Building Careers in the Water Industry at the Virtual Water Conservation Showcase

About 40% of the water utility workforce is eligible for retirement within five years, and 20% are eligible now. Workforce development is a big priority for water utilities. This provides a huge opportunity for students and job seekers who are looking for careers that provide a good salary while improving the quality of life in their communities by stewarding precious water resources.

This year at the Water Conservation Showcase, the online panel, “How to Build Your Career in the Water Industry” will take place on August 18 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. It will provide information about how to enter or advance along various water career paths. Panelists from the public and private sector will provide an overview of the skills and education they needed to enter the workforce, what they learned on the job, training and internship opportunities, and career resources for job seekers.

Earnest Salgado is a Water Conservation Utility Analyst at the SFPUC. “I wanted to work for the SFPUC because serving the city I love is fulfilling and an honor.” Salgado was surprised by how technical and complicated the water delivery process is. “The journey it takes for water to reach our taps is amazing to me.”

Earnest Salgado, SFPUC Water Conservation Utility Analyst, will be speaking at this year’s Water Conservation Showcase that will be held online.

His advice for those seeking to enter the water utility work force, “Sign up for tours of your local water facilities and subscribe to their newsletters. Attend free events like the Water Conservation Showcase. Getting your face and name out there and networking with professionals holds a lot of value.”

Ashley Shannon, Water Conservation Specialist with the Santa Clara Valley Water District adds, “Student internships are one of the best pathways to careers in the water industry.”

The panel will be hosted by Julie Ortiz, SFPUC Water Conservation Manager and include Salgado, Shannon, and also Michael Kushner from BAYWORK and Lindsey Fransen from WaterSmart Software.

Fransen’s career in water started in a regulatory capacity and is now focused on using technology to support water conservation. “It is exciting working at a software company that leverages Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) data to support customer engagement. Seeing hourly water use is so helpful for utilities and customers when it comes to detecting leaks early on and understanding consumption patterns to better manage demand. As California edges closer to another drought, AMI can play a key role in helping everyone meet their water conservation goals.”

This year, the Water Conservation Showcase will be virtual and registration is currently open online. Three education sessions per day will take place online on July 21 and August 4, 18 and 25. The Water Conservation Showcase is free and open to anyone interested in water conservation issues. The Showcase offers a wide variety of educational sessions, interactive workshops, and exhibitors, featuring the latest in water conservation research, products and services.

Since 2004, the Water Conservation Showcase has brought together experts, innovative products and services, and the sustainable development community to address water conservation topics including policies, rebates, business case studies, treatment innovations, stormwater management, low-impact development, water supply history, and water reuse solutions. The Water Conservation Showcase is organized through the combined efforts of the USGBC Northern California, Pacific Gas & Electric, East Bay Municipal Utility District, the SFPUC, AIA San Francisco, and San Jose Water.

Earnest Salgado (right) speaking to an event attendee at the Water Conservation Showcase held at PG&E’s Energy Center in 2019.