Friday, January 5, 2018

Cuyamaca College conference aimed at bolstering numbers of women in the water industry

          California Community Colleges Executive Vice Chancellor Van Ton-Quinlivan, a nationally recognized workforce development leader, will be the keynote speaker at a Jan. 18 Cuyamaca College conference promoting career opportunities for women in the water industry – opportunities that will continue to flourish because of an aging workforce.       

         Cuyamaca College's new Center for Water Studies is working with the National Science Foundation to increase the number of women in the water and wastewater industry, and the Women in Water: Exploring Career Pathways symposium is the latest part in that effort.
             “Women are increasingly taking leadership roles in the water industry thanks to events like this one and the efforts of schools like Cuyamaca College to train a new generation,” said Maureen Stapleton, general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority. “I’m confident that the industry and our communities will benefit from a workforce that includes a greater diversity of experiences, perspectives and problem-solving strategies. Women can – and should – be a vital part of that next wave.”
Van Ton-Quinlivan
            Women in Water: Exploring Career Pathways is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Cuyamaca College Student Center. A variety of water industry officials will lead panel discussions aimed at both those interested in launching a new career in the field and those who are already in the field but are looking for an opportunity to advance. Panelists will include women who have gone on to enjoy successful careers with water agencies and interns who are breaking into the field. Ton-Quinlivan, who was recently promoted to Executive Vice Chancellor of Workforce & Digital Futures, is set to speak at noon.
        “Van Ton-Quinlivan is known throughout California as a visionary with a laser focus on supporting programs that are impacting thousands of residents by creating and supporting career training, and we are honored to have her speak at the Women in Water conference,” said Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes. “That she will be at this important event the same day we open our Field Operations Skills Yard really underscores the role that Cuyamaca is playing in driving the regional economy.”

             The conference takes place the same day Cuyamaca College officially opens a new Field Operations Skills Yard, a fully operational water and wastewater system that students will use to replicate the tasks expected of entry level employees. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Field Operations Skills Yard is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. 
             The Field Operations Skills Yard is the first phase being built as part of Cuyamaca College’s Center for Water Studies, which will be the focal point of an upgraded and expanded Water & Wastewater Technology program at the Rancho San Diego campus. The second component of the Center for Water Studies involves completely renovating the existing L Building and moving the Water & Wastewater Technology Program into the new building once the transformation is completed in time for the Fall 2018 semester. 
              Cuyamaca College’s Water & Wastewater Technology program is the oldest and most comprehensive in the California Community Colleges system serving the water and wastewater industry. It has delivered water and wastewater management education for more than a half a century and recently secured two Workforce Star Awards from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, one of only four community colleges statewide to earn two awards in a single workforce development program.
             Water and wastewater agencies currently employ up to 5,000 people in San Diego County and provide more than 60,000 jobs statewide. The pay is good, too, with water and wastewater treatment and system operators earning an average annual wage of more than $66,000 in San Diego County, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Entry level jobs pay anywhere from $18 to $28 per hour, depending on the agencies and the work involved. 

             To register for the Women in Water: Exploring Career Pathways symposium, visit