IN THIS ISSUE
This Year’s VCPWA Communication Focus is “Lean Forward. Leading Excellence. VCPWA Leading the Way.”
For the past ten years, our journey through Lean Six Sigma has totaled almost $9 million in cost savings. As an agency, we have completed 211 Lean Six Sigma events and over 400 people trained in Lean Six Sigma programs. Using these processes, we constantly work to improve emergency response, enhance workplace safety and leverage technology, ultimately helping to raise the level of living for everyone in our community.
I consider our Agency one of Ventura County’s greatest assets and I am honored to work with each of you and appreciate the dedication, commitment and passion that this team brings every day to ensure our agency is Leading the Way.
Jeff Pratt, Public Works Agency Director
The VCPWA is dedicated to the continuous improvement of our processes, leading to better efficiency in each department and our agency. Recognizing that traditional approaches to management can hinder innovation and problem solving and create inconsistent results, we are working to improve our processes by utilizing three main approaches; Lean Six Sigma (LSS), Executive Planning Sessions (EPS) and newest addition – Planning, Evaluation, Analysis and Knowledge Management (PEAK).
Lean Six Sigma which was implemented in 2009, is the county’s integrated management approach, which applies scientific principles to eliminate defects, errors, and inconsistency, thereby reducing wasted efforts. Used within all 5 departments, this streamlined approach has allowed our staff to not only solve long-standing problems and accomplish the agency’s goals in a timely manner but has also saved almost $9 million utilizing these strategies.
Such effective, continuous improvement would be impossible without a regular Executive Planning Session (EPS). Through the EPS, we create our agency vision, mission, and objectives while tackling many essential areas, such as organizational assessments and management training.
In January 2019, a new division was created within the Central Services Department called the Strategic Management Division, along with a new program known as PEAK. This inspirational acronym stands for Planning, Evaluation, Analysis, and Knowledge Management. The purpose is to measure and document our goals and the progress of each department to drive us toward operational excellence. This approach is the ideal complement to the Lean Six Sigma philosophy.
Embracing and making full use of technological innovations is key to VCPWA’s commitment to excellence. Our team has identified several ways that new devices, apps, and connectivity can influence the agency’s efficiency and improve safety.
The VC Connect! app for smartphones provides an interactive experience for residents and business owners in the region. Users can report problems that need to be addressed, such as road maintenance, graffiti, illegal dumping, and more. Using the VC Connect! app and the Everbridge suite, we are able to communicate effectively with our residents, informing them of utility outages, road closures, and safety advisories.
The Tailgate Safety Form, which can be used on PCs, iPads and iPhones, allows quick reporting of dangerous conditions in the field. Supervisors are then able to react and monitor real time trends such as heat, rain, and increased traffic and alert other workers who may be in the area.
VC’s Flood Warning System includes sensors throughout the county that measure debris and rainfall every five minutes. When needed, alerts are sent out via Twitter, email, and the Everbridge suite, and are also posted on the VCPWA website.
Sedaru is asset and operational management software that allows us to track the county’s water system. It creates a detailed interactive map that gives staff access to critical data, including maintenance history, in a user-friendly application especially when working in the field. This tool allows us to track usage of materials and supplies and make real time decisions during emergencies.
Our County’s Automated Metering Infrastructure system (AMI) simplifies the process of reading water meters by communicating information electronically. Customers can also use it to monitor their own and receive alerts if usage is too high or if repairs may be needed.
Digital innovations allow us to lean forward and continuously improve our service to residents in many ways — keeping expenses low, identifying problem areas, and improving safety. As always, VCPWA is ready to meet whatever challenges the future will bring.
VCPWA’s thumbprint on the County not only touches on the internal ways in which we communicate with the community but within the infrastructures that we help to design, build and oversee.
The Central Services Department’s work on the annual Public Works week event has helped to extend our outreach to the local community and educate the public on the work we do. The partnership of multiple agencies including Consortium Media, the participation of GSA, Wildlife Conservation, and County Human Resources, in addition to many others, has helped to grow the event year to year.
The Engineering Services Department’s
collaboration with many County agencies has produced projects that helped to better our community. With the combined help of the Sheriff’s Department, CEO’s office, Building and Safety, CA Board of State & Community Corrections and the Office of the State Fire Marshal, ESD is managing the uniquely designed and equipped 65,000 foot expansion of the Ventura County Todd Road Jail Facility-Health and Programming Unit. The new wing will include additional living quarters, a medical clinic, 3 classrooms, and updates to technology.
The Transportation Department’s work on the Yerba Buena Project helped many County residents feel safe while traveling the roadway during large storm events. Working directly with multiple internal and external entities, the old culvert was replaced with an upgraded design and the roadway that was washed away during heavy rains was resurfaced.
The Water and Sanitation Department’s
continued work brings high quality water while keeping water rates low to Ventura County Water Works Districts (VCWWD). The VCWWD, District #19 Well 2 Iron and Manganese Filtration Plant is a project which received a $2.65M grant from the State Water Resources Control Board and will utilize sand filters to remove iron and manganese from the water supply.
The Watershed Protection District’s
Southwinds Multi-Benefit Flood Protection Project is being designed and engineered to provide adequate flood protection for hundreds of multi-family residences and commercial structures in South Oxnard. By preventing catastrophic water releases, this project will protect the health, safety, and welfare in the community.
Whether it’s working within our own agency or working with outside or other County agencies on projects, our thumbprint continues to stretch far and wide.
Ventura County Public Works Agency’s Stormwater Program Manager, Ewelina Mutkowska was invited by the federal government’s Stormwater Infrastructure Financing Task Force to be an expert consultant to the Environmental Financial Advisory Board (EFAB).
Joining a total of 20 selected task force members from around the United States, Mutkowska will prepare recommendations to the U.S. EPA’s response to the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, Section 4101. Their report, as approved by EFAB, is due to U.S. Congress in April 2020.
As a Stormwater Program Manager with VCPWA for 10 years, her career includes implementation of Municipal Stormwater Permit and Total Maximum Daily Loads, managing stormwater program budget and grant funded stormwater treatment projects. It’s no surprise that Ewelina’s hard work is being recognized and she will represent not only the agency but our county well in Washington.
“I have been with the county for a little under a year and am always shocked to find out all that PWA has to offer to the community. I’ve had the privilege to take part in events that I never knew existed, like Public Works Week and State of the Agency. It has been so exciting and such a privilege to work with such dedicated and inspiring individuals that have the same goal in mind. I cannot wait to see what other fun adventures lie ahead.”
“I have been with Public Works, as a water service worker, for eight years and have enjoyed every minute of it. It’s a very positive work environment filled with professionals who are always willing to help one another grow and succeed.”