IN THIS ISSUE
Embracing Change – A Better Way Every Day, The VCPWA Way. I can’t think of a more fitting communication focus to describe our amazing VCPWA team and the outstanding accomplishments we’ve achieved this year in support of our communities and the public. Our journey throughout this unprecedented year has seen many challenges, but also many opportunities to create collaborative, effective projects for the community.
We had our first virtual Public Works Day event, bringing more than 1,200 website views and providing fun, educational activities for students who were distance learning. We are now invoking on our very first virtual State of the Agency that seeks to continue its goal of bringing us together and learning about all the wonderful work the agency does for the County of Ventura.
As we continue to navigate around these new changes, I want to take the time to show my appreciation for our VCPWA staff. I am so proud of all the hard work, commitment and dedication each and every one of you brings to make our Agency all that it is and will continue to be.
Jeff Pratt, Public Works Agency Director
At VCPWA, we embrace change every day. There is no agency that works harder to improve our Normal Operations. Through our ground-up leadership that encourages and supports staff in their development, identifying and re-assessing our processes to improve better workflow, we devote continuous training and implementation of new procedures to increase efficiency and improve our day to day operations.
We consistently evaluate and reevaluate our processes, never settling for “because we always have done it that way”. Whether it’s working to find efficient solutions such as Central Services Information Technology staff finding a lower cost, yet more effective Verizon data plan, or reducing time and costs spent on projects like the monitoring of Matilija Dam and UAV flights for debris basin cleanouts by Engineering Services.
As regional leaders, we hold our projects to high standards and lead the way for others. For instance, Watershed Protection is the regional leader in all Ventura County watersheds on waterbody specific pollutant regulations, including managing Minute of Angles (MOAs), monitoring programs, required reporting and negotiating improved regulations.
Commitment to Excellence
Our commitment to excellence is an ongoing commitment to not only ourselves but our community. Water and Sanitation recently began to use “Shade Balls” which are high-density Polyethylene balls to help with evaporation and maintaining proper residual levels by blanketing the top of the contact basin as we work for additional wastewater reclamation. In addition, Roads and Transportation continuously performs traffic studies, provides Pavement Management services to other cities and makes roadway asset information and pavement plans available to the public via our interactive map.
There is no agency with a dedication to performance improvement quite like VCPWA. Our team works diligently to ensure we bring the best to the Ventura County population every day.
The VCPWA way is to be prepared for emergencies in advance, to respond quickly, safely and efficiently and to have protocols in place to assist in the recovery process. Natural and man-made disasters such as wildfires, earthquakes, flooding, mudslides, and the onset of the COVID- 19 pandemic has led to the need to be ready for change and prepared at a moment’s notice to assist as First Responders.
VCPWA’s Response to PSPS ALERTS (Public Safety Power Shut Off’s)
In California, strong winds and wildfires are something for which we must always be prepared. The VCPWA way utilizes many preventative measures
to reduce the impact of potential emergencies, including creating better responses to SoCal Edison’s Public Safety Power Shutdowns (PSPS).
For example, Water and Sanitation is in the process of programming their generators to interface with their Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition
(SCADA) network. What this means is that SCADA will control the generators at their various pump stations, so when a PSPS is initiated SCADA engages
the generators remotely instead of staff going out to each location to turn on generators by hand with the potential of pumps having down time and
reducing water reserves at critical use stages, such as fire events. This change will bring many benefits such as lower fuels costs, better utilization of staff,
decreased environmental impact, and reduced noise pollution for the surrounding communities.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been felt across the country, and our county is no different. In addition to staggered work schedules and social
distancing across all departments, Central Services and Engineering Services quickly switched gears for contactless protocols.
Central Services began processing Leave of Absences as well as Emergency Attestation forms for employees that would pay quarantined employees who had to be out of work due to the pandemic.
Engineering Services Land Development began requiring electronic submittals, which includes grading and floodplain permits, reviews and comments, and modifying the Accela processes for online payments of plan checks and permit issuance. Additionally, Survey now generally receives map submittals thru mail-in and mail-out connections rather than public counter/hand delivery, and Corner Records also began submitting first and second submittals electronically.
You may recall from the 2019 State of the Agency Presentation, a future system for employee and citizen direct communication was discussed and has now been implemented. From simple Agency Staff notifications to critical County-wide notifications, Everbridge is an emergency communications tool that allows for quick notifications relating to important incidents as they occur, which has now been fully activated.
Being ready for change means being ready for the future. Across all 5 departments, VCPWA is making important strides to implement innovative solutions that enhance safety, efficiency, and methodology for a better tomorrow.
Roads and Transportation is looking to address new traffic methods that will improve vehicle and pedestrian safety. This includes installing retroreflective flashing beacons (RRFB) as well as using cloud-based communication with traffic signals and other county owned assets that record data. With stay at home orders, team members will be able to access our signal systems network while working at home.
At VCPWA, we believe in the benefits of collaboration and working together. Future projects like the Matilija Dam Removal, Santa Ana Bridge Replacement, and more all involve communication across different departments, cities, and other agencies working toward a common goal of supporting the community and people of Ventura County.
Engineering Services is teaming up with local organizations and architects to build and develop new important projects for Ventura County. Future collaborative projects include working with the Health Care Foundation of Ventura County to build a Ronald McDonald Family Room at VCMC, the addition of a new conference room and computer lab for the Fillmore Library, as well as numerous construction projects to improve and upgrade local fire
stations and other vital community facilities.
The onset of COVID-19 required adapting to contactless operations which, many of our VCPWA departments were exploring to save money, time and waste.
Water and Sanitation for instance, has already implemented an online bill-pay portal and is researching options in utilizing Infinity Mobile, a mobile version of their billing system that would allow them to operate off a paperless platform.
In previous years, Central Services Human Resources would receive a request to recruit for a specific classification for a department, creating a backlog of
pending recruitments and prolonging the department vacancy. Recently, the process was made more effective by establishing generic recruitments that are more inclusive. This process can be used by multiple departments and has resulted in multiple successful recruitments for similar positions.
Leading the Way:
New monitoring wells are being installed to fill data gaps and improve the understanding of our groundwater resources. With this, Watershed Protection is exploring Advanced Metering Infrastructure, which would make VCPWA possibly the first agency to employ automated collection of well extractions.
At VCPWA, we strive to create a culture where improving our processes becomes routine. Thinking lean and embracing change is encouraged every day. Over the past year, our staff have improved our processes in our normal operations, in preparation for emergencies and planning future work.
Earlier this year, Water and Sanitation completed the implementation of the VCPWA Alert System. VCPWA-Alert is a notification system that utilizes a combination of database and GIS technologies to deliver internal and external messages. In the event of an incident, mass notifications are generated for
immediate or scheduled message delivery. The system can deliver safety messages to employees or externally to provide customers and residents with road closure alerts, water service shutdowns, boil water orders, sewage spills, etc.
Prior to implementation, communication with employees was insufficient with traditional email, phone calls or text messaging, which was especially noticeable during wildfires. Now, when critical notifications need to reach very specific individuals, VCPWA-Alert can quickly and efficiently provide
Looking toward the future, Roads and Transportation identified the need to develop a quick, thorough method for objectively allocating staff time to projects, as the prior process was detailed, time consuming, and non-standardized. The department improved future customer service by creating an
automated tool, which helps the department identify which job categories will be over-committed if specified projects are undertaken. It also enables better decision making about the types of additional resources needed, including whether there are opportunities for additional hiring in the form of permanent employees, consultants, extra help, or other alternatives. By making improvements to future planning processes, an estimated 20 annual hours will
be saved compared to prior manual efforts.
In addition to preparing for emergencies and planning for the future, VCPWA staff also looks to improve daily routine functions to maximize time and resources. The Real Estate section has a database tool that manages over $16 million worth of annual agency leases and rental income, both of which
require monthly review. During a review of the database system it was discovered that an excessive number of hours were spent manually running
reports and analyzing the data to ensure accuracy and accountability.
As a result, the system was improved by updating the database and providing concurrent access among multiple users. The result produced a cleaner, more efficient and authoritative data source, which drastically reduces manual processing and staff time, providing over $10,000 in soft savings.
VCPWA staff continuously look for ways to improve our processes, provide better customer service and to operate effectively and efficiently.
- Phil Garcia
- David Goldstein
- Joseph McCracken
- Robin Jester
- Pamela Cook
- Julia Dixon
- Paul Rivera
- Robin Grenville
- Wendell Ho
- Jeffrey Pratt
- Peter Sheydayi
- Ariel Braza
- Julie Stuart
- Kurt Thinnes
- Charles Alvarez
- Valeria Lopez
- Dave Jackson
- David Rowe
- Yesenia Silva
- April Hernandez
- Mario Vasquez
- Luis Gonzalez
- Scott Greer
- Matthew Litvinas
- Joseph DeChellis
- Chuck Alvarez
- Chris Hooke
- Gwen Derby
- Kathryn Pierce
- Gloria Banuelos
- Joseph Lampara
- David Hazen
- Sean Hanley
- Ed Garcia
- Sam Gonzalez
- Gary Nunez
- Tim Brown
- Richard Ortega
- Michael Flores
- Kyle Dryden
- Jose Elizarraras Ramirez
- Gloria Moss
- Joseph Lampara
- Kevin Hockstedler
- Francisco Ceja
- Gilbert Beltran
- Eric Keller
- Bob Hernandez
- William DuFrain
- Salvador Sandoval
- Christopher Smith
Employees of the Year
- Sean Hanley
- Tony Sheppard
- Kelly Hahs