If you walk into the City of Santa Cruz Wastewater Treatment Plant it won’t take long to run into someone from the Locatelli family.  Forrest, his brother Al and their cousin John are all members of the maintenance team and their first cousin James is a lead worker on a sewer line maintenance crew.  The family never planned to come together inside the wastewater profession – it’s a bit of a coincidence and a reflection of economic changes in this beautiful seaside city.

For several decades Forrest and Al worked in some of Santa Cruz’s largest industrial facilities, including in the sprout packaging, canneries and at the Wrigley chewing gum factory, but as those factories packed up and left, the Locatellis looked for a career that was more stable.  They worked on farms, before stumbling across job openings for a mechanic at the wastewater treatment plant.

“I saw the City was looking for a mechanic in 1996 when they were building the secondary treatment system,” Al said. “Lots of people were applying. I think what made the difference for me is my experience – I started out in the high school shop class and built my skills through decades of maintenance work.”

His brother Forrest and cousin John followed Al and joined the city a few years later. There’s something special about the work performed by the Santa Cruz maintenance team – most of the work is done in-house, including extensive rebuilds of machinery, digesters and upgrading equipment to be more efficient. The team takes great pride in their work and makes sure they build quality and reliability into each project. You can see the pride they take in their work as you walk around the facility.

They’ve been featured in wastewater magazines including a recent profile in Treatment Plant Operator.  Coworkers praise the Locatellis for their skill and dedication.

We interviewed brothers Al and Forrest and their cousin James on a bright, beautiful day in Santa Cruz as we toured the plant looking at some of their handy work.

One of their goals is to replace the corroding steel pipelines in the plant with stainless steel pipe that will last longer. Forrest is the expert fabricator and his stainless steel welds sparkle like diamonds in the sunlight as we walk around. Hundreds of shiny welds in thousands of feet of pipe were laid out throughout the plant.

[Read more]

Ed McCormick, Past President of WEF gives us important reasons to attend the WEF/AWWA Utility Management Conference.
  1. Why is a national utility managers conference important for California water professionals?

The reason this conference is important is it brings together several hundred water leaders and managers from across the continent where they can network and exchange knowledge with one another. Water leaders need to be here – this is the best conference focused on water utility leaders.

Ed McCormick, WEF Immediate Past President

Ed McCormick, WEF Immediate Past President

It also brings together a wide cross section of leaders in one place – drinking water, wastewater, recycled water and stormwater. This is truly a place where we’re looking towards integrated water management.

  1. Why host it here in California?

Other states have experienced droughts and ground water decline before we did. This conference is a chance to learn from each other about how to build water resource resiliency.

Some of the most exciting water technologies and innovations are happening outside of California. Those water innovators are coming to this conference to share what they’ve learned. You’ll learn good, practical knowledge about how to become a better manager for your utility.

The reality is there’s a sea-change going on within the world of water. We are moving to – and really accelerating toward – water resource recovery. This conference will cover how to lead your utility forward into the utility of the future.

The big change is thinking of a utility as a green factory – we have products that will benefit the community and recovering those resources can be a strong benefit for the bottomline. Across the US and Canada we’re seeing this change in thinking spreading rapidly.

If you’re a member of a utility’s executive management team or a consultant or a manufacturer – you can’t find a more valuable network of leaders than at the Utility Management Conference. There will be hundreds of utility leaders all in one place.

  1. Who should attend the Utility Management Conference?

Utility managers who are looking for great ideas. If you’re searching for ways to become more cost effective and how to move to the Utility of the Future, the UMC is the conference for you.

I think this is also a great conference if you’re moving into a leadership position – here’s an opportunity to learn from the best in the business and start to build connections with other leaders. [Read more]

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials recently announced more than $182 million in federal funding that will be funneled to drinking water and wastewater infrastructure improvements throughout California.

The federal money goes into the California Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which provides low-interest loans to local water districts for projects that will reduce pollution, improve drinking water, and increase efficiency. As districts repay the loans, that money becomes available for new water projects.

The city of San Diego is in line to receive roughly $9 million in loans to help pay for a sewer pipeline rehabilitation project and a new Sorrento Mesa recycled water pipeline. The city also recently used loans from the program to upgrade its Metro Biosolids Center, which takes solids from area wastewater treatment plants and turns it into fertilizer for parks, gardens and agricultural crops. [Read more]

The 2016 California Financing Coordinating Committee (CFCC) has announced six FREE upcoming funding fairs (see PDF). 

CFCC agencies fund primarily the following types of infrastructure projects:

  • Drinking water
  • Wastewater
  • Water quality
  • Water supply
  • Water conservation
  • Water use efficiency
  • Energy efficiency


April 13, 2016 **
Sacramento County Sanitation
10060 Goethe Rd
Sacramento, CA 95827

** The Sacramento workshop will be webcast. Access link will be on the CFCC website at: http://www.cfcc.ca.gov/funding_fairs.htm
[Read more]

Los Angeles resident and blogger Alissa Walker recently posted this story about Flint’s lead problem. She raises excellent points about the aging infrastructure, EPA regulations and why she still drinks from the tap.

Lead is a tricky contaminant because it’s everywhere: in our pipes, in our plumbing, in our faucets. There is no “safe” level. But the biggest concern, from a drinking water perspective, are old service lines—not just the city’s pipes, but residential ones, too. In 1991, the EPA instituted something called the Lead and Copper Rule, which established new regulations for detecting and removing lead and copper in drinking water. (The EPA didn’t comment by publication time for this story.) However, even with these rigorous guidelines, it turns out these regulations aren’t always being followed.

Lead poisoning the drinking water of Flint is the worst possible disaster. It’s a breakdown of urban systems that could’ve been avoided. It’s an instance of smarmy politicians lying to their constituents. It’s one of the scariest stories I’ve had to write about in some time. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust the water coming out of your tap.

Hearing Flint residents talk about undergoing blood draws to test for lead, and being counseled on how to stay healthy after long-term lead exposure, is devastating. When I learned that parents are still too afraid of contamination to bathe their kids, I wasn’t surprised—when will they not be?

Then I started to worry, too. As an American, a new mom, and an evangelical drinker of Los Angeles’s finest, I had to know: Is my hyper-optimistic allegiance to tap water misguided in light of what we’ve seen in Flint?

I spent a week trying to figure this out, and the short answer is no. But you should have some basic information about where your water comes from and how your city is testing it.

Last year I wrote a story that begged Americans to stop drinking bottled water. It hinges upon the fact that we have some of the cleanest, safest water anywhere on the planet:

Clean, safe drinking water that flows freely out of our faucets is a feat of engineering that humans have been been perfecting for two millennia. It is a cornerstone of civilization. It is what our cities are built upon. And over the years the scientists and hydrologists and technicians who help get water to our houses have also become our environmental stewards, our infrastructural watchdogs, our urban visionaries. Drinking the water these people supply to our homes is the best possible way to protect future access to water worldwide.

Read her full story here.

CWEA member Joanna De Sa featured in Monterey Bay Herald last week as an unsung hero who puts the “bowl” in Super Bowl.

Plant manager Joanna de Sa describes the function of the head works at the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility in San Jose on Jan. 21. (Patrick Tehan — Bay Area News Group)

The workers at the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility – have the responsibility of tackling the spike in wastewater surging through the facility from the staggering number of near-simultaneous mid-game toilet flushes from many among the 70,000 or so Levi’s attendees, on top of the million-plus area TV viewers hustling to relieve themselves and avoid missing any action.

“Nobody knows about us when we do our job right,” said Kerrie Romanow, director of environmental services for the City of San Jose, which operates the plant. “But it’s exciting. It’s the Super Bowl, a half-mile away.”

Indeed, standing on top of one of the 40-foot-high digester silos – where anaerobic bacteria break down assorted sludge, producing methane that provides 70 percent of the plant’s power needs – the stadium is in clear line of sight across Highway 237.

Read the full article as posted in the Monterey Bay Herald here.

SWRCB_Logo1[1]Please find below a quick survey request for entities managing wastewater facilities and collection systems. The State Water Board is soliciting feedback through this short six question online survey, responses due by Friday, February 12 at noon. The link is here:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9LRJRRP

[Read more]

DCWaterLogoDC Water and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) have signed an agreement to develop a National Green Infrastructure Certification Program aimed at promoting skilled individuals who will install, inspect, and maintain green infrastructure (GI) systems. In addition, the program will help support community-based job creation in U.S. cities, and establish national standards for professionals seeking to work on GI projects.

This joint effort will support DC Water’s recently announced legal agreement to construct large-scale GI to help control combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in the District of Columbia. The agreement was an amendment to a 2005 Consent Decree between DC Water and the District of Columbia, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Justice, and is the basis for DC Water’s $2.6 billionDC Clean Rivers Project. In an average year of rainfall, DC Water’s Clean Rivers Project will decrease the city’s CSO volume by 96 percent to the area’s primary waterways.
In addition to helping reduce CSOs, GI practices (such as bioretention or rain gardens, pervious pavement, rain barrels, and green roofs) can provide triple-bottom-line (environmental, social, and economic) benefits to the District and other cities nationwide. DC Water is committed to developing an ambitious local jobs creation program that includes GI training and certification opportunities for District residents. DC Water has established a goal to have 51 percent of new jobs created by the GI project filled by District residents and will also engage professional service firms and contractors based in the District for associated projects.
“Today’s agreement with WEF is a critical step forward for DC Water’s ambitious GI program,” said DC Water CEO and General Manager George S. Hawkins. “Establishing a national certification program will ensure DC residents are prepared to work not only on DC Water projects, but it also positions them to benefit from the greater GI industry that is growing nationally.”

[Read more]

Karen Kubik, WEF Board member

Karen Kubik, WEF Board member

Karen Kubick, PE
Wastewater Enterprise Capital Program Director
San Francisco PUC
Value of WEF Membership Questions

“It’s so important for professionals in our sector to make connections, and WEF enables me to establish a peer group that stretches across the nation. I love WEF!”

1. How has WEF membership benefitted you and your career at SFPUC?
I joined in 1989, and one of my first experiences was presenting at the WEFTEC conference in San Francisco and I loved it! Throughout my career WEF has played an essential role – I’ve participated on several committees including working on the water reuse committee, and I attend WEFTEC every year.
WEF enables me to establish a peer group that stretches across the nation and across many disciplines – operations, finance, communications, and capital projects. It’s been wonderful for me and it’s turned out to be one of the most important groups that I’ve had the opportunity to join that enhances my career development.
In addition to networking, I think all the resources WEF brings to its membership are also important – such as, WEFCOM (online community); insider reports on critical issues; educational webinars, and technical publications.

2. What is the value of WEFTEC – WEF’s annual conference?
I think WEFTEC is a significant part of the association – it’s a chance to meet people from around the world, get to know them, and share ideas; more specifically a chance to spend time with your peer group and discuss common issues. The program is wonderful every year. Few people realize how big our sector is until they see WEFTEC – the sheer scale of it can be overwhelming and simultaneously inspiring.
WEF is staying ahead of industry trends and there are always so many interesting things going on at WEFTEC. All year long we’re preparing for the conference – from the ‘call for papers’ to getting our folks connected at WEFTEC. There are so many great SFPUC initiatives and WEFTEC is our opportunity to share them with other agencies.
We send representatives from a variety of backgrounds and departments and they’re all at WEFTEC working their angle. Some are there to see equipment and meet with the manufacturers or to discuss issues with them; while others attend to give talks, participate in workshops and network.
Everything is there at WEFTEC – all in one place. It represents where our industry is going. The new ideas, the new technologies – how people are tackling the challenges we face. If it is happening in our industry you’re going to see it at WEFTEC. [Read more]

In New Hampshire, the City of Keene worked with local high school students to create a music video for “Don’t Flush That,” a song featuring a manhole superhero and set to the tune of Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac.”

Story posted in Water Online
By Artun Ereren

Every weekday morning at about 9:00 a.m., hopeful water professionals get the latest job posting from Brown and Caldwell, the go-to website for water industry job openings. By around lunchtime that same day, one maintenance worker position gets roughly 100 to 200 views. Before you could ponder about whether the job is the right one or not, that position is probably filled either within the agency or by an individual who has been counting the days for that same posting. Even though a career in the water industry may sound obscure to most, it is surprisingly difficult to get that foot in the door. Aside from the demand created by California’s historic drought, millennials are enticed by the idea that there will be a mass retirement of California water operators in the coming years. Yet many of my peers aren’t getting interviews or landing that job, despite acquiring all the necessary certifications. So what gives?

Word has been going around that water utilities will experience a “brain drain,” or a mass exodus of talent from the field, for quite some time; veterans say a mass retirement has been expected for “the last 20 years.” Operators that have been working 30-plus years are getting closer to retirement, so why is it still difficult to replace those positions? I spoke with Stephen McLean, the dean of Santiago Canyon College’s Water Utility Science program. McLean has nearly 40 years of experience in the water industry and has hired a couple hundred operators into the workforce. Simply put, I learned that this current generation doesn’t have the same mechanical acumen as the generation before. The crucial ability to sense when motors are operating properly is developed over years and years of experience. That mechanical sixth sense is something that you can’t teach a young adult overnight. [Read more]

Biannual Arleen Navarret Award goes to Karri Ving, SFPUC

BACWA congratulates Karri Ving, recipient of the 2016 Arleen Navarret Award. Karri has been a major force in leading the SFPUC to develop a learning culture around the concept of resource recovery. This award was created in honor of Arleen Navarret because of her commitment to the clean water community and dedication to improving the health of the San Francisco Bay. The award is granted to emerging leaders in BACWA’s community, and is intended to further the professional development of the awardee.  Karri was presented the award at BACWA’s Annual Member’s Meeting in January.

WERF is conducting a national survey about integrated planning for wastewater and stormwater for communities. The survey results will be used to develop a Users’ Guide to help communities obtain regulatory support for truly cost-effective and implementable plans that achieve commensurate environmental and public health improvements for ratepayer investments.

WERF needs one response from each community, and encourages you to designate a point-of-contact to complete the online survey. Before completing the online survey, we suggest that you review the survey questions.

With water becoming a precious commodity, attitudes toward reuse are shifting

As populations surge and water stresses increase, societies are coming to realize the true value of water. This includes the necessity to conserve water resources and protect water quality. In the same regard, industries increasingly are understanding the significance of reliable water supplies and the risks that come with water shortage.

WE&T magazine recently published the State of the Industry quoting CEO of Katz & Associates (San Diego) Sara Katz who will be speaking at the CWEA P3S Conference on March 1st – Building a Reservoir of Goodwill with Your Community In Order To Get Support for Upcoming Projects.

“Many in the water industry have been working diligently over the last several years to reshape the discussion on water reuse,” said Sara Katz, founder and CEO of Katz & Associates (San Diego), a national firm specializing in issues-based communication programs. “In California, which is currently in the fourth year of an unprecedented drought, water shortage is becoming more of the norm versus the exception. Industries and communities are now realizing that they have to modify the way water is used — no longer can we use this resource only once before discharging.”

Her firm is involved with San Diego’s multiyear potable reuse program to use proven water purification technology to eventually produce one-third of San Diego’s drinking water supply.

Download the complete WE&T State of the Industry section for January’16.

Bonnarens-Maura_cropMaura Bonnarens of East Bay Municipal Utility District and CWEA Past President (’07-’08) has recently been promoted to Manager of Wastewater Treatment Division.

After working in engineering consulting for over 15 years in an array of technical roles, Maura joined the District in 2000 as a staff engineer in the Recycled Water Program, followed by 6 years supervising Wastewater Planning. Most recently, over the past 8 years, Maura has developed and supervised a new Wastewater Plant Engineering group where she has led numerous O&M support activities including overseeing the Wastewater Department’s Emergency Preparedness Program, developing the Department’s Asset Management Program, and an ongoing effort to optimize the DCS system.