Cuyamaca College: Cuyamaca Takes the Lead in Water/Wastewater Technology

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In southern California, no resource is more precious than water. After years of drought and water sources from northern California drying up, saving every possible drop of water has become increasingly important.

Cuyamaca College's water/wastewater technology program is addressing this vital issue and providing job training for what is sure to be a growing field as more residents and businesses look for ways to save water while irrigating their landscaping.

The college, located in eastern San Diego County and serving about 9,000 students, has received a $535,000 grant from the state Community College Chancellor's Office to collaborate with six other colleges in expanding and strengthening training opportunities for the water and wastewater field.  The grant is matched by $1 million of in-kind services from the water industry and the partner colleges.

The partner institutions are College of the Redwoods (Eureka), Santa Rosa Junior College (Sonoma County), Gavilan College (Gilroy/Salinas), College of the Canyons (Santa Clarita/Valencia), Santiago Canyon College (Orange County), and Taft College (Kern County).

Cuyamaca College was a natural to lead the effort with its longstanding water/wastewater technology program, one of the largest in California. Fewer than 20 of California's community colleges currently offer degrees or certificates in water/wastewater technology.

Studies have shown that the median age of employees in the water industry is 50, and nearly 40 percent are expected to retire within the next five to seven years. As many as 18,000 workers will be needed in the water industry, with more than 4,500 new jobs expected to be filled in the next three years in southern California alone.

The projected shortage of workers and increased demands for water conservation were the basis for Cuyamaca applying for the California: WaterWorks grant.

A key component of the grant is to develop course curricula for a new major in water resources management at Cuyamaca College, the result of a unique collaboration between the college's renowned ornamental horticulture department, its water/wastewater technology program, and the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College. Students will learn about using drought-tolerant plants and irrigation methods that save water when creating landscaping plans for homes or businesses.

The grant will also aid in the recruitment and training of new instructors for water/wastewater programs at partner colleges, as well as mentoring other colleges in the establishment of internship programs within the water/wastewater field.

With the addition of the new water resources management major, Cuyamaca College has one of the most comprehensive offerings of water industry programs in California. The college already offers certificate/degree programs in water treatment, water distribution, wastewater treatment, wastewater collection, and cross-connection control. About 350 students take classes each semester in water/wastewater technology, with virtually all of the courses taught by experts working in the field.

"We are always looking for ways to tailor our programs to the demands of the workforce," said Bill Garrett, president of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District board. "This is just another example of the innovative ways that Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges are in the forefront for training the workforce of tomorrow."

Click here to find out more about the Cuyamaca College water resource management program.

Contact: Don Jones, Program Coordinator, 619.644.4792