The California Water Environment Association (CWEA) announced the winners of its 2016 awards program at its Annual Conference in Palm Springs on April 28.  Congratulations to these agencies and individuals leading the way in the protection and enhancement of our water environment.

Established in 1929, CWEA’s awards program has grown to acknowledge outstanding achievement in more than 20 categories honoring exceptional California water environment professionals, collection systems, and treatment plants.  Categories include Plant of the Year, Collection System of the Year, Public Education Program of the Year as well as awards of individual professionals in various vocations. The program seeks to recognize outstanding achievements within the water environment field, improve the professional status of all personnel working in the field, and stimulate public awareness of the importance of wastewater treatment to public health and the water environment.

Nominations that advance through CWEA’s 17 local sections’ awards programs are eligible to compete statewide. Congratulations to the nominees to the 2016 awards program for their diligent work to keep California’s water clean and workforce strong. 

CWEA officers are available to make a presentation to CWEA award recipients at agency board or City Council meetings. Please contact Victoria Thornton  at vthornton@cwea.org or (510) 382-7800 x 113.

Photos by Ddaze Phuong, Orange County Sanitation District, Ralph Palomares, El Cerrito Wastewater District and Julayne Luu. Thank you for capturing these moments!
AC17 Awards


Special thanks to California based Coombs-Hopkins Company the lead supporter for the CWEA Awards Program.

Coombs-Hopkins sponsorship will allow CWEA to continue upgrading and improving our awards program, including working with CWEA’s technical committees to streamline the nomination process as needed.

 

 

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About this series:  Each month CWEA is interviewing an innovative water thinker. We’re asking each person “The future of the water profession is …”

Howard Brewen
Water Resource Recovery Facility Superintendent
Public Utilities
City of San Luis Obispo

Howard Brewen took the road less traveled to his position as superintendent of the Water Resource Recovery Facility for the City of San Luis Obispo.  Raised on his family’s ranch in north San Luis Obispo County, he followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, obtaining his trainer’s license, issued by the California Horse Racing Board, at the young age of sixteen.  He was accepted to UC Davis, achieving a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science. 

To pay for his schooling, Howard put his trainer’s license to good use:  he purchased a seasoned race horse that had fallen by the wayside, rehabilitated him, and raced him each summer on the state’s fair circuit, earning enough money to pay the following year’s tuition. 

Howard built on his success on the fair circuit, expanding his racehorse stable to the major tracks in northern and southern California, eventually managing sixty horses and thirty employees.

After 20 years of big city life, Howard wanted to get back to his roots and returned to rural living in Paso Robles where he tried something completely different: a nine-month temporary position with the City of San Luis Obispo in its Wastewater Collections department. The only stipulation was that he commit to the full nine-month term.

“I found myself sitting in a wastewater collection ditch, listening to other more experienced operators talk about the challenges associated with this industry.  I realized that I had the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way to the public sector.  This is an important industry filled with really great people.”

Howard began keeping journals and memoirs of his work experience, saving them for the day when he would have the opportunity to help improve the methods and processes used in the industry.  At the end of his temporary contract, he was hired as a permanent full-time employee in Wastewater Collections, obtaining a Grade 3 Certification.  After two and a half years in Collections, Howard transferred to the Water Reclamation Facility (later renamed the Water Resource Recovery Facility) where he worked his way up to a Grade 5 Wastewater Treatment Operator Certification, eventually being hired as Facility Superintendent.

Howard is also a long-time CWEA volunteer serving this year on the annual conference Educational Program Team.

What do you believe is the future of the water profession?

I absolutely believe to my core that this is the most exciting time ever to be in water.  Who wouldn’t want to be a water professional?  It’s such an exciting time because a myriad of factors and information have come together, and aligned, and the public is becoming more aware of the importance of water.

We have a series of opportunities, not challenges, ahead of us.  The unique set of circumstances such as the drought, infrastructure awareness, and safe drinking water have all led to a public awareness of water that did not exist before.

But we’re moving from a time of having separate processes for water and wastewater.  There is only one water cycle and we are moving to the point of having only one water profession; one that will encompass all aspects of the water cycle.

Potable reuse is a tremendous opportunity.  That train has left the station and is gaining momentum.  It is up to those of us in water to take new innovations and technologies and understand how to adapt those to this industry in a timely manner.  We have to get beyond the traditional fifteen years it usually takes to implement ‘new’ technologies. 

The huge retirement numbers we are facing is another opportunity.  First of all, we need to find a way to retain the knowledge currently being carried around in all of these brains.  Second, we need to know what kind of person we need to hire, not for just right now, but to hire the skill set that we’re going to need for three to five years down the line.  It is important not to just hire the same as we have done in the past.

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Is your Operations and Maintenance (O&M) team feeling overloaded and struggling to prioritize work orders? Maybe you see the need for more strategic approach to maintenance? This workshop provides an in-depth look at asset management philosophies used by many wastewater agencies across the country. The system is known as reliability centered maintenance, or RCM, and provides strategies for managing maintenance priorities.

Learn from some of California’s leading wastewater O&M experts during these interactive workshops. Get a jump on managing your facility’s assets by learning the latest trends and techniques and listening to real-world case studies.

Earn up to 6.5 CWEA contact hours towards Industrial Waste Treatment Operator, Mechanical Technologist, Electrical & Instrumentation, Collection System Maintenance.

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