Cuyamaca College is set to begin construction on a Center for Water Studies aimed at training the next generation of industry professionals to manage and operate California’s complex water and wastewater systems.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the first component of the project – the Field Operations Skills Yard – is scheduled Nov. 9.
When completed, the yard will include a fully operational, above-ground water distribution and an underground wastewater collection system that students will utilize for hands-on learning.
The yard is projected to be completed in time for spring semester classes.
“These fully operational water and wastewater systems will be used to replicate many of the entry-level tasks employees perform as they begin their careers in the water and wastewater industry,” said Don Jones, the National Science Foundation grant manager who has helped spearhead the creation of Center for Water Studies. “It’s the culmination of a many years long pipe dream.”
A California Community College Strong Workforce grant is providing $192,000 for the Field Operations Skills Yard, according to campus officials. Additional contributions for the above-ground network of pipes, pumps, valves, meters and other equipment is being provided by donations from the waterworks industry. A National Science Foundation grant is also contributing toward the effort, officials said.
The second component of the Center for Water Studies involves relocating Cuyamaca College’s existing Water & Wastewater Technology program to a renovated campus building that will house new classrooms, including a water quality analysis classroom and a shop area for backflow prevention and cross-connection control training.
Renovation is expected to cost approximately $1 million and will be funded through the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District’s Proposition V, which voters approved in 2012. Renovation is set to begin in the early spring, and facilities should be available next fall, officials said.
According to campus officials, water utilities are expected to lose up to half their workforce over the next decade as workers retire.
“Water and wastewater agencies currently employ up to 5,000 in San Diego County and provide more than 60,000 jobs statewide. Water and wastewater treatment and system operators earn, on average, an annual wage of more than $66,000 annually in San Diego County,” according to a campus statment.
“Cuyamaca College is a leader in workforce training for the water and wastewater industry, and the Center for Water Studies will further strengthen our status as a trailblazer in the profession,” said Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes.
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