Op-Ed: High-Tech Careers Abound in California’s Water Industry

When you think of high tech in Silicon Valley, your mind immediately goes to the latest app or newest device. What you probably don’t think of is the “water” industry. You turn on your tap and there it is … clean, fresh water, a fundamental building block we often take for granted.

What you probably don’t know is that the water industry is a leader in innovation, creating demand for exciting careers at all levels in a field that is essential to our health, safety and well-being.

The need for well-trained individuals is greater than ever here in California. Unfortunately, experts assure us that—from droughts to forest fires—we will continue to contend with numerous water-related challenges.

That’s why the time is now to ensure that we are carefully allocating this scarce resource among the many groups that need it for survival—from households and businesses, to the agriculture and natural resource sectors.

The good news is that the water industry takes its role very seriously and is continuously working toward technological advances that will assure local residents a steady supply of safe, high-quality water.

We boast some of the cleanest tap water here in Silicon Valley, have developed state-of-the-art recycled water systems and have built reliable and sustainable water infrastructure, among many other innovative solutions.

But our need to fill the pipeline with innovators is great. We need more students, entrepreneurs and seasoned professionals to lend their curiosity, talent and expertise to be part of the answer for new solutions and ways of thinking about water and sustainability.

California Water Service (Cal Water) recently held our first career day at our headquarters in downtown San Jose as a way to introduce this dynamic industry to tomorrow’s future leaders. Nearly 200 San Jose Unified School District high school students got an exclusive look at the ins and outs of the evolving water industry with the goal of showcasing a wide variety of potential career options—from how to design water systems to how to test, detect and fix water leaks.

The opportunities for a successful career in the water industry are available to those at all levels, from students pursuing vocational training to those with advanced degrees. To name just a sampling of positions, the water industry is recruiting specialists in chemical engineering, emergency preparedness, information technology, environmental science, accounting, human resources, customer service and technical fields.

Those seeking a position in the field will enjoy competitive wages, job security in a stable industry and the chance for upward mobility. And, even more exciting, they will be faced with innovative issues to tackle and experience the rewards that come with pursuing a career that allows you to play a role in protecting public health and making a difference in your community.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, a staunch advocate of good water policy and the use of technology to advance the field, joined us to emphasize the critical role that water plays in our region and the many fascinating career paths that are available. To help prime the pump, he offered 20 scholarships from Cal Water to teens signing up for a water utility training course, which is just one of the programs offered.  Cal Water has also established a separate scholarship program to assist students pursuing a degree in any field of study.

To support our fast-growing Valley, we need to find solutions to improve recycling, storage ability, infrastructure and access to clean water. And, those answers will come from bright, young, driven people in our community.

To find out more about this exciting career path and apply for one of our scholarships, we invite you to visit our website.

Martin Kropelnicki is President and CEO of California Water Service. In addition to leading one of the largest water utilities in the country, he serves as a director for the Bay Area Council and the California Foundation on the Environment and Economy. Kropelnicki is the past president of the National Association of Water Companies and currently serves on its executive committee and board of directors. Opinions in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].

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