Linda Candelaria is creating sustainability through Pollution Prevention

For Linda Candelaria who serves as the Acting Pretreatment Program Manager at the SFPUC, having a job that protects Mother Nature from pollution is something that didn’t happen by chance.

“I have always felt a connection to nature and have gravitated towards it, ” said Linda.

Linda and her husband are rock and ice climbers and enjoy spending time outdoors. The couple are also proud owners of a 20-foot climbing wall in their backyard, and enjoy sharing their love of the outdoors with their family, neighbors and colleagues.

“Protecting the environment from pollution that causes irreversible damage is something that is always top of mind… we only have one world and we need to preserve it, Linda explained.”

With a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and a minor in Chemistry from Oregon State University, Linda decided to go back to school after 2 years in the field to further obtain a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at Cal State Northridge prior to devoting the past 8 years to her current role at the SFPUC.

“I started my career working in an environmental laboratory and I wanted to understand the governmental polices that directed the regulations we had to comply with. What are the drivers to these requirements?  My role as the Acting Pretreatment Program Manager for the SFPUC allows me to apply my science background and utilizes the education I gained from studying governmental polices. I feel so fortunate to be in this role.  Understanding the development of regulations helps me understand how to deal with pollutants, some of which we are seeing for the very first time,” said Linda.

Linda describes her everyday role as one that supports staff to be able to accomplish the important work that they do. Their collective work to protect the environment and public health is something that may go un-noticed by most. But for Linda, like many of those who contribute to the successes of the SFPUC, every bit counts.

“Everything we do has an impact,” explained Linda. “We need to think of the future of our communities and we need to protect the natural resources we enjoy and that sustain life.”

Linda with a family member during a recent visit to Yellowstone National Park

Pollution prevention is particularly important to the wastewater industry. Both the liquids and solids are treated during wastewater treatment. Linda further explained that with water and biosolids (the nutrient-rich, soil-like product of the wastewater treatment process), can be used as a synthetic fertilizer replacement and soil amendment. This is a crucial and abundant end product that is important to prevent pollutants from entering the wastewater stream.

Linda says that the vast majority of residents, commercial, and industrial businesses want to do the right thing, but many times they don’t lack the full scope of information when it comes to properly disposing of common pollutants -used cooking oil, lead, motor oil, medications, and other miscellaneous items that aren’t readily recyclable or compostable.  Linda and her team perform routine inspections at various sites throughout the city to identify key pollutants of concern and to educate on proper disposal practices to decrease the rate at which pollutants enter our sanitary sewer. 

During Pollution Prevention Week from September 21st to the 27th, the SFPUC we will be talking all things pollution prevention. Join us for a virtual tour on September 23, 12-1pm where we will explore pollution prevention practices; register at Follow us @sfwater on social media to keep up with Pollution Prevention Week education and daily tips.