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:

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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.”

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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.

Haaker_logo_final_RBGProfessional certification enhances organizational competencies, increases public confidence, demonstrates commitment to the profession, and is important to professional development and career advancement. The water quality sector is no exception to the explosive growth in professional certification being seen across all sectors. CWEA certifies over 5,000 wastewater professionals in California.

Haaker Equipment Company, a manufacturer of equipment and parts in the municipal, industrial and contractor sectors, has signed up to become the lead supporter for CWEA’s Certification Program for 2016. Haaker’s sponsorship will allow CWEA to continue providing certification programs that are relevant and responsive to the needs of employers and water quality professionals.

“We are proud to partner with the CWEA and believe that the strong base of our industry comes from the professional development opportunities that are available. At Haaker Equipment Company we believe that our people are the most valuable part of our business, and we encourage our team to always look for their own opportunities to learn more and to demonstrate their commitment and achievements through professional certification.  Therefore, partnering with the CWEA in this area was an easy choice.”   -Robin Haaker, Vice President Business Development

CWEA offers certification in 7 water quality occupations at various levels. Exams are developed and revised on a regular basis by highly qualified water quality practitioners who are experts in their fields. Candidates are tested on their knowledge skills and abilities at over 100 computer-based testing centers in California, Michigan, Hawaii, Missouri, and Alaska. Tests can be scheduled on almost any day and results are given right after the test. Certificates of competence are issued to candidates who successfully pass the exam and meet experience and education requirements.

[Read more]

Flint Crisis Spurs National Dialogue, Water Sector Responds 

The unfolding drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan continues to receive significant national media attention, and serves as an important reminder to all Americans about the fundamental importance of safe and reliable water treatment.  As the facts in Flint continue to unfold, all can agree that the residents of Flint deserve much better and that there was a core breakdown in what should have been a local-state-federal partnership aimed at protecting the residents of Flint and the basic access to safe water.

NACWA applauds the response by both the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA) to the Flint situation.  AWWA’s recent statement to the press and the messages both organizations have conveyed to the media and their members have been measured and effective.  They have done an excellent job explaining both the uniqueness of the Flint crisis but also the need to address the affordability and investment challenges that exist in Flint and in urban and rural communities across the country – especially those with declining populations.

“It may be some time before all the facts surrounding Flint are understood. However, there are a few lessons that seem apparent. First, water chemistry is complex. When a community changes water sources or water treatment, unintended consequences can occur. Water systems must be alert to these potential issues and have plans in place to address them.”  See the full Statement from AWWA CEO David LaFrance concerning Flint water quality crisis and the full story from NACWA. Go to full story.

CWEA has joined the California Product Stewardship Council and 100s of organizations to ask the FDA to stop telling the public to flush medications.

In a letter to the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the FDA is urged to end its “flush list” recommendation, and work to create a single disposal guidance that is endorsed by all federal agencies and consistently used on all federal websites and materials using the following clear messages on safe medicine disposal:

1. To protect water quality, never flush unwanted medicine down any drain.
2. Use a community medicine take-back program for secure and safe medicine disposal. Check with local household hazardous waste, wastewater, or police departments for locations. Use the medicine manufacturer’s mail-back program if available.
3. Take leftover medicines to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s twice a year National Prescription Drug Take-back Days. Look for a site in your community at or contact your police department.
4. As a last resort, if there are no medicine take-back options in your community: put medicines in a sealed container in the trash after mixing the medicines with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds. Make sure the trash cannot be accessed by children, pets, or others who might be looking in garbage. Check with your local government or garbage service first, because local laws may not allow disposing of any pharmaceuticals in the trash.

To review a copy of the letter sent to the FDA that includes clear messaging suggestions for adoption on safe medicine disposal, please visit

An article recently published in the Press Enterprise discusses how lead pipes are found across the nation and some cities have started million dollar programs to replace these pipes.

Lead pipes are predominantly found in older neighborhoods, especially in the East and Midwest, because most cities stopped installing them in the 1930s. The pipes carry water from main lines under the streets and into homes.

Estimates vary on how many of these pipes are still in use. A survey just completed by the American Water Works Association puts the number at 6.5 million. Inside homes, lead can also be found in faucets and in the solder that is used to join water pipes, but that is considered a less serious concern.

To stop lead from seeping into tap water, chemicals to protect the pipes are commonly added to the water during the treatment process. Some utilities also adjust the composition of their water to limit its corrosiveness.

Go to the full article.

On October 20, 2015, the City of Tulelake (City) held a groundbreaking ceremony for their Wastewater Project (Project). The Project will assist the City in complying with Cease and Desist Order (CDO) No. R1‐ 2013‐0030, dated June 13, 2013. The City’s violations are primarily related to coliform, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), total suspended solids (TSS), and chlorine residual. The CDO requires the City to complete a compliance project that will eliminate surface water discharge. The project will rehabilitate the existing wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and construct a new recycled water storage and reuse system. The City is working with Adkins Engineering and Integrated Water Systems to dredge accumulated sludge from its two treatment lagoons, convert existing sand filters to a combined third treatment lagoon, construct two recycled water storage ponds, and develop the adjacent fi eld for crop irrigation.

The City is located alongside the Oregon border in Northeastern Siskiyou County, with a population of approximately 1,035 people. As a small (population less than 20,000 persons), severely disadvantaged (median household income [MHI] less than 60% of the statewide MHI) community with wastewater rates greater than 1.5% of the community’s MHI, the City received a 100% principal forgiveness/grant of $6 million through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program.

The City has overcome many hurdles over the last 10+ years to get the Project to construction. City Mayor Henry Ebinger states, “It has been a pleasure to work with a State agency that goes well out of their way to assist a small, rural community like ours.” The City also received a Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to purchase the land needed for agronomic reuse.