic retention time of less than 2 months to be DPR.

2.  What happens next for your Division?

The public comment period ends October 25 at noon, and DDW will review the public comments, consider revisions to the Draft Report, and prepare a final draft report for review by the State Water Board, CalEPA, and the Governor’s Office before submittal of the final report to the Legislature by December 31, 2016.

In the meantime, DDW will begin the process of refining the implementation plan, scope out the work needed to accomplish the milestones in the implementation plan, and in the near future implement the plan to address the identified research needs and fill the knowledge gaps in the development of uniform water recycling criteria for DPR.

[Read more]

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board) has entered into a settlement agreement with the city of Compton over the alleged discharge of raw sewage and other pollutants into Compton Creek for a period of approximately three years.

For the alleged discharges of untreated sewage to waters of the United States, Compton is liable for a civil penalty of $268,365. The city must also complete capital improvement and sewer master plan projects on its sanitary sewer system.

The Regional Water Board alleges that on at least eight different occasions, from December 2010 to October 2013, Compton experienced sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) that released pollutants and untreated sewage into Compton Creek. The Regional Water Board also alleges the city failed to report three of the eight SSOs as required. Untreated sewage can contain pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella, parasites, viruses and rotavirus that are harmful to public health. Discharges of untreated sewage to water bodies can also impact aquatic life and result in closed beaches.

“We continue to work to improve the older sewer systems in our region, such as Compton’s, that pose serious threats to public health and the environment,” said Samuel Unger, Regional Water Board executive officer. “The action we’ve taken against Compton, and other municipalities in our region that have faced similar issues, will help the city reduce its risk for sewage spills by upgrading infrastructure and putting protocols in place to guard against overflows. These upgrades will help reduce the amount of spills and protect the community and surrounding waterways.”

As part of the settlement agreement, Compton will pay $161,019 of the civil penalty to the State Water Pollution Cleanup and Abatement Account. The remaining $107,346 will be suspended if the city follows through on several projects to upgrade and monitor Compton’s sanitary sewer system. Those projects include initial and ongoing video analysis of the sewer system to identify areas where repair and upgrading is needed; inspecting the sewer system for hot spots every 90 days and performing maintenance and repairs as necessary; supplying quarterly progress reports to the Regional Water Board; implementing a root control program; hiring two new full-time staff and certifying all staff in collection system maintenance; reporting all SSOs to the Regional Board and other requirements.

To learn more about the settlement agreement and details related to the upgrade and maintenance projects, see the settlement agreement on the Regional Water Board’s enforcement website.

An engineering bootcamp to help you with reading, designing and understanding process & instrumentation diagrams.

As environmental inspectors, engineers, and planners we review IU plans on a daily basis. This training provides the skills needed to understand the process and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs) in such plans. The goal is to learn how to read and properly interpret the standard set of P&ID symbols and protocols.

The training is offered in partnership with the LA Trade Technical College by Dr. Virgil Shields. Dr. Shield teaches physics, process technology and P&ID topics. He has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and over 35 years of technical experience in laboratory and industrial operations, manufacturing, project management and quality assurance inspections, aerospace R&D, and university laboratory R&D program operations.

P3S Conference-logo-Final copy-01CWEA P3S Committee Meeting
Free Lunch & Networking at the City of Los Angeles Industrial Waste Management Division.
Tuesday, Oct. 25
9:00 am – 1:30 pm

RSVP by email at by October 21.

Attendance to the training is in-person only. The training is not available via webcast.


CWEA Member Beverli Marshall, General Manager of Sewer Authority Mid-Coastside was recently quoted in the Daily Journal about the recycled water treatment plant project in Half Moon Bay. Part of a collaboration between the city of Half Moon Bay, the Coastside County Water District and the Sewer Authority Mid-Coastside, which serves about 30,000 people from Half Moon Bay, El Granada, Miramar, Montara, Moss Beach and Princeton.

Although a treatment plant was initially considered almost a decade ago, the years-long drought may be bolstering renewed interest in making the most of the scarce resource.

“As all things in California, when water is plentiful we don’t always plan ahead. So I think the drought is bringing it up again; how important it is to use whatever resources we have more effectively. So that is, perhaps, why the conversation is starting up again. But the water industry as a whole, has always been looking at how do we use this valuable resource,” said Beverli Marshall, general manager of the sewer authority.

Under a joint powers agreement, a recycled water treatment plant would be located next to the sewage treatment plant on the authority’s Half Moon Bay property. The water district would be responsible for a conveyance system and selling as well as distributing the treated reuse to customers.

Ideally, the plant operations will be flexible enough to reduce output when demand is lower, Marshall said.

This week, the Half Moon Bay City Council agreed to offer up more money to fund the initial 25 percent design phase that will help determine the financial feasibility of treating recycled water on the coast.

Go to the full article here.

Operators of the water reclaim plant in a California prison devise a creative solution to provide denitrification and meet effluent standards for off-grounds discharge.

The four inmate operators of a water reclamation plant at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi faced a dilemma. Working with plant flows and influent BOD well below the original plant design levels, they could not denitrify well enough to meet a 10 mg/L total nitrogen permit limit for discharge to customers off the facility grounds.

Working together, and under the supervision of three state-employed operators and a contract chief plant operator, they developed a creative solution to the problem that enabled the facility to resume delivering reuse water to customers during a severe drought when demand for reclaimed water was high.

As of last summer, the plant was meeting its requirements for discharge off the grounds and was meeting the needs of water customers. “There is no greater feeling than knowing we were able to come up with a solution together,” Says Keith Fredrickson, the lead inmate operator at the Tehachapi correctional facility who provided most of the information for this story. He holds a Grade III Wastewater Operator license (second highest) and has passed his Grade IV exam. He also holds T2 Water Treatment and D2 Water Distribution licenses.

“As an inmate, this is the best job I ever had. Most prison jobs involve performing menial tasks, such as preparing food or basic janitorial work. I had a job that allowed me to contribute something significant to the institution and its community. The plant had a legitimate problem. My co-workers and I were asked to think like operators. We poured our heart and soul into finding a solution, and then it finally came.”

Fredrickson notes that he and his fellow inmate operators all expect to be paroled by the end of 2017 or sooner. He says, “We are all excited about the prospect of starting our own careers in the water and wastewater industry.”

Source: Inmate Ingenuity Solves Nitrate Problem at California Correctional Institution

CWEA Member Richard G. Luthy provides an op-ed via Water Deeply on The Price of Water Conservation – Using Less and Paying More

Many people have seen their water rates go up as they conserve more, but it doesn’t have to be this way, writes Richard G. Luthy, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University.

Payments to water utilities don’t just pay for the water itself. That revenue also pays for people, technology and other infrastructure to ensure our water is available, safe to consume and delivered where – and when – we need it. Where I live, domestic water is imported from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and only about 35 percent of my water bill goes toward purchase of the water itself. The rest covers local operations such as maintenance and capital improvements to the reservoirs, miles of pipes and other facilities that convey drinkable water from the Sierra to my faucets.

Go to full story.