Steve Hernandez
Photo Credit: Steve Hernandez

Steve Hernandez, Owner
WaterWise Pro

"My first CA-NV AWWA conference was about 16 years ago and the same sense of belonging I felt back then has become deeply rooted through the course of my career.

Each and every event that I have attended has been a great experience and loaded with opportunities to learn a new variety of information, practices, Industry equipment and technological advances.

2018 has been packed full of excitement and new opportunities with CA-NV AWWA starting with the Operator Symposium event March 27 & 28 in Burlingame, CA. It was a sold out event in which I attended both days for the Water Operator Pipe Taping & Hydrant Hysteria Competitions. This year's events were (in my opinion) the most competitive I've seen. The Operator Competitions test skill, ability and knowledge of some of the top industry professionals. The competitions are great for organizations in boosting morale, building teamwork as well as promoting themselves as active leaders among fellow water agencies.  

I have built very strong relationships with colleagues throughout the industry through seminars, training events and conferences. Most recently, at the Operator Symposium I met Mr. John Tucker, Communications Manager for the CA-NV AWWA Section. John encouraged me to consider working with the Section's Education Committee for the upcoming Water Education Seminar (WES) event.  WES is an annual event (August 22) that attracts hundreds of operators throughout California to gather for a day of learning from industry leaders, educators, and specialists at Santiago Canyon College in Orange, CA. 

I also attended ACE18 in Las Vegas, NV this June and it was an amazing event!  The week was full of great options to learn, network and grow as professionals, and for me it included a tour of the  Las Vegas Valley Water District /SNWA 1,200 MGD Booster Station L3PS, that  was in the construction phase and was definitely a pleasure to see. At some point I heard there were over 12,000 attendees and over 400 vendors packed into the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino! I wish I had more time during that week to get to all the technical sessions offered and vendor displays, there was so much to see and do! 

The one thing I have always loved about our industry is the amount of "Opportunities" it has to offer any/everyone! I have to say that if you are in the industry or trying to get into it, there are tons of "opportunities" to get involved and to enhance your journey in this profession.

CA-NV AWWA, I thank you for all of your efforts, past and future, for making our AWWA Section one that I am very proud to be a part of!"

MAY 2018

Jeff Montijo, WTP Operator
City of San Luis Obispo - Employee

"The Operator Symposium in Burlingame, CA gave me and my coworkers the chance to learn, network, and witness some of the best in the industry with the Top-Op's and Hot Tapping competitions. The technical sessions covered a variety of topics important to me. The opportunity to come together with other operators always provides a valuable exchange of knowledge. Seeing the best in the industry at the Top Op's and Hot Tapping competitions lets operators show off their polished talents. I am looking forward to future events."

JULY 2018

Sacramento Lady Tappers
Photo Credit: Sacramento Lady Tappers

Sacramento Lady Tappers: Roxanne Dilley, Megan Thomas, Megan Mackay and Jolynn Conrad
City of Sacramento Department of Utilities - Employees

"A little over two years ago, The City of Sacramento Department of Utilities decided to form a women’s pipe tapping team to compete at the CA-NV Section, AWWA competition. Roxanne Dilley, Megan Thomas, Megan Mackay and Jolynn Conrad formed the Sacramento Lady Tappers. None of the team members currently work in the maintenance section of our water distribution crews. We all vary in our occupational backgrounds in different divisions within the department. Our coach, Dave Boisa, always instilled the “We Can Do It” mentality coined by the famous Rosie the Riveter. As our practicing progressed, we were quite skeptical about our perceived success. Our first competition in Anaheim was nerve-wrecking. Being the only female team in an all-male-dominated competition was intimidating to say the least. But most, if not all, members of the CA-NV section could not have been more welcoming. Shout out to Eric Brennan, and his team at the City of Brentwood, (showed us the basics of pipe tapping); Boyd Shultz and Barry Crawford, (both judges who educated our team whenever possible.)

All this encouragement and support has helped every one of our team members strive to be better competitors. Their excitement to see a women’s team has motivated us to improve our skills and to be the best we can be. There have also been talks about future women teams joining. It is empowering to see women show up and represent our section and industry. Yet, none of that would be possible without the support of the AWWA members and their professional expertise and dedication to making each event a success. Thank you, CA-NV, AWWA, you have made our experience a positive one. We look forward to future competitions."
NOTE: The Lady Tappers qualified and competed during ACE June 2018 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

APRIL 2018

Photo Credit: MSantos

Stefan Cajina, P.E., Chief North Coastal Section
State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water

"As a drinking water  regulator, I know that the safety of the water supply depends most of all on the people involved in delivering water from source to tap. CA-NV AWWA events give me the chance to communicate directly with water operators, who are the bottom line in ensuring safe drinking water. I have spoken at many operator-focused sessions over the years, and these professionals have always impressed me with their dedication, knowledge, and curiosity."

JUNE 2018

L to R Barry Crawford, John Pernuela and Curtis Cobb;
Photo Credit: Curtis Cobb

Curtis Cobb, Lead Plant Operator
Palmdale Water District - Employee

"I have been attending AWWA conferences for many years and have been involved as a Competition Committee member and Top-op's contributor for the last 4 years. I have a much greater appreciation now for my colleagues, their respective skill levels and overall dedication to our noble profession. The amount of work put in by the volunteers and support by the member agencies is vital to the success of these events as they continue to grow. I encourage everyone to attend our conferences and to interact to share your knowledge, experience and passion with fellow participants. It's a great learning and bonding experience that I'm happy to take part in!"