Waterwork – Fall 2019

The Chair’s Corner

Catherine Curtis – SFPUC
BAYWORK Chair

It is a great honor to become the Chair of Baywork. I have worked with Baywork since its inception with Cheryl Davis in 2009 and I am committed to BAYWORK’s success. We are now in our 10th year!!!

We are off to a running start this fiscal year, beginning with presentations on Baywork and the Digitalization of Water at the WEF/AWWA Transformative Issues Symposium in Washington DC, followed by a talk at the AWWA Michigan State Conference in September. We offered our certification test prep workshops at EBMUD in September in partnership with the Bay Area Consortium of Water and Wastewater Educational (BACWWE), held a successful Workshop on Wheels (WOW) in the North Bay in October and are presented our Training Buffet at EBMUD in November.

This year our workshop theme is digitalization and we have distributed a digital survey to our signatory agencies and attendees at the Washington symposium. If your utility has not received a survey, please let us know. We will be using the results to analyze various tools and best practices and to identify case studies to highlight at our Digitalization Workshop in the spring. This is cutting edge work in our industry and Baywork will be on the forefront.

We also have a webinar scheduled for January on Apprenticeship Development and Lessons Learned by Sherri Jones, from Charlotte Water in North Carolina.

Additionally, we are upgrading our website to allow people to access it and navigate the site on whatever device they are using. We must walk our talk with digitalization.
Finally, we are in the process of recruiting people for committees and subcommittees. Baywork has been a grass roots organization and we survive on in-kind services. If you are interested in being part of the planning and making sure your utility’s voice is heard, please join one of our committees.

Candidate Development and Outreach [Awareness, Recruitment and Training] – contact Steve Currie (steven.currie@ebmud.com) or Linda Charfaurous (Linda.Charfauros@sanjoseca.gov)

Prepared Staff [training for existing staff]– contact Levi Fuller (fuller@dsrsd.com)

Website – Contact Stan Blaauw (stan.blaauw@sjwater.com)

Thank you for your involvement and/or partnership with Baywork.

 


 

BAYWORK Helps Operators Prepare for Certification Exams

 
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BAYWORK partnered with the Bay Area Consortium for Water and Wastewater Education (BACCWE) to hold an Operator Certification Preparation training at EBMUD on Wednesday, September 11th, 2019. The event offered a full day of classes geared towards helping people prepare for the State Water Resource Control Board certification exams in grades 1 through 3. BAYWORK offered three separate tracks: Wastewater, Water Distribution, and Water Treatment. This event was extremely popular last year and we had even more attendees this year, with 165 in attendance. The trainings are also unique in that they are geared towards both existing employees who are preparing for additional certification and/or working to meet their Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for existing certification, but also for those interested in preparing to enter the Water and/or Wastewater industry. As one participant noted, “it was a great review of what to expect on the exam.” BAYWORK plans to offer a similar training for Grades 4 and 5 this spring.

 


 

North Bay, WOW!

 
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BAYWORK visits the City of Petaluma’s new plant for process digester gas into Compressed Natural Gas.

On October 16th forty-five employees of water and wastewater utilities participated in the BAYWORK Workshop on Wheels (WOW).  Over the course of this day-long event we got to see and discuss innovative processes being used at four North Bay utilities. Participants appreciated the opportunity to visit a variety of facilities – large and small, water as well as wastewater — and to hear from both operations and maintenance.

Our day started at Napa San where staff demonstrated their process for lining failed laterals, actually performing the operation on a demonstration pipe. Next we visited the City of Napa’s EIB/Jamieson Canyon Water Treatment Plant where staff had designed and built a new closed-loop cooling system for their ozone generators. The system replaced an old one that had experienced repeated failures.  One of the advantages to designing and building their own system, as opposed to contracting the work out, was that staff are now thoroughly familiar with the operation of the unit. We then made our way to the City of Petaluma’s Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility, where the city is in the final stages of installing equipment to convert digester gas into Compressed Natural Gas which will be used to power the city’s garbage trucks.  After a lunch break at a nearby park, our bus headed to the Sonoma County Water Agency’s treatment facility in Santa Rosa to see a unique microfiltration process attached to a pond system. Implementing this new technology was driven by the need to address permit changes and lower turbidity limits.  The microfiltration process had rarely been used on a pond-based wastewater system, creating plenty of challenges.  But the end result is very high-quality recycled water.

BAYWORK’s Workshops on Wheels are one of our most popular activities, allowing staff from agencies throughout the Bay Area to see new technology and processes in action and to talk with the people who are using it.  The WOWs are also great networking opportunities and, of course, there are free CE credits for those who need them.  We plan to hold a WOW in a different region this spring so keep your eye on our website for the announcement.

 


 

Bringing Potential Employees Into Our Utilities

 

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Two participants in our Laney College bridge program visit EBMUD.

 
BAYWORK and our partners at Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) are planning a series of training programs for those who want to enter our industry. Two of the biggest barriers to a healthier pipeline of job candidates are a lack of awareness of our industry and experience requirements for many entry-level jobs. On-the-job training (OJT) connected to classroom instruction is an effective way to address both of these barriers.

With the support of BAYWORK, JVS has been piloting different models of pre-apprenticeship and internships to address these barriers by placing promising students and candidates in our workplaces.

In the coming months we will be partnering on several projects:

  • A pre-apprenticeship with both classroom training (at Laney College) and OJT at East Bay and East Bay Adjacent employers
  • A summer internship program for students in Los Medanos College’s programs for instrumentation techs and process operators
  • A summer internship in the South Bay, with the occupational focus and college partners to be determined by our South Bay agencies

We are excited about the opportunity to bring diverse and promising young people into temporary positions where they can gain exposure to the kind of work we do, develop connections with individual utilities and gain relevant work experience. If your agency would like to participate, or if you have questions, contact BAYWORK manager Michael Kushner at mkushner@jvs.org.

In the longer term, BAYWORK continues to work toward the development of several skilled trades apprenticeship programs for our industry. Stay tuned!

 


 

Honoring Our Veterans/Hiring Our Veterans

by Pamela Astarte – SFPUC

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When we talk with utility managers about their ideal employment candidate, one quality surfaces again and again: Veterans make great employees.  Veterans are prime candidates for the critical skilled trades jobs our utilities are most focused on filling.  Many are middle skills workers, with more than a HS degree but no Bachelor’s degree.  Some have come out of the service with experience in one or more of our skilled trades. These men and women are also highly disciplined, willing to work and to learn new skills, effective and efficient workers and, above all, team players.

Skilled trades jobs, such as operators, Instrument Techs, Maintenance Mechanics and Machinists, are all well-paid, with most starting out between $60,000 and $80,000 a year and with great benefits.

Thanks to the GI Bill, veterans are also willing and able to further their education. This allows them to complete their training and take certification exams that allow for stackable credentials, where they might develop skills in multiple fields: electricity, water distribution, plumbing, welding etc., thus making them even more desirable candidates for employment

Collaboration is needed among community colleges, veterans’ organizations and utilities to promote awareness of the industry, to provide internship opportunities to veterans, and to reach out to these brave men and women to promote living wage trades careers! It is important to let veterans know that they do have choices; that college is not the only option. Veterans who are willing to work in skilled trades need only check the Career and Training listings on our website at http://www.baywork.org.

In the future BAYWORK plans to have a dedicated Veterans page on our website with videos of our employees who are veterans, as well as specific Transition Pathways from the military to jobs in our industry. If you are a veteran working in the water sector, and willing to share your story with others please email us at sfbaywork2011@gmail.com.

 


 

Coming Soon to a Utility Near You

BAYWORK is already looking forward to 2020. Here are some activities in the works:

  • March 4, 2020             Operator Certification Exam Prep (Grades 4 & 5) – SFPUC
  • April 2020                    High Tech Training on New Tools – Ross Valley Sanitary District
  • April 2020                   The Digitalization of Water – All Day Workshop – location TBD
  • May 2020                    Workshop on Wheels (WOW) – Peninsula/East Bay
  • Summer 2020             Skilled Trades Internship Program – various locations
  • Summer 2020             Workshop-on-Wheels for Teachers – Contra Costa County
  • Summer 2020             Water Week Teacher Externship – South Bay

Other activities and events are also being planned.  Check our website at baywork.org for details as they are finalized.

BAYWORK is HOT!