Waterwork – April 2021
 
The President’s Corner

Catherine Curtis, SFPUC & BAYWORK President

BAYWORK would like to welcome its new members in this past quarter: The City of San Mateo, and West Valley Water District. We are delighted to have you join our BAYWORK family.

It has been a challenging year adjusting to the COVID pandemic. We hope to see a return to some semblance of normalcy by the fall. BAYWORK will be announcing our initiatives for Fiscal Year 21-22 at our Signatory Meeting in June. It is not too late to send us your ideas and requests for next year. Just write our BAYWORK Manager, Michael Kushner, at [email protected]. Depending on the CDC’s guidance, we hope to be able to return to in-person events in the new fiscal year, but we expect to continue to offer a wide array of virtual fare as well.

We have been actively working on our Digital Worker White Paper. A big thank you to our 30+ advisory committee members from around the country. We will publish the paper on our website in May and will hold a virtual event on June 10 to highlight key findings. We expect to have an initiative in the new fiscal year based on the research and recommendations for future work. Stay tuned…

This is my final article from the President’s corner. I will be stepping down in June 2021. BAYWORK has achieved a number of milestones during my tenure. We have increased the number of Signatory member agencies from 28 to 40. In 2018, BAYWORK launched our North Bay Initiative, developing the first ever cross training effort between agencies and increasing engagement and membership in the North Bay. We initiated a social media work group to increase the younger generation’s awareness of BAYWORK and of the green jobs we have to offer. Our multi-year project on the Digital Worker addresses an important emerging issue as the water sector relies increasingly on digital tools in all facets of our work. We presented an all-day workshop on the Digital Worker at the UMC conference a year ago and have presented virtually around the country, as other regions are interested in replicating the BAYWORK model. The scope of our work has expanded with the creation of new work groups addressing veterans, women-in-the trades and racial equity. The BAYWORK website went through a major redesign last year and we also redesigned our internal governance as we incorporated, filing for 501.c.3 non-profit status in order to seek out grant funding to leverage the contributions of our members. I have been a part of BAYWORK since its birth in June of 2009 and I will always be committed to its growth, innovation and success.

That growth is possible because of the contributions of many volunteers from our member agencies. If you are interested in joining one of our committees, please reach out by contacting the committee leads listed below.


Thank you for your involvement in BAYWORK!


 
Are You REDI – Racial Equity, Diversity & Inclusion?

  –  By Robert Scott, BAYWORK Vice President (Valley Water)

Levi Fuller (DSRSD) teaching new operators

BAYWORK member agencies contribute so much more to our communities in addition to providing clean drinking water, and collecting and treating wastewater. Increasingly, we realize that our need for a new generation of employees is an opportunity to improve our communities by providing the kind of jobs people need in order to be secure and raise their families. The nation-wide activism of the past year around racial equity has increased the focus on this aspect of our work as we seek to engage with communities that have been underrepresented in our workforce.

At our October 2020 Board meeting, BAYWORK agreed to make racial equity a part of our explicit mission and roadmap. The result was the formation of a new REDI (Racial Equity, Diversity & Inclusion) work group. I am truly honored by the vote of confidence from my colleagues who asked me to lead this important effort!

The next month, as part of our annual Training Buffet (a mini-conference), we convened a panel of professionals from various agencies to participate in a 90-minute session entitled, “Racial Equity in Our Industry: It’s Time to Talk about It.” Our plan was to kick start our efforts and motivate any interested parties to collaborate with us. Fifty-six people attended and, according to comments received in our survey, the session was powerful, informative, and greatly appreciated. You can view the entire session here.

Since the Training Buffet, we have held two meetings and plan to meet every 2-3 weeks to flesh out mission and vision statements and devise a strategy for achieving them. So far, we have 27 participants from 15 water and wastewater agencies. Though this issue impacts so many things in our industry, we are confident that we can target some specific areas that will move the needle toward having a more productive, efficient, and equitable water sector. Please contact us at baywork.org or email me at [email protected] if you would like to be a part of this movement or want more information.


 
Apprenticeship Is Coming To BAYWORK

– by Michael Kushner, BAYWORK Manager

 Francisco Espinoza, Instrument & Controls Technician, City of San Jose

The hiring manager at one Bay Area utility recently expressed his frustration at receiving a large number of applications for an Instrument Tech opening, only to find that none of the applicants possessed the needed skills. BAYWORK is working to address this problem by working with Valley Water, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and East Bay Municipal Utilities District, to develop a regional apprenticeship program for Instrument Techs.  Subject Matter Experts from all three utilities have been meeting with BAYWORK since January to develop key elements of the apprenticeship standard, which will be submitted to the US Department of Labor this spring.  Meanwhile, a steering committee of managers and unions from the participating agencies is meeting to develop a plan for implementation. 

The project is working with the Los Medanos College (LMC) ETEC program to provide the necessary classroom instruction.  LMC is widely recognized for providing the best training in the Bay Area for instrument techs.  Our partners at Jewish Vocational Service are providing funding through a High Road Training Partnership grant from the California Workforce Development Board.  BAYWORK is also very appreciative of technical support provided by the California Labor Federation.

Apprenticeship is an ideal solution to the problem of finding and retaining talent in the skilled trades.  It ensures that candidates are trained in all the processes used by the utility, while also demonstrating impressive rates of employee retention.  For their part, apprentices get valuable training and experience, without the expense of a college or trade school program.  It is no wonder that both state and federal governments are strongly promoting this training model.

BAYWORK has designed its apprenticeship program so that it can be adopted by any of our member agencies.  We expect to enroll our first group of apprentices this winter.


 
Record Participation at Webinar on Transitioning to Digital from Paper

By Kory Loucks-Powell – BAYWORK

Mary Reynolds, Central San

With 85 attendees, the January 21st webinar “Our Journey from Paper to Digital and the Lessons Learned,” was by far BAYWORK’s largest online event yet.

Mary Reynolds, Collections System Maintenance Scheduler with Central San in Martinez, CA, gave a thoughtful and organized presentation on their collections system’s transition from paper to digital and the bumps they experienced along the way.

Mary shared what worked for them and, just as importantly, what did not work, and how they will handle transitions to digital in the future. Their collections system was the first unit to go digital but it will not be the last. As the paper-to-digital rollout continues at Central San, their experiences and the knowledge they have gained will prove invaluable in avoiding missteps going forward.

Based on the number of participants, this webinar was also of keen interest to many in the Bay Area who learned about Central San’s accomplishments and setbacks, as more and more agencies transition to digital platforms.

In the post-event survey attendees shared many positive reviews about the webinar. “We are also in the process of transitioning from paper to digital CMMS,” Jerry Miller with Dublin San Ramon Services District said. “It was eye-opening to see that we are not alone in the process and how other agencies are doing this.”

Leslie Richardson with East Bay Municipal Utility District said she appreciated “the steps taken, and the lessons learned. I really liked the lessons learned, which is something that is not done or rarely done.”

The video recording of this webinar and the presentation are available to view on the baywork.org Past Events page. To view, click HERE.


 
SWRCB Resumes Operator Certification Testing

The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) has announce that Operator Certification Computer Based Testing (CBT) is now available. In the past, the SWRCB offered paper-pencil exams twice a year (in spring and fall) at 10 locations throughout the state.  Due to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, they have moved to year-round computer-based testing at more than 30 testing centers statewide. For additional information on CBT and answers to questions you may have, please see the links below. 

Computer Based Testing Overview

Computer Based Testing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)  

All examinees who were approved and scheduled for the Spring or Fall 2020 certification examinations will be approved to schedule a testing opportunity for Operator Certification CBT. Due to the backlog of candidates awaiting testing, the SWRCB will be approving candidates for Computer Based Operator Certification examinations in phases. Candidates who applied for and were scheduled for the Spring 2020 examination, will be provided scheduling opportunities first, followed by candidates who applied for and were scheduled for the Fall 2020 examinations.  

Once all 2020 examinees have had a chance to schedule, approved applicants who submitted applications after the fall examination deadlines, up though present, will be provided scheduling opportunities. 


 
BAYWORK welcomes the following new Signatory Members.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

All events are virtual. Check the Upcoming Events page of the BAYWORK website –https://baywork.org/upcoming-events/ 

  • April 29 – Real Talk:  Moving Forward After COVID-19 – An Operations & Maintenance Perspective
  • May 6 – Real Talk:  Moving Forward After COVID-19 – A Human Resources Perspective
  • May 13 – Real Talk:  Moving Forward After COVID-19 – A Health & Safety Perspective
  • June 10 – The Digital Worker:  A Panel Discussion
  • June 22 – Annual BAYWORK Signatory Meeting

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