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volume 2 - resource management Strategies

water used. Neither of these laws addresses smaller water systems that do not meet the definition of an urban water supplier.

However, many larger water agencies have already taken advantage of conservation programs to reduce the need for new water supplies. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has shown success in conservation where water use today is the same as it was 25 years ago, despite an increase in population of nearly 1 million people (LADWP, 2007). Obtaining additional increases in conservation will be more difficult and may result in higher costs to achieve.

To address water losses, or unaccounted for water, water utilities are conducting audits to identify water main leaks, unmetered water use for parks and recreation consumption, water theft and inaccurate meters. Deteriorated and aging infrastructure can play an important role in water losses, contributing to significant water leakage and a high rate of main breaks.

Maintaining a Trained Workforce

The State of California requires that operators of water treatment plants and distribution systems receive certification to perform these duties. This certification is designed to ensure that operators have adequate knowledge, experience, and training to properly operate these facilities. In view of the increased complexity of water system facilities, the importance of properly trained and certified operators is increasing.

Sustaining a trained workforce to maintain an adequate level of qualified oversight at water treatment plants and operation of distribution systems has been identified as an important issue. This is in part a result of the increased number of people from the large Baby Boomer generation beginning to leave the workforce. CDPH data indicate that the average age of operators certified in California is about 50 years, while Grade 5 treatment plant operators (the highest treatment certification available) is greater than 55 years of age (Jordan, 2006). Many water utilities will lose 30 to 50 percent of their current workforce within the next 5 to 7 years, which will result in an unprecedented knowledge drain. A knowledge-retention strategy is necessary to ensure long-term success.

Knowledge-retention, broadly termed “succession planning,” is the process of identifying and preparing suitable employees through mentoring, training, and job rotation, to replace key players—such as treatment or utility managers—within an organization as their current managers retire. Succession planning will grow in importance in the near future to ensure the transfer of knowledge as less experienced staff moves into higher decision-making positions. This issue applies to both the public and private water sector, as well as the government agencies in place to regulate the water industry. Graduating engineering students show a noticeable lack of interest in the water industry.


caLifoRnia WateR PLan | update 2009

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