Category: News

2017 Teacher Externships

Water Career Pathways (WCP) consortium has proudly sponsored 27 high school teachers that spent one week within the water and wastewater industries through job shadowing externships.  The teachers were placed with our industry partners San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the City of San Jose during this summer’s school vacation period.  Teachers worked directly with industry folks to generate ideas to develop and create lesson plans that bring real world problem solving and skills generation into the classrooms.  Students can relate to the curriculum designed as it is tangible from a real-world scenario.  Students can then begin to picture themselves in those careers or similar aiding in the passion for learning and vision for a clear future.

An externship is a vehicle by which educators are directly exposed to the day to day problem solving and skill sets that an industry position needs.  These externships are essentially mini internships for educators.  Having this direct knowledge of industry and producing lessons from it; create a relatable project, based on real-world scenarios.

Teachers are working feverishly to create meaningful and interactive projects for students to gain real world skills and realize the potential for themselves.  When students finish one of these lesson plans, they have gained the knowledge of the material as well as the confidence and understanding of how it applies to the real world.  The more students can relate specific knowledge to the real world, the more relevant that knowledge is to them.  As Project Based Learning (PBL) is being adopted along with Work Based Learning (WBL, ie. Internships); the gap between traditional education and workforce hire-ability shrinks.  Studies show that a student is more likely to enter an industry after having had an internship during their educational years.

Thanks to the WCP consortium, its educational, non-profit and industry partners.  All of these great efforts wouldn’t be possible without their dedication and collaboration in the vision of a clear career pathway into the water and wastewater industries.  Thanks to these efforts students will follow into the footsteps of our current water and wastewater industry heroes. They will ensure that future generations have clean and safe drinking water along with safe disposal, sanitation and reuse of our wastewater.

Baywork / WCP 2016 Workshop on Wheels

September 29th, 2016

Baywork, in partnership with Water Career Pathways, hosted a tour of four Bay Area water/wastewater agencies for local high school and college educators. This Workshop on Wheels allowed educators to experience a showcase of mission-critical careers in the water industry, with the purpose of fostering partnerships in educating the future workforce.

The tour included stops at San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility, Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center, West Valley Sanitation District, and San Jose Water Company.

Participants received a behind the scenes look at operations at the facilities, with employees in several career paths speaking to the attendees about what they do.

San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility
Wastewater Treatment Operators, Michael Tocalino & Alex Rodriguez, spoke about skills necessary, such as algebra, to become a wastewater treatment operator and how those skills are used in daily operations. Mechanic, Rocky Padilla, covered the process of mechanical repairs and maintenance of equipment.

Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center
Instrument Technician David Wolf, Senior Controls System Technician, detailed the processes of maintaining equipment and managing budgets. Senior Water Treatment Operator, Jacob Spacher, spoke about his responsibilities as the first point of escalation for issues onsite. Jacob also cited the importance of being in charge of your own employability by going above and beyond minimum requirements, by attaining extra certifications or higher level certifications such as the T3/T4/T5.

West Valley Sanitation District
Wastewater Collections Operator Kelvin Hatchett explained the daily duties of the West Valley Sanitation crew, how their work assignments are distributed, and gave a look at some of the equipment used, such as the robot camera that locates blockages and helps crews to maintain pipes.

San Jose Water Company
Engineer, Dámaris Villalobos-Galindo, offered insight into her experience as an engineer at various water facilities, and what engineers can expect to do at these facilities, such as studying conditions of the infrastructure and preparing reports on the priorities of which pipes should be replaced first. Water Distribution Operator, Michael Smallman, spoke about what he enjoys about his job, such as the constant challenges and the need to always learn new skills, and the opportunity to work outside in the Bay Area.

To learn more about water careers in the Bay Area, please visit us at and


San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Teacher Externships

Community Benefits News: School’s IN for Summer!

By Kory Loucks-Powell, Baywork

The last week in July, SFPUC staff from across the agency helped coordinate a week-long on-site learning experience (i.e. “externship”) for a very enthusiastic and highly engaged group of high school science teachers. This SFPUC community benefits project was made possible through a partnership with:

  • BAYWORK, a regional collaborative of water and wastewater industry employers focused on workforce development, staff training, and candidate development (
  • Water Career Pathways Consortium, a grant-funded effort to raise awareness about careers in the water and wastewater industry (; and
  • IgnitEd, a nonprofit organization focused on transforming STEM education – i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. (

The six participating teachers spent the week touring six SFPUC facilities in five days learning about SFPUC services, operations, and related careers. By the end of the week, the teachers had already begun devising curriculum that would incorporate their newfound understanding, knowledge, and appreciation for SFPUC and the fascinating world of water and wastewater science into their classrooms this fall.


“I learned that the employees at the SFPUC love what they do. It is really exciting from an educator’s perspective.” Ava Chiao, a biology teacher at Independence High School and the East Side Unified High School District Water Career Pathways Grant Coordinator, who helped plan and run the event.

“It was a great experience for both the teachers and staff, I think the teachers developed some amazing ideas to bring back to their students.” Community Benefits Workforce Development Manager, Steven Currie.

Over 35 SFPUC staff from six SFPUC facilities contributed to the teachers’ experiences including engineers, machinists, water and wastewater treatment operators, customer service representatives, sewer cleaning crews, managers, and students with Project Pull, as well as interns, to get a comprehensive picture of what skills are needed to do the work that they do.

Special thanks to all the SFPUC staff and interns who contributed to this project including:

  • Wastewater Enterprise: Darrell Andrews, Steve Ardrey, Jose Banaria, Desmond Barca, Catherine Curtis, Brenda Donald, Tony Flores, John Hanson, Lewis Harrison, Charles V. Johnson, Domenec Jolis, Laurie Kum, Ken Lee, Diane McHenry, Mark Middleton, Mike Patolo, Polly Perkins, Jonathan Smith, Daniel Whitlock
  • Water Enterprise: Rohit Advani, John Buchner, Jonathan Chow, Ed Forner, Paul Gambon, Don Lampe, Kory Loucks-Powell, John Mallia, Jordi Vasquez, Pete Woolery
  • Power Enterprise: Mike Totah
  • Business Services: Glorina Crisostomo
  • Infrastructure: Daniel Alvarado, Angelo Chan, Ivy Fine, Jesus Gonzales Teena Redhorse, Daniel Sanchez, Victor Shih, Laura Wen
  • External Affairs: Precious Amaechi, Steven Currie, Stephanie Dam, DiAngelo Gleaves, Nathalie Guillen, John Hanson, Mutheu Kivuvani, Esa Medina-Kim, Fatir Muhammad, Kelly Omran, Curtis Rollins, Victor Qiu, Hannah Wendlandt, Iyabo Williams

NOTICE: We want your input! The SFPUC is proud to be the first public utility in the nation to adopt Environmental Justice and Community Benefits policies. We’re conducting a survey to learn about staff perceptions of the SPFUC’s efforts to communicate and share news about the work we’re doing (like this teacher externship program) to benefit the communities in which the agency operates. The survey results will be used to improve how we communicate with diverse communities moving forward. Your responses will be strictly confidential and anonymous. For more info about this survey contact Rahel Marsie-Hazan at

Take the survey here:

2016 Water Challenge

West Valley College President Bradley Davis speaks to the local high school students participating in the first annual Water Career Pathways Water Challenge on April 29th.

More event photos and video will be coming soon!