Salary for a Water Inspector in California – NBC Houston

The promise of job security and work-life balance attracted Fernando González to become a water operator. Now that he has worked as such for a few years, he sees his job as much more than fining people for using too much water.

On any given day, he patrols neighborhoods ranging from farmland to Malibu mansions, looking for evidence that residents are wasting water. She hands out notices of leaking sprinklers or when residents use the sprinklers right after a storm, sure, but the most rewarding part of her job is interacting with customers about how they can save water and why it’s so important.

“We’re more of a teaching tool than kind of an app,” Gonzalez, 43, told CNBC Make It. target, collect the money and run away.”

Boats, objects and pollution is what predominates on the shores of Lake Mead after the drought that plagues southern Nevada.

The stakes have never been higher as Southern California and the rest of the American Southwest continue their 20-plus years of megadrought. It is the driest period for the region in more than 1,200 yearsaccording to Nature Climate Change.

“Climate change has made a big difference in how our hydrological cycle is affected,” says González. “You see the lakes drying up. You see wildlife being affected. You can see that animals are coming down from the mountains to urban areas to eat because their food sources are being affected where they normally live.”

González sees the direct line between the work she does and affecting behavior change that can help conserve California’s precious water resources, even though talking to residents and news crews about climate change is far from the right thing to do. who signed up: “I never thought I would be using my voice as a tool,” he says. But this is the reality of what we have to do to conserve water.”

That’s how González makes $70,000 a year, or nearly $100,000 with overtime, as a water operator in Calabasas, California.

get the job

González was born and raised in California and helped run his father’s pool cleaning business until he was 25 years old. During that time, he learned a lot about the chemistry of water and loved working outdoors. When he was 20 years old, he changed careers to work as a plant manager in industrial sales and distribution, but realized that he didn’t like working at a desk and wanted something different.

When González noticed that her clients who worked for a water agency were always in a good mood, could spend a lot of time with their families, and even had energy for their hobbies, she wanted to get involved.

In 2017, González enrolled in a community college, took six courses, and got the certification from the California State Water Resources Control Board to work as a water operator.

The dramatic drought in 2021, almost as dry as 2002 and one of the driest years ever recorded in the region.

The biggest surprise during his studies was knowing the legal regulation of how water moves throughout the state of California through los angeles county. “It really brought to light the water scarcity here in Southern California,” he says. “I found out that the water comes from Northern California and we don’t actually store water here in the South. So that made the water conservation effort a reality.”

Learning about the chemistry of water treatment (how acid, chlorine, and different chemicals affect water) was challenging, but González liked it. “If you have a passion for something, you always find a way,” he says. “And I found that he had a passion for this, and it really hit me.”

Water operators must have a water distribution license or a treatment license. González currently has both. He was hired at the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, which serves about 75,000 residents in western Los Angeles County, in January 2020.

Residents in the Central Valley say that sometimes they do not have water since they depend on community wells.

one day at work

Gonzalez wakes up at 3 a.m., leaves home at 4 a.m., and arrives at work at 5 a.m. His shift doesn’t usually start until 7 a.m., so he puts in a few extra hours in the morning patrolling dry areas. and work with the Pure Water Project, an initiative to purify recycled water for continued use.

González enjoys the variety of her work. Depending on his assignments for the day, he might be doing meter readings, digging to install new pipes, or interacting with customers.

Your district is one of the largest users of water in the state of California. Last year, customers used an average of 205 gallons per person per day, according to a Los Angeles Times reportand about 70% of residential water use is for landscaping.

With the drop in the water level, human remains have begun to appear.

The typical neighborhoods in which he works can range from traditional single-family lots to horse farms, as well as celebrity mansions Owned by the likes of Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, Dwyane Wade and Kevin Hart, many of whom have received excessive water usage notices.

Fines range from $50 to $100, which is often “not enough to deter people who have the means and money to pay,” he says.

And violations can lead to uncomfortable conversations with homeowners who worry that if they don’t water their lawns, their plants will die and their property values ​​could fall.

They have been sent warnings because they have exceeded up to four times the amount of water they can use.

But González reminds them that if California’s drought worsens, water use could be restricted to human consumption only. The consequences could be much worse than boring lawns. “It’s unfortunate, but there’s going to be a victim of the drought, and we’d rather the grass be the victim than the people,” he says.

If a customer exceeds their water budget too many times, the district installs a flow restrictor: a washer with a 1/16-inch hole in the center that allows just under two gallons of water per minute to reach the home.

Flow restrictors cause customers to re-prioritize their water use: “You’ll have to start making decisions about what’s more important, watering your lawn or taking a shower, because you can’t do both at the same time with the restrictor in” says Gonzalez.

NASA revealed photos that highlight the dramatic situation of the drought in California.

González approaches her work with empathy: people are not wasting water to be malicious. Typically, customers just pay their water bill and don’t think twice. It’s not until someone like him visits his property, finds a leak, and works with them to fix it, that they realize they’re wasting water.

“It’s a victory for everyone,” says González. “In terms of conservation, less water is wasted and the customer wins because their water bill will be reduced.”

Overall, “one of the biggest rewards for me continues to be the customer service aspect of helping the community with what I do,” he says.

The future of water

González also works on the Pure Water Project, an initiative that uses emerging technologies to treat recycled water for irrigation. The ultimate goal is to bring treated water up to safe drinking standards one day.

In the mornings, González will work in a lab to monitor the facility’s three-step filtration process, make adjustments to the system and measure the impact of how pure the water comes out.

More than 33 percent of California is in exceptional drought, the most severe of the four categories of the weekly drought monitor.

The Agua Pura Project is a small-scale version of what the facility hopes to build in the next five to seven years on a larger scale.

Despite today’s dire circumstances, González says he is “very hopeful” about the future of water conservation efforts.

“The future is bright for those technologies,” he says. “I think with the combination of people who actually conserve water and use it more wisely…it will be more flexible not to use water than to waste it.”

This article It was originally published in English by Jennifer Liu y Tasia Jensen for our sister network For more from CNBC enter here.

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