IN THIS ISSUE
The Power of Public Works! Each year, during APWA’s National Public Works Week, our staff invites the public, teachers and students of all ages to celebrate the contribution Public Works makes to their communities: in planning, building, managing and operating in the heart of our local communities and our quality of life.
From providing clean water to disposing of solid waste, to roads and bridges and transportation planning, to emergency management strategies and more – this event illustrated to all who attended the true Power of Public Works. NPWW gives us the opportunity to celebrate our departments, employees and give special recognition to our VCPWA Employees of the Year and nominees. Be sure to watch the PWW video!
This edition of The Works also explores our exciting collaborative Wet Weather study with students from California State University Channel Islands and the continued strong data results we are collecting from the ongoing Raptor Pilot study.
And last but certainly not least, we invite all of our employees, friends and families to download the new VCPWA Connect! app. It’s a great way to help keep our County beautiful and maintained.
Jeff Pratt, Public Works Agency Director
The Ventura County Public Works Agency works hard every day to ensure our community is running smoothly. VCPWA operates under the County’s values and shares its mission to provide a high quality of life for our citizens, delivering superior customer services and achieving the highest professional standards. But we need your help! By better understanding the world around us and how our actions affect the environment and our quality of life, we can work together to keep our county beautiful and efficient! VCPWA has 5 powerful departments that work together to ensure our citizens have access to seamless services. Get to know each department!
You most likely interact with this department on a daily basis! The Transportation Department connects us all through planning, designing and maintaining the roads and associated shoulders, drainage, signs, signals, and striping needed to keep people safe on the roads. The department also makes the roads we have safer and more travelable by filling potholes and resurfacing roads through our multi-year paving plan.
You could call this department the powerhouse and central hub of the Public Works Agency. Central Services (CSD) provides agency-wide support services in the areas of real estate, information technology, facilities, human resources, payroll and fiscal and budgeting all while promoting job safety, emergency preparedness and safety training. Additional innovative cost and time saving programs have come from the hub – CSD.
Did you turn on a tap or flush a toilet today? Then you experienced the power of this department. The Water & Sanitation Department provides high-quality water supply to meet the community’s needs in the Ventura County Waterworks District and collects, treats and disposes of wastewater safely and efficiently. Its Integrated Waste Management Division plays a powerful role in our environment. It reduces solid waste, prevents pollution, and promotes the sustainable management of waste materials primarily in unincorporated communities.
New fire stations, hospitals and buildings – innovation is at the core of this department! The Engineering Services Department provides a wide range of services to Ventura County. The division manages architectural contracts while overseeing construction projects, land development, flood and land surveying. The department also manages contracts for Public Works Agency’s engineering and architectural needs.
With the recent fires and rain, this department has been working to keep us all safe in a powerful effort. The Watershed Protection District works to control and conserve flood and stormwaters while providing protection of watercourses, watersheds, public highways, life and property from damage or destruction from these flood waters.
Thank you for joining us for Public Works Day 2018!
As part of National Public Works Week, more than 700 youth and 300 adults attended Ventura County Public Works Agency’s (VCPWA) annual Public Works Day event. The Government Center’s Parking Lot G was filled with heavy-equipment demonstrations, interactive displays, and career and informational booths.
From over 30 interactive booths teaching kids the importance of public works in maintaining the various infrastructures in the county to conference rooms featuring hands-on augmented topography and informative discussions on VCPWA’s Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, to the always-popular live demonstrations of heavy equipment in action, there was something for everyone to see and learn about at Ventura County Public Works Week.
Education was a huge part of this event with the county’s expanded career booths, highlighting the many career opportunities at a public works agency. High school and college students were encouraged to explore the many subjects in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to prepare for future jobs– and to ensure future generations have the resources they need to thrive.
In addition, students learned about aquifers and the need for conservation, worm composting and sign making. Professionals from VCPWA’s five departments as well as the surrounding cities were also present to teach the kids about the many fields in public works. Each child received their very own goodie bag packed full with an activity book, seed packets and a special rubber traffic light from the PWA Transportation Department to take home.
This year’s event was a huge success and we are proud of how our entire VCPWA staff represented the skill, professionalism and the FUN in what we get to do every day on the job. We hope we have inspired a whole new generation to consider the field of Public Works as a career option. Thank you again to everyone that helped make this event happen. We can’t wait to see what next year brings!
Every quarter our department directors award Employees of the Quarter and those team members become nominees for VCPWA’s 2018 Employees of the Year. Employees of the Year are selected for their superior accomplishments and leadership. At the Board of Supervisors’ National Public Works Week proclamation, VCPWA Director Jeff Pratt announced Raul Ruiz from Water and Sanitation, Debra Cavaletto from Central Services, and Jim Van Voorhis from Engineering Services as 2018 Employees of the Year.
Congratulations to our nominees and winners! Thank you for all you do! See the Employee of the 3rd Quarter winners here.
The Ventura County Public Works Agency has demonstrated that hawks and owls appear to be more effective than poisons for controlling rodent damage to critical levee facilities which protect life and property from flood damage. VCWPA recently presented findings from its Raptor Study for Levee Protection to the Board of Supervisors comparing raptor perches to rodenticide treatments on a levee system in Oxnard. Levees and dams provide the public with critical protection from flooding. Study results indicate sites where raptor perches were installed had about 50% less ground squirrel burrowing damage than similar sites protected by anticoagulant rodenticides. The VCPWA study marks the first time any agency has conducted a study of this kind.
THE PROGRAM HAS GARNERED MANY OF POSITIVE ACCOLADES INCLUDING:
- OWL Award presented by the Earth Island Institute
- Earth Day Award presented by Ventura County Board of Supervisors
- Environmental Stewardship Award presented by State of California Senator Fran Pavley
- Environmental Project of the Year presented by the American Public Works Association, Ventura County Chapter
- Environmental Thank You Award from Poison Free Malibu
As part of the Raptor Pilot Study, VCPWA staff installed 14 raptor perches, one hawk nesting platform, and one owl nesting box along the Revolon Slough in Oxnard, which consists of flood control levees that have been plagued by burrowing rodents. During the 17-month research period, the staff recorded approximately 50% less burrow damage to the levee where perches were installed and observed red-tailed hawks, and other local hawks and owls using the perches and hunting.
Expansion of the Raptor Pilot Study into a full program is underway and includes building raptor perches and owl nesting boxes at other flood control facilities along with a comprehensive inspection and burrow grouting program. A series of speaking engagements are also planned to share this knowledge and encourage others to use the power of nature instead of poisons to control rodents in our watersheds.
“We think that comprehensive monitoring and continued expansion of the raptor program will result in cost effective and environmentally safe rodent control throughout our watersheds.”
-Karl Novak, VCPWA Deputy Director of Operations and Maintenance
This past winter season of 2017/2018, California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI) environmental studies students had the opportunity to experience firsthand how to properly collect water quality samples and evaluate bacteria pollution sources affecting our local beaches after a large storm and how to improve beach water quality. The partnership, started by Ventura County Public Works Agency (VCPWA), is in its first year.
The wet weather study took place at Kiddie and Hobie beaches in the Channel Islands Harbor. It was led by the scientists from the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP), in a partnership with the Ventura County Public Health Laboratory (VCPHL) and CSUCI. “It’s cool to be involved in something so close to home and to understand how Public Works handle problems like this,” said Nick Cooper, a junior at CSUCI who is studying Environmental Science and Resource Management.
The students collected water samples for bacteria testing at the VCPHL facility in Oxnard, CA. A portion of each sample was transported to Costa Mesa, CA for human marker analysis at the SCCWRP laboratory. The data will be evaluated to learn where the bacteria pollution is coming from during storm events. “The next step will be tracking bacteria pollution sources within the areas draining to the beaches during storm events.” Ewelina Mutkowska, VCPWA’s Stormwater Program Manager, who also added, “once pollution sources are identified, VCPWA in collaboration with City of Oxnard and other Agencies will develop a cost effective strategy to reduce bacteria pollution and improve the water quality to comply with the Clean Water Act.”
Mutkowska was excited about the opportunity to educate students about the importance of caring for our local beaches.
“In the end, the study is not only a great opportunity to address bacteria sources, but an opportunity to educate the next generation of students who will be the ones caring for our local beaches in the years to come.”