IN THIS ISSUE
The Power of Public Works! This year’s slogan for National Public Works Week (NPWW) shows that many cities and municipalities across North America come together and 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.
In fact, when blended with our 2018 Ventura County Public Works theme – Prepare, Respond, Recover – the power of Public Works becomes clear. Each year, during APWA’s National Public Works Week, our staff invites the public, teachers and students of all ages to learn more and interact with Public Works. From providing clean water to disposing of solid waste, to roads and bridges and transportation planning, to emergency management strategies, drought-tolerant plants and more – this event shows you the true Power of Public Works!
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.
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.”
Congratulations to all of our VCPWA Employees of the Year and nominees!
Our department directors nominated team members for VCPWA’s 2018 Employees of the Year and they were recognized by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. Thank you for all you do!
The winners are:
- Raul Ruiz from Water and Sanitation, Operations & Maintenance
- Debra Cavaletto from Central Services Dept.
- Jim Van Voorhis from Engineering Services Dept.
Thank you for joining us for Public Works Day 2018! As part of National Public Works Week, the Ventura County Government Center’s Parking Lot G was filled with heavy-equipment demonstrations, interactive displays, and career and informational booths.
With over 30 interactive booths there was something for every age to enjoy and walk away with a deeper appreciation for what Public Works does for our community. From preschoolers playing with the popular mini remote control trucks to high schoolers admiring VCPWA’s Josh Gonzales working on the huge boom truck, students had fun interacting with the staff, equipment and technology.
Technology and S.T.E.M. educational elements are weaved throughout the exhibits, teaching kids the importance of recycling, maintaining our watersheds and public works infrastructures. One of the favorite interactive VCPWA booths was headed by Barbara Council, water resources specialist, who demonstrated augmented reality in a sand box topography setup. Students were also fascinated with the living worm compost boxes that showed how natural resources can be powerful in recycling food waste.
Older students had the opportunity to visit the career booth to learn more about all the various careers and specialties in the field of Public Works and speak with professionals in the industry to gain a better understanding of the educational requirements to obtain a career as an environmental engineer, hydrologist or other specialties.
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!