The People of ACWD
Each day, ACWD employees work to meet our mission of providing a reliable supply of high quality drinking water to our customers.
We are proud of the dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled professionals who are committed to our customers and the services we provide.
Here, we have the chance to introduce you to just a few!
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook @AlamedaCountyWD for immediate updates on when we post a new employee profile.
Mike, Auto Mechanic
You may not see him often, but you will see his work driving around daily. That is because Mike is one of two ACWD highly skilled auto mechanics. With more than 35 years of auto mechanic experience, Mike specializes as a heavy equipment diesel mechanic.
Mike has always enjoyed working on heavy equipment - tractors, trains, and off-road heavy equipment. Fixing things and problem solving is second nature. The work he does is behind the scenes, ensuring District vehicles are safe and equipment is reliable so field crews can do their jobs. In doing so, Mike earns their confidence, and that's important to him.
Mike began his District career five years ago, and although he has extensive experience as a mechanic, the water industry was new to him. Now, he sees that even from the mechanic shop, the work he does plays a part in providing an essential service to the community of which he both works and lives in. Mike states that water is vital to life, and knowing that his job helps to contribute to the service provided to the Tri-Cities is rewarding.
Mike enjoy's travelling with his wife and two dogs, Roxy and Gunnar. They are explorers and love the outdoors, spending time in their camper and riding their utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) - the Mohave Desert is one of their favorite places! Mike says that Roxy is fearless, and rides along on the UTV - she loves to bark at the wind.
Something most people may not know about Mike is that he cooks and gardens! Mike states that there is nothing like fresh vegetables grown in your backyard. For him, it's corn, tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers. Fresh being the best! Mike adds his homegrown tomatoes to tacos, one of his favorite foods to make. When the weekends are spent at home, you can find him smoking ribs and tri-tip, relaxing in the yard and enjoying the comfortable Bay Area weather.
A fun fact about Mike is that in May 2017, he received special recognition from the ACWD Board of Directors for a suggestion he made relating to the operations of the mechanic shop. It was a cost-saving measure and a benefit to the District. Go Mike!
"Water is vital to life, and knowing that my job helps to contribute to the service provided to the Tri-Cities is rewarding."
*As of 10/2018
Sharene, Senior Public Affairs Specialist
As the Senior Public Affairs Specialist, Sharene helps to implement District communications and community engagement goals. She says she is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work on a variety of projects and collaborate with all departments throughout the District. Sharene takes pride in her work knowing that water is such an essential part of life and that she gets to share information about its importance. One of her most challenging, yet rewarding projects to date was to coordinate a volunteer effort to paint water conservation murals on District facilities along Alameda Creek. This project had detailed components and the timeline was very short, which is often the case in public affairs, but the outcome was great! ACWD staff and volunteers worked together and to this day, the murals remain an artistic way to remind us to all conserve water.
Sharene's most rewarding aspect of her job is knowing that the work she does raises awareness about water, and with that, knowing that we can each have a positive impact on our environment. When she is talking with customers and children during events or tours, she gets to share in that "ah-ha" moment when folks learn the ripple effects of conservation, that some of their water comes from Alameda Creek watershed, or that ACWD operates a desalination facility in Newark. Recently, Sharene worked with over 200 First LEGO League Challenge participants, giving them tours of our treatment facility and discussing our treatment processes. She loves when she can be creative and take technical and complex topics like treatment and make it fun and relatable. When she sees the excitement in kids' eyes and know she sparked interest in their young minds or piqued curiosity that may evoke change - that is the real reward.
In her free time, Sharene enjoys being active - hiking, practicing yoga, and taking spontaneous day trips. Sharene teaches Hot Pilates and enjoys leading her students through their wellness journey. And yet, she is also happy to relax at home, cook, and binge watch true-crime investigation shows. And what is her favorite fact about water you ask? That we drink the same water dinosaurs drink! The water cycle is an amazing thing and through its process allows water to recycle.
"When I see the excitement in kids' eyes and know that I sparked interest in their young minds or piqued curiosity that may evoke change - that is the real reward."
*As of 08/2018
Ryan, Laboratory Technician
With a curious mind and an interest in chemistry, Ryan collects samples throughout the water distribution system to ensure it remains safe to drink. Ryan says that the beauty of his job is the variation of tasks - there is field work, desk work, and lab work so he gets to mix it up, which he says he likes. When Ryan is in the field, he and the other technicians visit 53 sample points weekly. They take small collections of finished water, water that has already been treated, so that it can be tested at our state-certified lab.
Ryan describes his co-workers as an extension of his family and he enjoys working with them all. Lab work requires teamwork and he is proud to be part of a great team - co-workers he considers to be friends. They each lend support to complete whatever the task is at hand, and everyone steps up to the plate regardless. Ryan says that enjoying the people you work with makes a huge difference and he says that the friendships he's made over the last four years at ACWD are the most rewarding part of his job - that it makes it easy to come to work.
Due to his job, Ryan often talks with customers when he is near sampling stations. He loves that customers have questions and are truly interested in the work he does - such as, is the water safe to drink? How do you test the water? The list goes on. One day, he had a customer and his two young daughters approach him and the girls asked if he could show them "the magic trick that makes the water change color". What they wanted to see was how the water changes to pink during a chlorine test which indicates sufficient chlorine as been added to treat the water. Although Ryan knows the science behind the test, he says he did feel like a magician when the girls' face lit up with excitement as the beaker shifted from clear to pink. He states that their reaction was the magic.
What does Ryan do outside of work? Well, Ryan feels life is best enjoyed through experiences and exploration. For him, that is travelling. He enjoys visiting new countries, experiencing the food, culture, people, and outdoor activities. His favorite vacation destination to date has been Thailand - he loved it. As a Bay Area native, Ryan likes to escape to warm climates that are best suited for the activities he enjoys most - hiking, snorkeling, and riding ATV's. Ryan's future plans include visiting Vietnam, Japan, and the Philippines. But, he says all of that in due time; he's saving up - it's all a balance.
When it comes to his curious side, Ryan says his super power of choice would be teleportation because he could get anywhere in 10 seconds. With that, it sounds like Ryan could start checking off his vacation destinations.
"Their reaction was the magic."
*As of 08/2018
David, Utility Worker III
If a customer calls our emergency hotline to report a leak, a water pressure issue, or other emergency, chances are David will be the first responder. With more than 20 years on the job, David, a Utility Worker III and Newark native is committed to providing excellent customer service with prompt assessments of emergencies and other customer needs. Whether it's as simple as replacing a broken water meter lid, or as critical as a full-scale main rupture, David is prepared to control the incident through his years of experience and training received in the Incident Command System (ICS). His vital role as the first on scene incident commander, assure customers will get their water back in service in a timely manner.
On any given day, David may respond to as many as 20 calls. A customer's water service my be interrupted, and quickly identifying the cause for water loss is important. Their response time is typically less than one hour, with more rapid response for critical safety and property damage emergencies. Quick action not only gets the customers back in service but reduces water waste that may be caused by leaks or a broken water line. Because safety is a priority, David's role in contacting Underground Service Alert (USA) to identify other underground utilities is very important. "When making water main repairs, we want to ensure gas, electric, and sewer, communication lines, are properly marked to beginning repair work to ensure safety of those on scene."
In working with potable water distribution lines, it's critical to follow proper regulatory protocol. David possesses a State Water Resources Control Board Distribution II certification; this demonstrates his knowledge, skills, and ability to meet regulatory standards. He is also certified to operate a backhoe. In fact, David notes, "Through my 20 years' experience, I have become very proficient."
Having had a lengthy career with the District, David's biggest professional accomplishment was back in 2006, ACWD had sent him and five others to provide mutual aid in recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina, "witnessing firsthand devastation and disaster was humbling and something I'll never forget." They worked from sunrise to sunset for 12 straight days to help restore water service.
"We lost count of how many repairs were made, but knowing I was able to help during that crisis- that is my biggest professional accomplishment."
*As of 04/2017
Jason, Water Controller I
Meet Jason, he's been with ACWD since July 6, 1998! During his time here, he's had the opportunity to hold three different positions, which have given him the chance to learn, grow, and be promoted within the agency.
As a water controller, he is involved in a host of activities along Alameda Creek and our watershed. What Jason find most rewarding, but challenging, is predicting rainfall amounts and projected flow rates that help us make decisions on how to effectively capture as much water as is needed. In addition to these responsibilities, Jason may interact with 10-15 members of the public, with that, he keeps his customer service philosophy simple: "treat others as I like to be treated".
Because he interacts regularly with customers, it gives him an opportunity to explain ACWD's operations to the public so you can understand how we optimize water flows, while meeting regulations.
One of his most interesting experiences on the job occurred along Alameda Creek, when he saw a bald eagle cruising above the creek bed near Niles. Having lived around Fremont for more than 35 years, Jason never expected to see a bald eagle. He states, "That was a great day at work"!
"Water is such an important resource and being able to be a part of providing it to our customers is an honor."
*As of 04/2017
David, Customer Account Field Representative
Sometimes while working with ACWD, we may have employees that don't just have one duty; instead they may perform a multitude of tasks. These skills are highly valuable because it allows our staff to be extremely flexible and able to assist each other in different areas. With 15 years of service and countless hours walked to provide meter reading and customer service, we are pleased to introduce David, our Customer Account Field Representative.
David wears several hats in his role, these include: meter reading, collections, turning service on and off, in-office customer service support, and he also serves on the Safety Committee. Before starting his career with ACWD, David worked in retail management and the technology industry. But when the tech industry took a turn, he decided with his background in customer service and interest in giving back to the community, that he truly wanted a career in public service.
What David finds most rewarding in helping customers is since he is in the field all day; he may be the only interaction our customers have with the District. He's had several instances when reading a meter and customers come out to talk with him. David uses that opportunity to show them how to read their meter as well as check for leaks.
David states that there was one particularly challenging day where, "I was on a route and got caught in a rain and lightning storm and all I could think about was, 'I'm in a lightning storm walking around with a metal stick.' The stick is a meter reading stick used to manipulate meter lids." He brings this story up to point out that people have the misconception that his job entails only walking to read meters. That said, he's out in 100 degree temperatures or when it's cold and rainy. Add to that, the hazards of dog bites, vehicle traffic, and the physical demands of walking 8 miles a day year after year- it's a lot more than just walking. But David takes pride in what he does knowing our customers deserve the best possible service.
"Each duty has its benefits and challenges but I enjoy my work most when I'm able to help customers."
*As of 04/2017
Sylvia, Treatment Facility Operator
In our mission to provide clean, safe, and reliable drinking water at a reasonable price, we are pleased to introduce our employees who work to ensure this happens. Meet Sylvia, a treatment facility operator who uses her training, knowledge, and experience to safeguard your drinking water supply.
Sylvia's career in water operations began in 2005 while working for another municipality. She began learning about water main installations, and as her fascination grew, she wanted to grow with and contribute to an organization. Sylvia joined ACWD in 2008 and hasn't looked back. Over the years, she has obtained, and currently possesses, three State of California certifications, including: American Water Works Association Water Quality Analyst Grade 2; Water Distribution Operator Grade 3; and a Water Treatment Operator Grade 3.
In order for Sylvia to prepare to operate a water treatment facility, certifications and ongoing training is key. Water treatment operators are responsible for public health and safety, and providing water that meets or exceeds state and federal regulations is a priority. She states, "It is equally important to have both a high level of skill and the knowledge necessary to take charge of operating a water treatment facility." They are trained to act quickly and to be responsive in the event of unplanned situations which are key in delivering an uninterrupted water supply.
As a treatment facility operator, Sylvia and the other operator's decisions directly impact the quality and quantity of the drinking water delivered to our customers. Speaking of community, Sylvia notes, "ACWD demonstrates community involvement in many ways; one is by sponsoring an employee a year to participate in the Fremont Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Fremont Program." Sylvia happily represented ACWD in 2015 and says, "I gained personal and professional growth through my participation." Most recently, she participated in the Tri-City Health Center's Superhero Run.
"I'm proud to be part of an organization that delivers such an important and necessary resource to the community."
*As of 04/2017
Monica, Customer Account Representative
At ACWD, we work to provide excellent customer service and are here to answer questions you may have. Monica, a customer account representative, interfaces with hundreds of customers each week and is dedicated to delivering superior service when it matters most.
Although the tasks Monica completes each day are typical, no two days are the same. When working with customers, she is addressing a range of questions, inquiries, or concerns - this may be done in person, online, or over the phone. One customer may call to begin or cancel service while another may want to learn more about drought restrictions or conservation incentives and rebates. She always enjoys sharing conservation tips and informing customers about the resources available to help reduce water use or lower their bill. When Monica is not interfacing one-on-one with customers, she works to resolve billing issues, "I enjoy research and problem solving to provide a resolution."
Being in customer service requires vast knowledge of a variety of topics - billing and conservation to name a few. Monica came into this position with a Bachelor of Science degree and has over 25 years of experience working in the private and public sector. She has been with ACWD since 2009, during which time; her topics of interest have evolved. In order to be successful at her job, Monica keeps up to date with rates and billing information, customer consumption, conservation, and the District's mandatory water use restrictions. Monica notes, "It's important to stay abreast of these topics to best help our customers."
Since customer service professionals are in high demand, Monica chose ACWD when a family friend, who had retired from the District, told her about a job opportunity. Having spent the majority of her career working in customer service, she was, "excited to join an agency with a stellar reputation."
"I enjoy working with people on a one-on-one basis and find it rewarding to help customers."
*As of 04/2017
Ranga, Groundwater Resources Engineer
With nearly 40 percent of our water supply coming from local groundwater, the
monitoring and protection of our underground reservoir is essential. Ranga, groundwater resources engineer, is part of a team that helps protect and manage this critically important local resource.
Ranga joined the District in 2003 because it allows him to make an effective contribution to groundwater protection at the local level. As a resident of Fremont, he uses his skills and advanced degree in civil and environmental engineering to do work that directly impact his community. His professional certifications include: registered professional engineer; water distribution and water treatment operator certifications. Because of his interest in technology, he's also obtained a certificate in information systems from UC Berkeley.
Although Ranga wears multiple hats, his current concentration is overseeing 32 sites for soil and groundwater restoration - restoration from pollution from underground fuel tank sites and large manufacturing industries. A handful of these are land restoration projects, where former industrial sites that are vacant and are being developed. Overall, his role is divided into four primary functions: a regulator for groundwater; reclamation of the groundwater basin from historical saltwater intrusion; managing the groundwater replenishment assessment; and serving on the District's Information Systems Technical Advisory Committee.
Each year, as he promotes Groundwater Awareness Week, Ranga has the opportunity to bring science into area high schools with a presentation that includes a hands-on groundwater model that demonstrates the effects of pollution. Outside of work, Ranga is an active scout parent who loves to spend time with his family exploring outdoors, "I enjoy traveling with my family, cooking, tinkering with gadgets, and learning new technology."
"I enjoy teaching as it allows me to engage and motivate young minds."
*As of 04/2017