orange countY
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. . . to foster advancement in the Water Works Industry . . . 

2021 OCWA Operator Expo

Our Annual Event Returns after a Year of Lockdown
with a Large Crowd, Many Vendors,
and a Full Slate of Training Sessions and Competitions

This year’s Operator Expo had everything the Orange County water community has come to expect from OCWA: a strong slate of training sessions, a wide array of spirited competitions, and a delicious barbecue lunch. Everyone had a great time as they earned Certified CE training units, interacted with dozens of vendors, and enjoyed watching or participating in the contests. 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. Twenty-two Vendors joined us to display their products, demonstrate their uses, and answer all the operator’s questions. In addition, eight Sponsors stepped forward to help ensure the success of the day. The names of all our Sponsors and the Vendors 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 once again 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 23 water agencies from Orange and Los Angeles counties sign-up for the event, and the training sessions were well-attended. Each participant earned 1 contact hour for each training session attended.

In the first hour, Dik Haz of Vega Americas, led the group through a compre­hensive look at Measurement Technology: Solutions for the Water/Wastewater Industry. In his thorough examination of the topic, Mr Haz discussed a wide array of topics, everything from level and pressure to switching and connectivity.

This presentation was followed by a thorough overview of Fire Hydrant Maintenance. Led by Richard Lesma, with CLOW, and Matt Armstrong from M&H, attendees were shown a multitude of approaches to the different hydrants available on the market today. At the conclusion of the session, there was a demonstration of a relatively new skill challenge for water operators: Hydrant Hysteria.

Hydrant Hysteria is a competition that measures a two-person team’s skill at assembling a hydrant quickly, completely, and accurately. All parts must be assembled in the proper manner and the reassembled hydrant is then tested by the judges for its ability to operate correctly. A team from Huntington Beach Utilities Division was on-hand to demonstrate the competition. It is hoped by next year other agencies will field enough teams to make a true competition of it. A number of people expressed interest in learning more. For those looking for guidance in putting together a team, Boyd Schultz, of Laguna Beach County Water District, is available to provide both guidance and support. Boyd can be reached at

This year’s Pipe Tapping Contest was a little different from events in the past. Because of the pandemic, many teams didn’t have their usual opportunity to practice and prepare for the event, so the field of teams was considerably smaller than usual. We did have four teams show up however, enough for a rousing competition.

The winning team, City of Anaheim’s “Production Tappers” captured first place with a respectable time of 1:53.22. Second place was taken by the “West Coast Tappers” from the City of Santa Ana with a time of 1:59.66. The “Tappers” almost didn’t compete. Just prior to the start of competition, the team’s “Copper Man” was called back to the City Yard for an emergency. Faced with imminent disqualification, the team asked Jake Bryant, who was at the Expo as part of the Huntington Beach Hydrant Hysteria demonstration team, if he would “tap in” and take the missing man’s place. Jake was happy to step up and help his fellow water workers. A true case of good sportsmanship and camaraderie.

Special thanks to Boyd Schultz with Laguna Beach County Water District who organized and ran the Pipe Tapping Contest. Set up for the event was done the day before by crews from both IRWD and LBCWD. Afterwards, teams from the City of Santa Ana, City of Anaheim, and Irvine Ranch Water District assisted with dismantling and the final cleanup of the event.

In the morning’s other event, the Horseshoe Competition, over 16 teams signed up for what turned into a spirited competition. Ably organized and run by Fred Ojeda from Yorba Linda Water District, the event was a real crowd pleaser, with many close matches. First Place was taken by a team from Irvine Ranch Water District, while Second Place went to a team from City of Santa Ana. There was also a women’s team competition. Unfortunately, only one team signed up, from City of Huntington Beach, so those two women competed against each other. First Place went to Maria Miller, while her teammate, Renic Blodgett, took Second Place. It is hoped additional women’s teams will participate next year so there can be a true competition.

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 tool bags to camp seats, power tools to gift cards.

All agreed it was a great day of education and compe­ti­tion, and every­one left look­ing forward to 2022’s event. Should you have suggestions for improving next year’s event, contact the OCWA Board. We look forward to hearing from you.

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