Leaving Her Mark

Long-Time Water System Engineer Julie Spacht Reflects on 40 Years of Service

By Christina Holland

When Julie Spacht began her career with LADWP, she was the only female engineer in the Water System. Forty years later, more and more women are entering the workforce as engineers and the Department’s number of women engineers is now 230 strong. Early on, Julie made her mark and was soon tapped for recruiting duties. One of her more famous recruits is currently sitting at the helm of the Water System, Richard Harasick.

Before retiring in June 2019, Julie sat down with Intake to talk about an almost four-decade project (the Mulholland Pipeline Project), how the Water System has evolved, and how one assignment changed her view on the world.

Intake: We’d love to know about your background. Where did you go to school, what led you to LADWP and what was it like when you started?

I graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where the Department was recruiting engineers. In fact, LADWP did quite a bit of Midwest recruiting. So there’s a whole cohort of Midwesterners who came to the Department within a two-year period: Susan Rowghani (retired), Steve Ott (retired), Bill Glauz (retired), Heidi Hiraoka, Penny Falcon (retired), and Terri Koch (retired).

I vividly remember my first day. I was hired as an LADWP civil engineering assistant, which was much better than being a Caltrans junior engineer. The two people I remember most specifically were Tom Rulla (retired waterworks engineer) and Bob Giles (retired senior waterworks engineer). Tom showed me how to navigate the freeways and Bob genuinely made me feel welcome. So I thought: I made it through the first day, I guess I can come back tomorrow.

Julie Spacht was the only engineer in the Water System when she began her career in February 1980. Photo by Art Mochizuki

Intake: I’m sure you’ve come in contact with many utilities in your career, what makes LADWP unique?

There are a number of things. One of them is the great feat of having a gravity-fed water system. That’s quite unique in the Water System – bringing water from Mono County all the way to the Harbor by gravity alone. It is the ultimate, carbon-free, no energy generation required, water supply delivery system that in fact, generates power on the way to the city.

Another thing that makes us very unique is the conservation ethic, not just with saving water, but with saving money. I am amazed at how penny pinching the Water System is, in every respect – ensuring that we don’t spend more money than we have to. And I don’t know that our customers know or realize that. There are lots of things we can do from a business perspective, that would make it easier for individuals personally and the Water System as a whole, but we choose to keep conservation as the focus. Take for example, the concept of a volumetric rate, and our investment in conservation devices and rebates. It would be easy to take another path and collect the revenue – letting our customers use more and pay more for their water.

A Water System employee has so much to be proud of; we provide one of the most essential elements in life. I have to say that in day-to-day operations I always had an opportunity to at least be heard. Often enough, I had a say in what was happening, which makes a job with the Department very gratifying. It goes back to the civil service concept – value for what you are doing and value for what the city gets.

Spacht with her Water System gal pals, from left: Penny Falcon (retired), Evelyn Cortez-Davis, Heidi Hiraoka, and Susan Rowghani (retired). Photo by Art Mochizuki

Intake: Can you tell us about some of your first projects? What are some of your favorite and most challenging projects?

I was assigned the Mulholland Pipeline and environmental documentation for the Corbin Water Tank. The four million gallon Corbin Tank was completed in 1987, but the Mulholland Pipeline was just completed a couple of years ago. I know that very specifically, because I went out to the job site and watched the guys put in the last piece or so. To actually get the Mulholland Pipeline done took a while as Water System projects were periodically re-prioritized. The 1991 earthquake, the growing need for water quality improvements, conservation, and the need for replacing existing infrastructure are all continuing priorities.  Situated in the Santa Monica Mountains, along scenic and heavily trafficked Mulholland Drive, the pipeline is over two and half miles long miles long and will serve a critical function by moving water from east to west or west to east as needed during emergencies. That’s what I worked on first and it was finally completed in 2016.

Throughout my career, I had some opportunities to work on many great projects such as the Los Angeles Aqueduct Filtration Plant (LAAFP), which was the big project for a whole generation. The generation before me had the second barrel, (the second L.A. Aqueduct). And then we worked on the filtration plant. That was 33 years ago but I know it specifically because my eldest daughter who just got married, was born the week they commissioned the plant. It’s so interesting to note that prior to LAAFP, the water was chlorinated, period. And we also had a fallout plan that dictated how we would operate the Water System in the event of a nuclear disaster. Now, our reservoirs are covered and everything that we do with our water (treatments and safeguards) is so much more extensive. It was a completely different time back then.

I’ve also had the opportunity to work with the native tribes in the Owens Valley. It was different than engineering work, it was challenging, and it was rewarding in that it gave me a whole new way of looking at things. It’s the reason I didn’t retire in 2012. The tribal representatives that I worked with taught me so much and gave me a different way of looking at the world, at my own life, and how I fit in.

Intake: What advice did you get that you’d like to pass along to women entering the engineering field or starting their career at LADWP?

When I started, I was the only woman engineer in the Water System. And for the most part, I was just Julie – meaning I was treated individually and not as a woman engineer. Looking back, I appreciate the opportunity that let me do as I was able and to promote as quickly as anyone.

Something I would tell young women  is don’t take yourself so seriously, put your mind and effort towards what you want to accomplish and just do it. Being good at what you do at the Department will allow you to be quite successful. I also think it’s important to take an occasional but calculated risk. There is a distinction between risk and chance. Risk can be calculated and managed; chance is arbitrary. Take risks, not chances.

Expressing her fun side, Julie dressed up as “The Drop” for Halloween during one of the drought years. Photo by Carol Tucker

Intake: We see so many colorful retirement posters around JFB depicting a variety of interesting retirement plans. What will you miss most about the Department and how do you see life after LADWP?

The people, obviously. There are so many people who have given me opportunity, consideration and just listened somewhere along the way and all that adds up to the ability to be as successful as I’ve been. A while back I told Richard [Harasick] as long as I had interesting work and felt like I was making a contribution I didn’t see any reason for retiring. Now, with Susan [Rowghani] and Penny [Falcon] retired, it just wouldn’t be the same. So, after driving three hours a day for all these years, I think I’ve left at the right time.

Retirement will give me the chance to spend more time with the Court Appointed Special Advocate, (CASA) organization. We advocate for foster kids who go through a lot of change with different homes, schools, doctors, and social workers and we [CASA] are an important constant in their lives. I think back on all the opportunities that I’ve had and I just took it for granted that everyone had the same access. I’ve been very, very lucky throughout my career. With the foster youth, that is not the case. They do not have the connection and the support that you should have to be successful.




Water Workers Tap Into Skills and Talents

By Albert Rodriguez

The skills and talents of LADWP’s water distribution workers were on display February 27, 2020 during the 10th Annual Sylmar West Tap Off competition, where waterworks employees showcase their abilities in action-packed water utility-related events.

Workers from LADWP Water Distribution Division district yards and other local water utilities came to compete in technically difficult events known as Pipe Tap, Hydrant Hysteria, Hot Flare and Meter Madness. These events push competitors to the limit, testing their abilities, knowledge, endurance and teamwork.

“The Tap Off competition is a time-honored tradition for our crews,” said Robert Lopez, LADWP Water Utility Superintendent and newly appointed manager of the Sylmar West Training Facility. “We utilize modern pneumatic machines to tap into pipes in day-to-day operations, but the competition showcases the traditional, manual way of doing this. It’s important to maintain these skills in an event like this that builds moral and brings everyone together in a spirit of camaraderie.”

The main event, Pipe Tap, requires a three-person crew to manually drill a hole and install a valve into pressurized cement-lined, ductile iron pipe using a heavy, hand-cranked tapping machine. Copper service lines are then quickly attached and run to a service meter in a timed event. Their movements are frenetic and feverish, but carefully choreographed, and if you’re too close to the action you just might get a splash of water!

Though they struggled with a broken drill bit, the “L.A. Tappers” LADWP team from Western District, which included Jose Campos, Mark Winkler, Nick Castruita and coach Joe Castruita, placed a close second to the winning team “Surf City Tappers” from Huntington Beach Water.

Other noteworthy wins by LADWP crews included first place for the “Western Hydro Kings” from Western District (Cesar Barragan, Chris Torres and Ramsay Hernandez) in the Hydrant Hysteria event for the second year in a row, and two showings in the Hot Flare competition. Justice Baldwin of East Valley Water Distribution came in at number one for the second straight year, and Alan Verdi of Trunkline Construction took third place.

A total of five LADWP teams competed in this year’s Tap Off events representing the East Valley and Western Districts as well as Trunkline Construction. As Tap Off gets bigger every year and gains more notoriety, organizers hope more employees will get involved and attend this exciting event next year. Winners will go on the regional competition in Anaheim (date to be announced).

Western Tappers’ Alfredo Sandoval gives it all he has to hold the tap machine as Chris Torres furiously cranks down on the drill bit during LADWP’s 10th Annual Tap Off Competition. Photo by Art Mochizuki




A Sense of Hometown Pride in the Owens Valley

By Jessica Johnson

When you head north on Highway 395 towards Mammoth Lakes, you pass by the small towns of Lone Pine, Independence, Big Pine and the city of Bishop. Many travelers and visitors to the Eastern Sierra region often ask why they see so many LADWP vehicles, signs and facilities while traveling this route.

LADWP, on behalf of the City of Los Angeles, owns and maintains more than 314,000 acres of land in the Eastern Sierra in order to operate the Los Angeles Aqueduct System. Between the Water Operations Division and Power System Divisions, LADWP Northern District has more than 300 employees who work and live in Kern, Inyo and Mono Counties.

Working as biologists, maintenance and construction helpers, aqueduct and reservoir keepers, real estate officers and power plant operators, among many other positions, these employees are not only part of the Owens Valley community today, many also grew up here and attended local schools. In fact, there are over 100 employees who are alumni of Bishop Union High School, Big Pine, Owens Valley or Lone Pine High School. For many, working in the community they grew up and went to school in evokes a sense of hometown pride that makes working for LADWP in the Owens Valley unique.

Lori Gillem, a Watershed Resources Supervisor and LADWP employee of 17 years, did not plan to work for the Department when she left college, and did not have plans to return to the Valley. Towards the end of Lori’s undergraduate program, her father, who was an electrical distribution mechanic in the Owens Valley, encouraged her to start taking civil service exams.

“The Owens Valley is a unique and difficult location to move to. The rural life can be a hard adjustment for young adults and families; however, I do feel a sense of hometown pride. It is fun to give back by helping judge local science fairs and assisting advanced biology students with projects,” said Gillem. “It feels good to be able to be a part of the community as a resident and an LADWP employee.”

Small town living is not for everyone, but for LADWP’s Northern District employees, having an office in the Eastern Sierra is a perfect fit.




LADWP Makes Top 10 for Energy Efficiency Among U.S. Utilities

By Carol Tucker

Hard work by LADWP employees and significant budget investments in expanding energy efficiency programs paid off recently, as LADWP made the top 10 and tied for the biggest point gain among 52 large U.S. utilities surveyed in the 2020 Utility Energy Efficiency Scorecard.

During a recent Board of Water and Power Commissioners meeting, Martin L. Adams, General Manager and Chief Engineer, congratulated and recognized about 50 employees from Customer Service and Efficiency Solutions for their achievement in expanding and implementing LADWP’s energy efficiency customer-focused programs.

“This is a tremendous achievement for LADWP, and would not have been possible without consistent dedication from everyone working to help our customers be more energy efficient in their homes, businesses, and institutions,” Adams said.

LADWP increased energy savings 54 percent from 2015 to 2018 and investments in energy efficiency more than 50 percent during that timeframe, distinguishing itself as one of two “most improved” utilities by the 2020 Scorecard, along with Consumers Energy.

LADWP achieved over 1.5 percent megawatt-hour (MWh) savings as a percentage of total energy sales, and increased its investment from $78.6 million to $135.2 million in 2018, representing 3.2 percent of energy sales. LADWP also achieved the third highest energy savings per low-income customers.

Released February 20, 2020 by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the Scorecard ranking reflects LADWP’s increased investments in Energy Efficiency programs, as well as the expansion of our portfolio of program offerings and comprehensiveness. The Scorecard noted that LADWP had improved significantly in offering more programs using emerging technologies LADWP programs also have improved in targeting a more diverse range of customers and end uses.

Over the past few years, LADWP has significantly boosted its budget for energy efficiency as a key strategy to meet California’s greenhouse gas reduction legislation and the goals of the Mayor’s 2015, 2017 and 2019 Sustainable City pLAns. The 2019 pLAn, known as the Green New Deal, calls for achieving a 100 percent renewable energy supply by 2045.

The 2020 Utility Energy Efficiency Scorecard ranks utilities on 20 metrics based on their 2018 performance, policies, and programs, allocating 50 possible points.

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West Valley Water Team Praised for Customer Service Excellence

By Albert Rodriguez

Digging up a residential street to install water pipe is never an easy proposition for both our crews and the community. On top of the difficult excavation, trenching and pipe installation, crews have to contend with residents leaving and entering their homes or apartments at all hours of the day. For residents, it can be a major inconvenience, and for crews, it interrupts their work flow. Thankfully, our crews are aware of the need for great customer service and focusing on the values of positivity, cooperation and politeness in every interaction.

The West Valley District Main Line Replacement Crew, led by Water Utility Supervisor Pedro Tovar, was recently cited as an example of these values by a customer living near their job site at DeSoto Avenue and Gresham Street in Canoga Park. The crew has been installing earthquake resistant pipe along the residential part of the street. Every time a vehicle needs access, the crew has to stop work, get out of the trench, lift the backhoe and cover the trench with a steel plate so the vehicle can get across.

“I would like to extend my gratitude to the LADWP crew for their professionalism and great customer service during construction,” wrote local resident Angel Li Wang in an email. “I know it’s difficult, but the crew accommodated each and every resident and I have been impressed with the job that they are accomplishing. On behalf of myself and all the residents here on De Soto, we all appreciate what these fine gentleman are doing day in and day out.”

As LADWP continues a major effort to replace aging infrastructure all over the city, crews must necessarily impose on the daily lives of customers. But such inconvenience can be mitigated with prior planning, coordination, and lots of understanding between crews and residents.

“Our crews recognize that residents are our stakeholders, and at the same time, we’re responsible for whatever impression that customer walks away with,” said Tovar. “We stress the importance of working with residents, keeping our work areas clean and educating them about the project.”

The project is slated for completion in May of this year, but it already looks to be a success, thanks to the great work by this outstanding group of LADWP employees.




Retirements: February-March 2020

We extend sincere congratulations to all the employees who, after many years of dedicated service, are joining the ranks of LADWP retirees. For a complete archive  and the latest month of retirement listings, visit the Water and Power Employees Retirement Plan website.

As of February 2020

Abram, Paul D. Power Construction and Maintenance
Almanza, Robert Water Distribution
Alonzo , Rita T. Materials Management
Amaro, John M. Business Support Services
Anderson, Alma D. Financial Services
Barnes, Rodney C. Water Engineering
Bednarski, John V. Water Resources
Bergerson, Robert L. Metering Services
Bhuiyan, Mukhlesur Power Planning, Development and Engineering
Blue, Robert B. Power Supply Operations
Brown, Joan M. Financial Services
Brown, Russell L. Power Supply Operations
Castillo, David Water Operations
Clark, Cherlyn J. Integrated Technology Services
Dailor, Thomas A. Water Quality
Fadakar, Shahram Water  Distribution
Featherston, Michael E. Power Construction and Maintenance
Flores, Ramon F. Water Distribution
Garcia, Alberto Power Transmission and Distribution
Garcia, Joseph M. Power Transmission and Distribution
Gavile, Fernando P. Customer Service Division
Giese, Jodean M. Office of Sustainability
Herriott Jr, William K. Power Transmission and Distribution
Hoglin, Glen A. Power Supply Operations
Howard, Pamela D Communications and Public Affairs
Howe, Steven L. Water Operations
Huang, Jacob Power Construction and Maintenance
Hunt, Herlinda Y. Office of City Attorney
Johnson , Donnie L. Power Transmission and Distribution
Kitching, Edward J. Water Distribution
Lacount Sr, Frankie M. Water Distribution
Lim, Sutoyo Water Engineering
Lontok, Ignacio Z. Water Distribution
Mc Allister-Phillipus, Ada F. Water Quality
Mc Knight, Caroline A. Human Resources
Miller Jr, George Water Quality
Mitchell, Brian K. Water Distribution
Moe, Frederick L. Integrated Technology Services
Naglich, Frank C. Office of Safety
Neff, James W. Water Engineering
Nerio, John M. Water Distribution
Nguyen, Can T. Power Supply Operations
Onishi, Eugene M. Power Transmission and Distribution
Orozco, David F. Power Transmission and Distribution
Paialii, Goddard L. Integrated Technology Services
Pody, Teresa M. Stores
Preciado, Frank M. Water Distribution
Resong, Joseph J. Water Distribution
Rocca, Joseph A. Power Construction and Maintenance
Rodriguez, Guillermo. Power Transmission and Distribution
Rollins, Brian S. Power Supply Operations
Singson, Michael J. Customer Service Division
Suh, Seong O. Power Transmission and Distribution
Timmons, Guy M. Fleet Services
Tomoling , Teresa A. Customer Service Division
Torres, Humberto V. Power Supply Operations

As of March 2020

Arora, Ved B. Power Transmission and Distribution
Avila, Joseph S. General Manager’s Office
Baluyot, Dennis E. Integrated Technology Services
Beatty, Anna E. Water Distribution
Botnick, Michael S. Integrated Technology Services
Buchanan, Lawrence K. Power Transmission and Distribution
Carandang, Raul L. Fleet Services
Carlos, Marinela P. Integrated Technology Services
Casey,Thomas F. Power Planning, Development and Engineering
Clark, David E. Water Operations
Eder, Darrel M. Power Transmission and Distribution
Evans, Dorothy J. Customer Service Division
Evans, Percy Water Distribution
Farrell, Thomas M. Power Construction and Maintenance
Fisher, Gilbert Water Operations
Formanes, Ernesto 0. Integrated Technology Services
Frost, Steve D. Power Transmission and Distribution
Garcia, Marc D. Real Estate
Gonzalez, John A. Business Support Services
Graham, Lisa Y. Customer Service Division
Gutierrez, Camille Water Distribution
James, Brenda B. Customer Service Division
Jones, Timothy E. Water Operations
Keen, Donald A. Water Operations
Khemalaap, Suchitra Financial Services
Kitchens, Charles P. Fleet Services
Loy, Randall J. Power Transmission and Distribution
Luna, Frank A. Metering Services
Marlow, Charles R. Fleet Services
Myers, Randy D. Water Operations
Otero, Henry J. Water Distribution
Park, James K. Power Planning, Development and Engineering
Payne, Ralph J. Power Supply Operations
Pelayo, Roman Fleet Services
Poole, Larry D. Customer Service Division
Posten, George J. Fleet Services
Reinosa, Adan Financial Services
Sandoval,Carmelina Human Resources
Sheldon, Thomas W. Power New Business
Strub, Robert H. Water Operations
Terry, Mike E. Power Transmission and Distribution
Trumpler, David A. Power Construction and Maintenance

 




In Memoriam: December 2019 – January 2020

LADWP extends its condolences to the families and friends of current and former employees who have recently passed.  Visit the Water and Power Retired Employees’ Retirement Plan website to view and download monthly notices of retirees and active employees who have passed away.

As of December 2019

Arturo J. Aguilar, 94 Power Distribution and Construction
Duane L. Benson, 76 Supply Chain Services
John E. Blancett, 72 Corporate Services
Robert E. Brown, 80 Power Operation and Maintenance
Paul A. Bruns, 94 Water Engineering
James S. Burnh, 91 Power Distribution
Shirley A. Campbell, 69 Customer Service Division
Charles E. Carvin, 88 Aqueduct
David R. Childers, 77 Power  Distribution
George F. Cummings, 94 Power Operation and Maintenance
Gary M. Dobrenz, 73 Customer Service Division
Robert A. Emerson, 86 Power Distribution
David Esqueda, Sr., 86 Fleet Services
Renus Evans, 87 Facilities Management
Gary L. Hedges, 68 Fleet Services
Charles S. Hellman, 77 Bulk Power
Victor J. Hernandez, 89 Water Operating Division
Kenneth M. Houlette, 77 General Services Fleet
Edward E. Kato, 92 Power Distribution and Construction
Charlotte M. Katz, 94 Commercial Services
James E. Kennedy, 86 Power Distribution
Louis W. Kirkland, 72 Power Supply Operation
Rodney L. Madsen, 87 Water Operating
Jose A. Martinez, 94 Water Operating
Richard C. Nutting, 94 Power Operation and Maintenance
James E. Parker, 82 Power Distribution Division
Robert W. Pierce, 92 Power Operation and Maintenance
Marshall C. Rhynes, 83 Water Quality
Robert R. Riddle, 70 Substation Operations
Albert 0. Simon,78 Water Quality
Dorothy L. Stapp, 95 Aqueduct
Kevin D. Switzer, 56 Power Transmission and Distribution
L.G. Washington, 95 Water Operating
Robert L. Winkler, 83 General Services

As of January 2020

Robert T. Jones, 77 Supply Chain Services
Debra A. Mc Ghee, 61 Power Transmission and Distribution
Wanda J. Augustine, 71 Financial Services
Toney E. Bible, 69 Integrated Technology Services
Gary P. Brand, 70 Integrated Support Services
Cosme P. Carpio, 86 Power Distribution
Thomas E. Catero, 83 Power Operations and Maintenance
Walter W. Chun, 94 Power Design and Construction
Donna L. Elliott, 86 Customer Service Division
Harriet A. Ferree, 93 General Services
Ben E. Fong, 98 Integrated Technology Services
Carl R. Francen, 86 Power Design and Construction
Henry M. Gilbert, 85 General Services
Stewart L. Hunt, 88 Power Design and Construction
Kenneth D. Ivers, 83 Power Design and Construction
Dorothy R. Jensen, 88 Public Affairs
Charlotte Kemp, 89 Accounting
James M. Kirkland, 73 Integrated Support Services
Ana M. Madrigal, 89 City Attorney
Kenneth E. Melton, 86 Power Design and Construction
Melvin W. Minor, 65 Power Transmission and Distribution
Herbert L. Ott, 95 Power Operations and Maintenance
Richard A. Pederson, 91 Integrated Support Services
Richard D. Reynolds, 69 Water Quality
Robert N. Richardson, 79 Water Operating
Richard L. Wakeman, 87 Integrated Technology Services
Teruo Yamane, 88 Power Design and Construction
William E. Young, 83 Power Operations and Maintenance
Hong Y. Yu, 74 Retirement Office



Meet Luciana, Both of Them

Giant Tunnel Boring Machine, Named for Project Manager’s Daughter, Goes into Action to Construct Major Trunk Line for Reliability

By Michael Ventre

Luciana stands three-foot eight-inches tall and weighs 38 pounds. She has long brown hair, angelic grey eyes and is a little shy. She likes pancakes, coloring and “Frozen.” She is a native of Southern California.

The other Luciana stands 13 feet in diameter and weighs about 200 tons. She arrived from Germany in pieces, on 21 trucks. Boring is the word most often used to describe her, but in a good way.

If your task is to dig a tunnel of over two miles under the City of Burbank, you might be wise to enlist the latter, although given the lineage of the former, that Luciana might figure out a way to do it also.

Luciana is the four-year-old daughter of Johan Torroledo, a manager in the LADWP Project Management Office. Among other responsibilities, he oversees River Supply Conduit Upper Reach Unit 7 (RSC7), a major Water System infrastructure improvement project. The other Luciana is named after her, a giant Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM). According to a tradition in the mining industry that dates back to the 1500s, a TBM can’t begin work until it is officially named after a woman for good luck. The LADWP project team went with Luciana, because both are powerful and irresistible in their own way.

Through the RSC7 project, LADWP will install over 12,000 linear feet of 78-inch diameter welded steel trunk line pipe. The project began in December 2018 and is scheduled to be completed by April 2022. This particular tunneling phase is set to begin in Spring 2020 and is scheduled to finish in late 2021.

RSC7 team, from left: Alex Reyman, Construction Manager; Fidel Zabalza, Resident Engineer; Johan Torroledo; Luciana Torroledo; Stephanie Sweigart; Richard Harasick; Ali Sabouni, Construction Management & Support Contracts Manager. Photo by Art Mochizuki

Luciana the TBM is rarely seen by the public, but not because she’s bashful. It’s just her nature. After being lowered into a deep pit on the project site at Johnny Carson Park South – which is hidden by a large wooden fence – the TBM will disappear from view and will work in private, 63 feet below ground level, boring her way under the 134 Freeway and onward in a northwest direction to an end point at the intersection of Burbank and Biloxi. There it will join with RSC 5 & 6, which was completed in 2018. Eventually it will all connect with Headworks Reservoir.

This current project will replace the original River Supply Conduit, which was installed in the 1940s.

“LADWP has many projects underway to improve water system reliability and provide high quality drinking water to the 4 million residents of Los Angeles,” said Richard Harasick, LADWP’s Senior Assistant General Manager – Water System.

“Because of their size and scope, trunk line projects are among the more challenging in our efforts to upgrade infrastructure. This RSC7 project is a vitally important part of that overall effort. I would like to thank both our outstanding LADWP project team and the City of Burbank and its residents for teaming up to help us make this project a success.”

On February 8, 2020, a sunny Saturday morning, the general public was welcomed onto the project site to listen to Burbank Mayor Sharon Springer and Harasick speak, and then to be briefed on the work and the TBM by members of the project team. The lure of the event was evident, as approximately 60 to 75 visitors came by and had the mystery of “What’s behind the fence at Johnny Carson Park South?” solved.

“This was a great opportunity for us to explain RSC7 to the public,” Torroledo explained, “and I believe the people who attended were fully engaged and really came away with a much better understanding of the work we’re doing here. I want to thank the members of our project team who were here to answer questions and show visitors around.”

While the TBM is the main attraction at RSC7, a production of this magnitude doesn’t advance an inch without a great team. Overseeing the project is  Torroledo, who served as project manager before receiving a promotion just prior to the arrival of Luciana (the TBM, not the daughter). Torroledo has been at the Department for 16 years.

Project Manager Ruwanka Purasinghe with the giant tunnel boring machine. Photo by Chris Corsmeier

He handed off project management duties to Ruwanka Purasinghe, who has been with LADWP for over six years. Before joining the Project Management Office about a year and a half ago, Purasinghe served in the Geotechnical Engineering Group and brings a reservoir of tunneling experience to this massive undertaking.

“I am excited to take on this tunneling project as it will be a new perspective for me looking at things from the project management side,” Purasinghe said, “and hopefully being able to bring my previous experience into the decision-making and considerations made. I am also excited to be able to work with the stakeholders and communities on sharing information about this important LADWP project.”

Ali Sabouni serves as Construction Management and Support Contracts Manager. Also among the headliners is Alex Reyman, Construction Manager, who has an encyclopedic understanding of the project both on the macro and micro levels, and also has perfect eyesight when it comes to spotting potential safety violations. Fidel Zabalza is resident engineer. And there is also Julio Venegas, who is the design manager and performed all the high-tech slide-rule wizardry.

Then, of course, there is Luciana. “She is a marvel,” Torroledo said.

Clearly, he is very proud of Luciana. Both of them.