Water Career Pathways Summer 2016 Newsletter

Creating a clear future

david_1As we complete our second year of the California Career Pathway Trust Grant – Water Career Pathways consortium, a dynamic future is taking shape. Many of the technical issues have been resolved and we are focusing on the tasks at hand: bringing awareness and enthusiasm to students and preparing them for careers in the water industry.

The consortium has been active creating pathways for our students. Some of the exciting projects we are working on:

Our middle school outreach program has launched. Initially focused on the San Benito County region; it aims to provide discussion of water issues facing our region and an overview of career options. Our next step will see the expansion of the program into Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.

With the help of a Dual Enrollment specialist, our high school and college partners are aligning curriculum to find where dual enrollment is feasible to connect the pathways.

The High School Water Challenge competition engaged nearly 400 high school students to resolve important issues facing the water industry. Working in teams from multiple high school districts, students used technology, marketing, or policy change to solve the problem. The teams presented their findings to a group of industry professionals who determine the winning teams and awarded scholarships.

Our Leadership Skills program has college students mentoring high school students to resolve local issues facing the water industry.

Teaming with Baywork and the regional colleges, the consortium is developing water industry specific contextualized math and science modules and our high schools partners are integrating water based curriculum in their Science, Math, English, and Engineering courses. West Valley and Evergreen are now ready to launch their new certificate programs, while Gavilan is ready to offer four new certifications.

As we move into our third year, we look to continue developing the programs that have been established, while implementing a few new projects. Our new programs involve getting greater participation of womens’ and veterans’ groups, increasing the number of instructors, developing a high school bridge program that leads to our college programs, developing student profiles, and skills mapping.

All this work takes a lot of time and effort from all members of the consortium. Once again, I want to thank all that have been involved and at the same time I would like to extend the opportunity to other businesses and educational institutions in the Bay Region to join our consortium.


David Esmaili
Project Manager
Bay Region | Deputy Sector Navigator
Agriculture, Water and Environmental Technology

In the next seven years, the water and wastewater industry will experience a severe loss of qualified professionals due to retirement. Currently, there are not enough qualified applicants to fill those mission critical positions.

2016 Water Career Pathways Water Challenge

April 29th, 2016
West Valley College, Saratoga, CA

wc_crowdAs part of an effort to bring awareness to the need for skilled workers in the California water industry, nearly 400 local high school students participated in a semester-long project focused on issues faced by the water districts. More than 70 student teams were tasked with identifying a strategy to address challenges in providing sufficient potable water or in processing wastewater.

After identifying the focus of their project, students were required to research the methods they could employ to achieve their goals, with an emphasis on innovating or improving existing technologies. Possible questions that could be pursued included sustainable methods of providing clean drinking water for a populace, the processing of wastewater into potable water, or possibilities for using non-potable water to conserve other water supplies for drinking.

The challenge was designed to be open-ended in the presentation of the projects to allow the students freedom in how they wished to work. There were many impressive prototypes on display at the event, and with many well-researched PowerPoint presentations.

The judging process was no small task – teachers and volunteers from the involved high schools coordinated the first round of presentations at each school, resulting in a science fair type scenario with the students showing off their projects during their normal class periods. Judges made their rounds, scoring the teams on their creativity, execution, and quality of the verbal presentation.

Teachers from four area high schools were key to the success of this endeavor. Participating schools included Branham High School, Independence High School, James Lick High School, and Westmont High School. These teachers provided invaluable input into the logistics of the event, helping to design the scope of the project and the rubric that would be used for scoring the student projects as they were completed.

Once initial judging was completed, top teams from each district were invited to present their projects at the awards and participation event at West Valley College on April 29th. A total of 29 teams were able to demonstrate their projects for a final round of judging. Judges included experts from local water districts and consortium partners.

The event on April 29th included opening remarks by West Valley College President Bradley Davis and an introduction by David Esmaili, Water Career Pathways project manager and Bay Region Deputy Sector Navigator for Agriculture, Water, and Environmental Technology. West Valley College leadership team students also participated, presenting their water-related research to the attending high school students.

Motivational speaker and voice for student success, Arel Moodie, took the stage prior to the presentation of awards. Arel gave the students an energetic presentation on his own road to success, capturing the students’ attention and engaging with them personally after the event.

Final judging took place during the day of the event with the winning teams being presented with scholarship awards during the afternoon. The winning teams were invited on stage to present their projects to the audience and accept their awards. The day was a huge success and a great start to what will be an annual event.


Water Career Pathways Teacher Leadership Committee
Patricia Call, Ava Chiao, Linda Colloran, Dave Duarte, Marc Mullen, Susan Paulsen, Heather Wygant

High School Teachers
Branham High School – Fitzgerald Vo
Independence High School – Jack Aiello, Stuart Briber, Leo Johnson
James Lick High School – Gabriela Huynh, Sheila Lacanaria, Dr. Prima R. Tatum
Westmont High School – Dave Duarte

Nick Ajluni, City of San Jose
Aayushi Jain, Sustainable Silicon Valley
Marc Mullen, Water Career Pathways
Stan Nakaso, Lockheed Martin Space Systems
Heather Wygant, Morgan Hill Unified School District

Santa Clara Valley Water District
Water Career Pathways
West Valley College

West Valley Leadership Team
Teachers – Anna Brichko, Vicky Kalivitis
Students – Filip Bozinovic, Spencer Burakowski, Bethany Prater, Rusty Ravenscraft, Maria Silva

Click here for the photos


By Catherine Curtis
Steering Committee Member, Baywork
Workforce Reliability Manager, SFPUC, Wastewater Enterprise

Cheryl K. Davis is one of the founders of Baywork and works on international, national, state, regional and until recently, agency levels to support operational reliability in utilities by working to ensure sufficiently prepared staff in mission-critical job categories. Cheryl co-founded Baywork in June of 2009 after being the chair of a very successful task force from American Water Works Association to determine if collaboration is an effective tool for workforce development issues in the water/wastewater industry. The task force was successful so she formalized the group by creating the organization called Baywork. BAYWORK is a regional collaborative of water/wastewater utilities working together to promote workforce reliability through the following strategies: (1) candidate development and outreach; (2) staff preparedness (providing staff with the information they need to do quality work); (3) modification of work processes to optimize use of staffing available; and (4) maximizing cost-effectiveness of workforce development efforts through collaboration. BAYWORK currently has 27 signatories but started with only four.

Cheryl was the Chair of Baywork from June of 2009 until June of 2015. Cheryl is currently the Chair of the Workforce Sustainability Working Group of the International Water Association and also serves as the Chair of Sustainability in Industry working group. Recently retired in June of 2015 from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and Baywork, Cheryl was the Manager of Workforce Development Initiatives for San Francisco Public Utilities Commission from 2001 to 2015 and before 2007 managed the Water Supply and Treatment Division of SFPUC providing high-quality water to over 2.6 million customers in the Bay Area. This division is responsible for operation, maintenance, and improvement of reservoirs; transmission lines; pumping stations; filtration plants; other treatment facilities; and support structures.

Cheryl’s list of publications and conference presentations is a long one and she has been writing and speaking for nearly two decades. Most recently she has published “Workforce Sustainability: An International Challenge” in Water 21 Water Utility Management International, IWA Publishing, June 2014 as well as “Meeting the Workforce Reliability Challenge” in Water Online – The Magazine, Clean Water Edition 2014. Another great read is her approach to technical training coupled with subject matter expert networking in her article, “BAYWORK’s Workshop on Wheels: A New Approach to Technical Training,” in California-Nevada Section of American Water Works Association magazine SOURCE, Spring 2014. She is scheduled to speak at the Utility Management Conference in 2016 in San Diego and gave a series of sessions on “Innovations in Training,”“Managing Staff Knowledge as an Asset” and “Baywork – Giving You All We’ve Got” in 2014 both at the Water Environment Conference in New Orleans and the 2014 Utility Management Conference in Savannah, GA.

Ms. Davis now serves in a consulting capacity for Baywork, and is deeply involved in the Water Career Pathways (WCP) consortium work. Baywork and the WCP have partnered in various ways beginning with co-branding outreach brochures, working on curriculum development, and building a portal website for teachers and students which will contain contextualized learning materials and a mix of other valuable resources for teachers and students. She works with the new Chair of Baywork, Ingrid Bella, helping with the advisory committee and has been extremely engaged with curriculum development through the contextualized learning project.

Finding talented and dedicated individuals such as Cheryl Davis is a tall order to fill. We are lucky and honored to have such an inspiration and resourceful advocate working towards our goals. We would all like to say “Thank you, Cheryl,” for all of your hard work, dedication and drive towards inspiring change.

If you want to learn more about Baywork or the Water Career Pathways consortium, please visit baywork.org or cawatercareers.org. Both sites have great information for the industry, faculty and students.


March 3rd, 2016
San Jose City Hall Rotunda

On March 3rd, Baywork held a Water/Wastewater Career Exploration Fair at the San Jose City Hall Rotunda. The high school career exploration fair was a wonderful venue to raise awareness of careers and job opportunities in water and wastewater operations as well as post-high school training programs available at area colleges and universities.

Over 300 students from several South Bay high schools participated in the fair. Attending students were from Chemistry, Biology, Career Technical Education, and Special Education. Participating high schools included Live Oak High School from Morgan Hill, Westmont High School from Campbell, and Andrew P. Hill High School, William C. Overfelt High School, and Independence High School from San Jose.

The event featured representatives from LinkedIn discussing the importance of maintaining an online resume and a focus group activity for students. Another highlight were the numerous industry representatives who were available to speak with students about their careers. Participants represented various mission-critical jobs such as water and wastewater treatment operators, engineers, electricians, collections staff and distrubution operators.

There were 87 exhibitors present from 30 Bay Area water and wastewater agencies, unions, and schools. College representatives from Laney College, Solano Community College, Evergreen College, San Jose College, and Los Medanos College spoke to the students about their available programs. More photos from the event are available at Water Career Pathways’ Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WaterConsortium.CareerPathways.


BAYWORK is a collaborative of water and wastewater utilities working together to ensure workforce reliability.


By Steven Currie
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

climate_changeEvery day it seems clearer and clearer that climate change is the defining challenge of our lifetime. Nowhere is that challenge clearer and more pressing than in the local Bay Area water industry.

Water is our planet’s one truly irreplaceable resource. Our economy, our society, and our lives cannot be sustained without continued, reliable access to clean water. The thoughtful stewardship and management of that precious resource is what this industry is all about.

Climate change is making effective water management a much more challenging and urgent task. Droughts, floods, habitat changes, diminished snowpack levels, alternative water resources, water pollution prevention, sea-level rise, water conservation and re-use, infrastructure innovative and re-design – these are just some of the critical challenges facing our industry for the foreseeable future.

We need more young people who are interested in these careers. To effectively address the biggest challenge of our lifetime, we’re going to need all the help we can get.

To learn more about careers in the water industry, please visit:



By Marc Mullen, Water Career Pathways

scrwaThrough great effort and dedication to their students, Morgan Hill High School teachers Heather Wygant and Susan Paulsen took their Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science classes to the South County Regional Wastewater Authority (SCRWA) for a tour of the plant.

This tour was sponsored by the Water Career Pathways consortium; funded by a California Department of Education awarded grant. The grant’s main objective is to expose students to careers within the water and wastewater industries.

Educators such as Heather and Susan have been developing contextualized learning modules that are common core compliant with exposure to the types of problems one might face as a water industry employee.

Tours of treatment plants combined with in class subject matter experts and the contextualized learning are but a few ways we are reaching out to the next generation. Creating career pathways within a particular industry is a way to help guide and train future employees for an industry that might otherwise not be considered.

The need for the next generation to be excited and ready for water careers is essential to our infrastructure and provides them with the training needed for a stable career.


May 23rd, 2016
Intuit Cook Campus Center, Mountain View CA

ssv_intuitMore than 250 attendees gathered at Intuit’s Cook Campus Center on May 23rd for Sustainable Silicon Valley’s Spring 2016 Water Symposium. Speakers included representatives from water-related companies such as Acqualogic and Xylem, along with water agencies like Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency, and Santa Clara Valley Water District.

Several exhibitors were also onsite, demonstrating their sustainability-focused products, such as low-flow showerheads and concrete designed to allow large volumes of water to flow through, eliminating the need for stormwater infrastructure.

SSV is on the outset of a journey to create a water recycling ecosystem in the Bay Area that will create jobs, wealth, and sustain businesses. SSV brings together leading tech companies, cities, counties, research and educational institutions to solve sustainability issues that cannot be solved alone.

You can view the speakers’ presentations from the event at: http://www.wp.sustainablesv.org/water-symposium-speakers.
To learn more about SSV’s efforts, please visit at sustainablesv.org.

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