Star Awards for 2018 Q4

Jake Wallin 

Jake showed exemplary leadership skills while acting as Supervisor trying to resolve the Marsh Creek Road leak. He made sure that a relief crew was called in to relieve the standby crew who had been working long hours and were tired and exhausted. While it is of utmost importance that our crews resolve leak issues, it is never to be done at the cost of their safety. Jake’s efforts ensured the safety of the standby crew, making sure that they did not continue on a job while exhausted and fatigued.

Thank you Jake for making safety a priority. Job well done!

Matt Fowler 

Matt fabricated and installed gates in the Los Medanos Waste Way. This area has been problematic for years due to transients living in the tunnel, illegal drug use, using the tunnel to travel through, etc. There have also been numerous fires started in the area. All of these things have caused frustration for both Contra Costa Water and homeowners residing in the area. The design and ingenuity of the gates have kept the transients away. The gates would prevent possible drowning or injury should Contra Costa Water District were to need to open the waste way and there were transients or citizens present. No Trespassing signs and Potential Flooding signs have been posted on the gates, warning the public of the potential danger. The gates operate mechanically and open with the flow of water. There is a pin driven into the ground that keeps the gates closed and is operated by a cable that you can operate by hand. If the cable is cut, you still cannot get into the gates due to a secondary fail safe device that Matt created. It is a lock that is in a steel box.

Since installation, one of the homeowners witnessed a transient jumping the fence. When they saw the new gates, they went the other way. The gates are clearly a deterrent. The homeowner also commented on how pleased they were at how fast Contra Costa Water District responded to their complaint.

Matt went above and beyond to not only design but to also fabricate and install a gate system that will keep the public safe but has also brought relief to homeowners in the area who have suffered throughout the years. His commitment to safety is a great example of what the District strives for. Thank you Matt for your design, hard work and dedication. Fantastic job!

Los Medanos Waste Way Gate

Security Gate

Star Awards for 2018 Q3

Brian Sweeney and Shane Tolosko 

Recently both Brian and Shane were providing bottled water to our customers at a job site. While there, Brian and Shane happened across a private contractor working on a 7 foot deep private water main nearby without shoring protection. Brian and Shane immediately notified the supervisor and the contractor that they were in a dangerous excavation and should have shoring installed before continuing the job.  

This is a great example of looking out for public safety. Both Brian and Shane addressed a potentially dangerous situation. Thank you for your commitment to safety. Great job!

Jill Suitos-Novak and Shane Pinto

The public recently alerted CCWD that there were three otters in the canal near the siphon structure that were trapped and possibly distressed. Jill and Shane responded and found a large group of the public gathered and concerned for the otters. After assessing the situation they implemented a safe and effective plan. They used climbing devices and rescue snares to coax the otters out of the canal. They were then snared and placed back in the canal so they could continue to swim upstream without any obstruction.

Jill and Shane took their time and acted safely and responsibly. They did an excellent job keeping themselves and the public safe while helping the trapped otters. A primary concern was public safety as there was fear that a member of the public may have tried the rescue attempt themselves.

Thank you Jill and Shane for keeping the public safe and one another! Great job!

Colton Rogers

Recently a report was received that a member of the public was possibly in trouble and in need of assistance at the Los Vaqueros watershed. Colton immediately notified the sheriff and in the meantime, went on his own to look for the person. It was unclear if the person in need had become injured on the trail, was lost, or if something else had happened but Colton was prepared to provide whatever assistance or aid was needed. Colton’s quick action resulted in the man being found quickly after the initial report.

His dedication to our customers and their safety was clearly demonstrated through Colton’s response to the initial report and coordination with the other responding agencies. Thank you for your assistance and for making a difference. This is a great show of safety, concern and dedication.

Congratulations Colton! Great job!

Carlos Butler, Shane Tolosko, Brian Brekelmans and Manuel Goodall

While installing a new fire service line in front of a senior apartment complex the crew helped several elderly citizens. A gentleman fell while walking and hit his head. Brian and Manuel helped to get him up and into a chair. Robert Wolverton walked around the complex looking for a family member. Upon speaking to the elderly gentleman they determined that his son was on his way. In the meantime the gentleman wanted to get up but Brian and Manuel kept him seated and calm as the gentleman was scared and confused. Additionally, a woman was trying to cross the street at the same time and both Shane and Carlos helped her to get where she needed to go. The entire crew took initiative to help those around them in need and also utilized their first aid training to keep a member of the public safe.

This is a great example of safety and concern by Carlos, Shane, Brian and Manuel. They were able to keep two seniors safe and also were able to use their training in first aid. Thank you gentlemen for setting such a great example of safety, concern and for making a difference for these two members of the public.

Congratulations! Great job!

John Jamison 

John witnessed a driver lose control of their vehicle. The driver hit a light pole, taking the pole down. He stopped to help and the driver fled the scene. John secured the area to ensure the public would not be exposed to the danger of the live electrical wires and called the police. He stayed at the site to keep it secure and safe until the police showed up. He gave the police his report of what he saw including a picture of the vehicle that hit the pole.

Contra Costa Water District also received a thank you from the City of Concord Public Works Department regarding this incident. Their note read “So I had a guy from CCWD call us that he witnessed an accident where a lady took out a light pole and there was live wires exposed and on the ground. He made us aware before out our PD did-so I am not sure who this gentleman is but I would like to thank him! With no time to spare I call my traffic signals tech and they were dispatched right away to the scene. I don’t know who John is but I hope you can tell him how thankful we are for his prompt response in letting us know about a very real hazard!”

John did an great job in securing the scene, keeping the public safe, informing both the City of Concord and Concord Police Department. His quick thinking, communication with the proper authorities and keeping the public safe by identifying the danger and securing the scene is an excellent example of safety and concern.

Great job John!

Greg Dixon

Greg was returning to the Concord Yard on Highway 242 when he witnessed a vehicle’s tire bouncing across the northbound lane into the lane he was traveling, striking the vehicle in front of him. The vehicle was severely damage and the driver was injured. Greg safely stopped behind the damaged vehicle allowing for both himself and other drivers to administer first aid for the injured driver and to call 911. Greg remained at the scene with the injured driver making sure she remained calm until paramedics arrived.

Greg’s safe and calm approach was key in helping the driver of the vehicle. Thank you Greg for your example of commitment to safety for our customer’s and citizens. This is a great Samaritan act.

Sean Hartman and Steve Winniford

Sean and Steve improved the safety shower and eyewash stations at the Bollman Water Treatment Plant, which has led to similar improvements being planned at the other plants. In addition to Steve originally identifying that the showers at the plant needed to be evaluated, Steve and Sean coordinated a third-party audit of the entire plant to ensure all deficiencies were identified. After receiving some trouble getting traction on the project, both employees continued to elevate the issue and develop solutions to ensure the problems were adequately address with sufficient budget and staff time.

New Eyewash Station at Bollman

Eyewash Station

For implementation of the repairs, Sean and Steve rebuilt and added new eye wash stations at Bollman, fabricating units that are far more effective than the units they replaced. In some cases, this involved an entire replumbing of the safety shower source piping, which was undersized in several locations. While function is more important than form in this case, it also doesn’t hurt that the new eyewash stations are so well designed they not only work well, but they also look first class, too.

Spot Awards for 2018 Q3

Jeff Tschudi

After hearing the Manager of Health and Safety mention recently that hard hat shells should be replaced every 5 years and inserts every year, Jeff took it upon himself to coordinate a hard hat audit for the Engineering department during their August staff meeting. Jeff requested everyone to bring their hard hat to the meeting, he gave inserts to everyone and brought pens to encourage his co workers to write the date on their hat. He assisted with assembling the new inserts into the shells. He personally picked up the supplies from Stores to have on hand for the audit and provided tips to help his peers keep track of the expiration date for their PPE.

His act showed great initiative in ensuring the safety of his departments and sets a great example of safety and concern. His proactive and direct efforts improved the head safety of his entire department.

Great job Jeff!

Randy Anduza

Randy was given a SPOT award for his thoroughness in helping make Kid’s Discovery Day at the District a true adventure for guests, as he fabricated a riser that fit inside the Bobcat bucket to ease the ingress and egress into the Bobcat cab for the future operators who came with their parents. Randy is a valued member of the Distribution Team and his continued contributions, attention to detail and hard work are greatly appreciated!

Peer Awards for 2018 Q3

Kevin Samuels

Kevin was nominated by Ken Swenson for a PEER award for the following action: When troubleshooting electrical equipment, electricians typically use a contact phase-detector to sense electrical current. This has some arc flash and shock risk since the detectors are connected to a live terminal. Kevin found a non-contact phase detector, ordered it, and shared it with his fellow electricians. This eliminates the arc flash and shock risk and improves safety for the entire group. Great work, Kevin!

Star Awards for 2018 Q2

Joe Coley

Joe was getting ready to do a fence repair in the Check 3 area of Pittsburg when he noticed a string draped over the top of the 121KV high voltage lines. Joe and the rest of the crew stayed away from the line and Joe immediately contacted his Supervisor. The danger felt was that the unidentified string had the potential to be a conductive material that could produce a shock. PG&E was notified and responded immediately. Upon arrival PG&E reported that it was a kite string and not conductive material and removed it. Joe did a great job in identifying a potential danger. Without knowing the exact material of the string it presented a danger to Joe and the crew. Joe put the safety of the crew and himself first.  This is the type of action that should be acknowledged and rewarded. Thank you Joe for your willingness to put safety above all else. A great example of what the District strives for to ensure the safety of its crews and staff. Way to go Joe!

Ken Swenson and Joe Wright

Ken Swenson and Joe Wright have been at the forefront of helping the District improve its Arc Flash safety, as well as meeting the associated regulations. Ken and Joe have taken on a lot of work with the project and in doing so have greatly improved workplace safety for all employees. Their attention to detail, patience with getting the rest of us up to speed, and commitment to the project are all commendable. This effort has far reaching effects and the way the two have conducted themselves is an example for all to strive towards.

Arc Flash is a short circuit in high voltage/current industrial equipment. The wires and equipment can vaporize, meaning they go from solid to vapor, expanding to 67,000 times their original size. This can cause shock waves that have a tremendous force; they can literally blow an employee off their feet, causing concussion, internal injuries, hearing loss, and injury from flying parts. It can cause shocks and electrocution. Arc Flash creates a large amount of heat that can cause burns, as well as a high intensity flash than cause severe damage to the eyes.

Regulations require that electrical equipment be labeled with PPE requirements and other conditions that need to be meet prior to performing work. Arc Flash involves an Electrical Engineering study, that looks at the time it takes for protection devices to activate, like breaker set points and fuse ratings. Arc Flash protection at the District has been a large undertaking. It has taken a significant amount of time and effort to remedy. Previously installed equipment was not designed with these hazards in mind or regulations in place. All sites with electrical equipment need to be evaluated, this included evaluating over 40 sites throughout the District. These safety efforts have been ongoing since 2013. This work involved initial training on the hazards and the newly enacted regulations, the initial RFP development, evaluating RFP’s, once the contract was awarded, then site visits to capture information, research to obtain missing or needed information, draft report reviews, labeling of equipment and now looking at mitigation issues. All this work has taken a significant amount of time and effort. Since project inception, Ken and Joe have been the Districts technical advisors, and go-to people whenever something was needed. The District would not have made the progress it has, without their ongoing efforts, continued dedication, and commitment to employee safety. There is still more work to be done, and it will be accomplished with the help of Ken and Joe at the forefront of Arc Flash safety compliance.

Fantastic work, Ken and Joe!

Spot Awards for 2018 Q2

Rick Fisher

Rick was called by Control for a possible leak on Landana Drive in Concord. Upon arrival, Rick noticed that the leak was coming from the meter box on the residence side of the system. After opening the box, Rick located the leak and attempted to make contact with the homeowner, who was unable to speak any English. Rick contacted the On-Call Supervisor to explain that the family would be without water if the issue wasn’t immediately addressed, so the leak was fixed with a clamp and the service was restored. Rick took it upon himself to contact the On-Call Supervisor to explain what would have happened if the water was left off overnight and then he went above and beyond, keeping customer service at the forefront. Great work, Rick!

Linda Ljuba

Linda walking along Bisso Lane and noticed two limbs had broken off from the trees along the District's property. She immediately notified a supervisor to see what could be done to remove the limbs or block the sidewalk to prevent anyone from walking underneath the limbs. Thank you for recognizing this potential hazard to pedestrian safety, Linda!

Star Awards for 2018 Q1

Daniel Sinosky and Manuel Goodall

Daniel and Manuel designed and built a tool to open the blow-off in a permit confined space so that they would not have to enter the space. By using this tool, a valve key extension, they were able to safely operate the valve and fully open and close the valve without having to enter the vault. Creating this tool has eliminated the need to expose employees to a confined space during this task.

Both Daniel and Manuel identified a safety problem that had been in existence for years and made the effort to implement a solution. The tool will benefit future crew members, providing a long term positive effect to the safety program.

Great job, Daniel and Manuel!


Dustin Hinks

A contractor was working at a District excavation site to install rebar and pour a large concrete restrain block around a newly installed valve. The contractor was under the assumption that they could enter a partially shored excavation to form the rebar. The excavation was ten-feet deep. Dustin stopped the contractor and contacted his supervisor, Matt Underwood who then contacted engineering for clearance on a different approach to building and installing the rebar cage.

Dustin ensured that not only were our employees working under safe conditions, but the contractors were as well. This was a large project so it is commendable that Dustin made this effort. Our crews are under tremendous pressure to insure service is returned as soon as possible. The fact that Dustin kept safety as his top priority exemplifies the attitude and attentiveness we hope our employees exhibit. Sometimes doing the right thing is not an easy thing to do but Dustin bringing this to his supervisor’s attention kept all those involved safe. Recognizing efforts like this will hopefully make it easier for other employees to do in future similar situations.

Great job, Dustin!


Deion Gonsalves

The District has a natural gas fueled truck. Recently the District received a letter from PG&E regarding a fuel tank inspection for the vehicle. The vehicle was subsequently red-tagged until resolution was made on the inspection. The area supervisor contacted a vendor and set up to have the tank inspected. The need for inspection was discussed in passing between the Maintenance Manager and Deion. Deion, being familiar with these types of vehicles form his prior employer, took it upon himself to proactively go out and look at the vehicle. He noted that the tank life had expired. Deion then researched the issue, contacting people he knew that worked on these types of vehicles, and researched it through the internet to verify that indeed the tank was at the end of its life and the only option was replacement.

Deion was proactive in going outside of his area to look at a potential issue, getting involved and investigating something that could have been an issue. His leadership skills and initiative demonstrates excellent safety management. His continued efforts to go out of his way to ensure the safety of employees is applauded and recognized. Thank you, Deion, for your continued efforts and example of what the District strives for when it comes to safety.

Ryan Lindsey

In the course of exposing a water main leak, an excavation had reached more than 14 feet deep. Shoring had been installed in the excavation but became unsafe after leaking water undermined the stability of the shoring. Ryan stopped the job, ensured no employee entered the excavation, and notified his supervisor of the safety issue. Ryan’s critical evaluation of the excavation and willingness to speak up to stop the job kept employees safe and helped to communicate the crew’s safety concerns to supervisors and managers.

Using your stop work authority is not always an easy thing to do, and recognizing Ryan for using his authority sends a clear message to other employees that they will be supported. Shutting down a job is not an easy thing to do but Ryan recognized that the situation was unsafe. He made safety a priority for his crew.

Ryan’s actions are a clear example of what the District strives for to ensure the safety of its employees. Great job, Ryan!