Submitted by Catherine Curtis, Incoming BAYWORK Chair
SFPUC Workforce Reliability Manager
BAYWORK is excited about the launch of our first ever Cross-Training series, which grew out of BAYWORK’s North Bay Pilot program. The Town of Windsor, Ross Valley Sanitary District (RVSD), and NapaSan each hosted a small number of employees from other agencies, providing several days of in-depth training on best practices and innovations.
The North Bay Pilot was initiated last summer in order to bring more BAYWORK events to the area and increase local agencies’ engagement with BAYWORK. Together, employees from Las Gallinas Valley Sanitation District, Marin Municipal Water District, North Marin Water District, Ross Valley Sanitary District, NapaSan, and Town of Windsor chose to develop a cross-training program and selected Jeff Tucker of NapaSan to lead the effort.
Ross Valley Sanitary District led off in April with a four-day training on collection system equipment, pipe maintenance, and condition assessment. In May NapaSan gave a three-day training on their bio solids management program, preventive maintenance and cleaning of the influent pump station, as well as Operator-in-Training and Confined Space Entry programs. In June Town of Windsor contributes training on their SCADA system, inspection and servicing of equipment, the town’s recycled water program, laboratory procedures, a phosphorus reduction program and a floating solar array.
A special thank you to all the leaders from the North Bay whose efforts made this series such a success: Jeff Tucker and Stephanie Turnipseed (NapaSan), Steve Miksis (RVSD) and Veronica Astells (Town of Windsor). To get more information on the Cross-Training, please refer to our resources page or our past events page on the BAYWORK website at baywork.org.
Over 400 Bay Area high school students and job seekers came to the Laney College campus in Oakland on February 27, 2019, to learn about careers and employment opportunities in the water and wastewater industry. BAYWORK hosted two related events that day – The BAYWORK Career Exploration Fair (attended by approximately 200 high school students that morning), and the BAYWORK Career Fair (which attracted over 215 college students and other adult job seekers).
There were 27 participating Bay Area water and wastewater utilities, colleges, and other organizations. The event helped them to recruit and inspire future engineers, skilled trades workers, and scientists, as well as experts in customer service, business operations, finance, policy, planning, and communications.
The high school students and teachers represented schools from San Francisco, the Peninsula, the East Bay, and the Eden Area ROP (Regional Occupational Program).
On hand to help prospective students find a pathway to these careers were representatives from 5 colleges and universities, as well as JVS (Jewish Vocational Service), a workforce development non-profit. There were also guided tours of Laney College’s vocational shops and programs.
Based on the enormous response to these events and other regional outreach efforts coordinated through BAYWORK, one thing is clear– water careers are generating a wellspring of interest that is only growing.
For more information about water/wastewater industry careers, visit the BAYWORK website at
Participating BAYWORK agencies at this event included:
Ingrid Bella, Outgoing BAYWORK Chair
“BAYWORK is awesome!” is just one of many comments I have heard over the years and most recently from a panel member at the Arizona Water Association Annual Conference, where I had the privilege of being invited to present on BAYWORK.
It has been an honor to be one of many ambassadors showcasing our wonderful model of collaboration, innovation, and passion for workforce reliability. Through visits to other states, water industry conferences, or meetings with our signatories, the message is clear. BAYWORK is an excellent tool to help us move the needle forward on succession planning and staff preparedness.
I have so enjoyed working with some of the most creative, passionate, smart and dedicated people from our participating utilities over the years. I have to admit I was a bit overwhelmed to take the helm in 2015 when Cheryl Davis retired, but with the support and enthusiasm of the BAYWORK leadership team, we were able to carry on and build on the firm foundation that Cheryl helped create.
At my last Annual Signatory Meeting as BAYWORK’s Chair I was very proud to once again showcase the value BAYWORK provides, and also to engage the signatories in planning for the future.
The list of partners and collaborators is too long to name, but please know that I am grateful for the work all have done. I know BAYWORK will continue to be “awesome” with our new Chair, Catherine Curtis, and Vice-Chair, Robert Scott.
Submitted by Elinor Buchen, SFPUC
BAYWORK held its first Operator Certification Exam Prep training at East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) on February 28, 2019. The event drew our largest attendance yet with 143 attendees from 21 different utilities, as well as a number of prospective employees interested in getting their certification and becoming operators. The event offered three tracks: Wastewater, Water Treatment, and Water Distribution. The classes were geared toward passing Grades 1-3 exams.
By partnering with BACWWE (Bay Area Consortium for Water and Wastewater Education), BAYWORK was able to bring in experienced industry supervisors and trainers to provide a range of classes that will prepare candidates for their certification exams. Classes included: Disinfection Processes, Anaerobic Digestion, Coagulation/Flocculation, Operator Math Review, and others. There was also a Q&A session with Annette Caraway, manager of the Office of Operator Certification at the State Water Resources Control Board. One participant who is preparing to take the D2 exam said he especially appreciated the math portion and the session on the regulations that are covered on the exam. We wish him luck on his exam! BAYWORK plans to hold additional operator certification prep classes (including for Grades 4 – 5) next year.
BAYWORK presented a Pump and Pump Systems Workshop on March 20, 2019 at the offices of Napa County Health & Human Services. This event offered a unique combination of presentations and hands-on demonstrations. EBMUD and Valley Water opened the event with presentations on the Commissioning and Recommissioning processes. The group took a break for lunch and then headed over to NapaSan, where Mark Egan offered three different hands-on demonstrations of pump recommissioning and maintenance. One attendee commented that he liked “the way [the workshop] combined technical aspects of a pump’s operation with the mechanical.”
The workshop was also unique in that 52 of the 108 attendees had never been to a BAYWORK event before! BAYWORK’s North Bay pilot program has clearly been successful in engaging more employees in the area.
At our Annual Signatory Meeting this month BAYWORK chose the following leaders to serve for the next two years.
Catherine Curtis, SFPUC – Chair
Robert Scott, Valley Water – Vice Chair
Jeff Tucker, NapaSan – Treasurer
Brandon Voelker, City of San Jose – Secretary
Steven Currie, EBMUD – Co-chair, Candidate Development and Outreach Committee
Linda Charfauros, City of San Jose – Co-chair, Candidate Development and Outreach Committee
Elinor Buchen, SFPUC – Chair, Staff Preparedness Committee
Stan Blaauw, San Jose Water – Chair, Website Committee
One of Valley Water’s newest Assistant Plant Operators has a connection to BAYWORK. Sabrina Yang has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and pursued a number of artistic outlets while in school, but a BAYWORK high school presentation helped steer her to a career in water. Sabrina entered Gavilan College’s Water Resources Management program and then the Valley Water Skilled Trades Internship Program. Her story validates the educational outreach done by BAYWORK, as well as the internship model used by many of our agencies. Congratulations, Sabrina