2019 OCWA Operator Expo
Our Annual Event, Renamed to Reflect Its Purpose,
This year, our annual training event got off to a stellar start with a brand new name. The Operator Expo had everything the Orange County water community has come to expect from OCWA, though this year with added emphasis on the Operators who make all our systems flow smoothly. Everyone had a great time as they earned Certified CE training units, viewed and interacted with dozens of vendors, and enjoyed watching or participating in some very spirited competitions. Plans are already underway for next year’s event.
Special thanks are due to the many Sponsors and Exhibitors who participated in this year’s event. All their names are listed here. Without the generous support of our Sponsors, and the dedicated attention of the Exhibitors, our event would have been nowhere near the success we all enjoyed. We are especially indebted to Irvine Ranch Water District, for generously hosting our event at Rattlesnake Reservoir.
There was lot to learn and even more fun to be had at this year’s annual event. We had some 200 operators, representing 21 water agencies (both water districts and city water utilities) attend the event, and the training sessions were well attended. Each participant earned 1 contact hour for each training session attended.
In the first hour, Blair Schuler of American Flow Control, led the group through a comprehensive look at Resilient Wedge Gate Valve Operation and Uses. Beginning with an overview of the applications and operation, Schuler introduced the standards under which these valves are designed and built, the construction and functionality of each component, as well as the ‘why’ for each standard and the rationale behind the guidelines. As operators encounter a multitude of valves in the field, this topic is critically important since a strong working knowledge of their operation and use helps them understand the water system in greater detail. In addition, it helps today’s worker better understand the maintenance needs of an older infrastructure.
This presentation was followed by Kevin Keeling, Project Manager at ValveTek Utility Services, Inc., who led attendees in a presentation on NO-DES Water Main Flushing, an alternative method for flushing potable water main pipelines, including an operational zero discharge water flushing process.
NO-DES, which stands for Neutral Output Discharge Elimination System, is the only water main flushing technology available to the industry that discharges no water to waste during operation, achieves bio-film scouring velocities of 5 ft/sec in mains 12” and under, and filters out debris and sediment down to below 1 Absolute micron, all while it analyzes water flow rate and turbidity during flushing. It’s a drought resilient, environmentally-friendly flushing practice.
Keeling explained in detail how the technology functions primarily through its use of filters. Utilizing a variable speed water pump to scour pipes, and multiple filter chambers to whisk water through to remove sand, sediment, or any other debris that may be inside the system. This system can clean distribution water mains, clear and pass mains failing BAC-T tests, GAC backwashing, reservoir and tank clean outs, and provide water quality emergency response solutions.
We were very fortunate to have Huntington Beach Utilities Division agree to bring their NO-DES truck to the Expo, so attendees could both see it and ask questions of those who actually work the system. Throughout the day, many people were heard to express their appreciation for the opportunity to see the technology up close, and how pleased they were to hear the positive comments from the Huntington Beach operators.
The Pipe Tapping Contest took on a new dimension this year, with the introduction of historical records to challenge the teams to compete both against each other and to earn a place with the rankings of the past. Once again, this year’s competition was a spirited, exciting event.
The winning team, City of Santa Ana #1: “West Coast Tappers,” captured first place with a remarkable time of 1:24. Coming in second was City of Huntington Beach #1: “Surf City Tappers,” who clocked in at 1:39. Third Place went to the team from Los Angeles Department of Water & Power: “L.A. Tappers,” with a time of 1:40, while the City of Anaheim: “Tapping Monkeys,” finished fourth with a time of 1:55. Rounding out the bracket were two teams from Irvine Ranch Water District.
Santa Ana’s time moved them into second place on the all time rankings, while Huntington Beach’s score put them in sixth place for all time.
Special thanks to Boyd Schultz with Laguna Beach County Water District and Barry Crawford of the Palmdale Water District, a judge with the California-Nevada Competition, who organized and ran the Pipe Tapping Contest. They were ably assisted by Robert Aranda, from LBCWD. The scorekeeper for the event was Boris Paspalof with Palmdale Water District. Set up for the event was done the day before by crews from both IRWD and LBCWD, while cleanup during the event was ably handled by Gonzalo Garcia of LBCWD and a crew from Yorba Linda Water District. Afterwards, teams from the City of Santa Ana, Laguna Beach County Water District, Yorba Linda Water District, and Palmdale Water District assisted with dismantling and the final cleanup of the event.
In the morning’s other event, the Horseshoe Competition, there was a marked increase in participation, made all the more interesting by the addition of a women’s contest. Ably organized and run by Fred Ojeda, Jeremy Smith, and Anthony Varian from Yorba Linda Water District, the spirited event was a real crowd pleaser, with many close matches. On the men’s side, first place was taken by Nick Isbell and Jeremy Smith from Yorba Linda Water District, while the team of Jeremy Scott and Dean Escobedo from Serrano Water District came in a close second. For the women, Meredith Church and Brynn McCulloch from Leighton Group took first place, and Jaqueline Segura and Keri Hollon from Yorba Linda Water District finished in second.
The morning’s educational sessions and competitions were capped off with a delicious lunch catered by Blake’s Place of Anaheim, followed by an opportunity drawing with a great range of prizes donated by the sponsors and vendors, everything from a tool bags to wrenches, bluetooth speakers to gift cards.
All agreed it was a great day of education and competition, and everyone left looking forward to next year’s event. Should you have suggestions for next year’s event, contact the OCWA Board. We look forward to hearing from you.