You might think that a water resources agency depends on employees with vast knowledge of water infrastructure engineering, and you’d be right.
But did you know that the Santa Clara Valley Water District also relies on staff with expertise in electrical engineering, construction management, laboratory sciences, and wildlife biology? We have dam safety experts, equipment mechanics, graphic designers and GIS technicians. We have real estate professionals, hydrographers and surveyors. And, of course, there are accountants and human resources specialists, network engineers and communications professionals.
All are critical in managing, developing and maintaining the complex system that helps us carry out our three-pronged mission of ensuring a safe and reliable water supply, protecting businesses and homes through flood protection and protecting our environment by caring for streams and creek ecosystems.
This week is Water Professionals Appreciation Week in California. We’re celebrating the second anniversary of this event after it was established by a state senate concurrent resolution last fall. During this time we’d like to acknowledge and appreciate the men and women that make up our diverse workforce. Meet some of them in our “People Behind Your Water” series on our Youtube channel.
Our employees are our greatest asset, and our workforce ranges in all sorts of disciplines as well as characteristics. We’re proud of our diverse makeup in age, ethnicity and gender. Our labor force spans across three generations with 31 percent Baby Boomers, 46 percent Generation Xers, and 23 percent Millennials. And we’re made up of 40 percent women and 60 percent men. Women are proportionally represented in the agency’s leadership, occupying about 40 percent of executive management and supervising positions. We’re also quite representative of the community we serve, with 55 percent of our workforce made up of minorities and 45 percent non-minorities. Our richly diverse employees play a pivotal role in maintaining and repairing our water infrastructure, preserving our environment and keeping our creeks healthy, so that as a whole, our agency can ensure a reliable water supply and help protect residents no matter what the changing climate brings.
Part of the water district’s vision of preparing for the future means investing in our workforce. To plan for the future, we believe in cultivating a legacy of leaders in the water industry. With a growing series of internship programs, we are cultivating the next generation of water stewards. The district’s newest internship program allows for students in the Water Resources Management Program to complete a rotational internship that gives interns exposure at each of the district’s three water treatment plants and purification center.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District is also a member of BAYWORK, a cohort of Bay Area water and wastewater agencies working to ensure workforce reliability. This coalition works to create awareness of the importance of water careers and provides training and development opportunities for current water professionals.
Curious about becoming a water professional? Check out some of our current opportunities online or find more information and resources at BAYWORK. College and graduate students can learn about our internship programs here.