Woman in purple suit standing in front of wall with LADWP seal

Q & A with Reiko A. Kerr – LADWP’s First Woman to Lead Power System

Interview By Carol Tucker

Reiko Kerr became the first woman to lead LADWP’s Power System when she joined the Department in 2016. From Day 1, she took it as a personal responsibility to create mentoring opportunities to support emerging women engineers and new programs to promote and recruit women in LADWP’s workforce. In recognition of her commitment to advancing women in the electric power industry, Reiko recently received the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Spark Award, which honors individuals who have contributed to the advancement of women by mentoring those around them.

Reiko, who is Senior Assistant General Manager of Power System Engineering, Planning, and Technical Services, co-leads the Power System with Andrew C. Kendall, Senior Assistant General Manager of Power System Construction, Maintenance, and Operations. Reiko manages all aspects of the Power System’s critical engineering and planning functions including: generation, transmission, and distribution engineering; business development, renewable energy programs, Clean Grid LA, regulatory compliance, and contract administration. One of her biggest responsibilities is to lead the Power System’s transition to a clean energy future, including participation in the Energy Imbalance Market (EIM).

Intake had the opportunity to talk with Reiko recently about being a woman in a traditionally male profession, her vision for L.A.’s energy future, and other topics.


When you first came on board, there was a lot of discussion at the executive level and at the Board of Water and Power Commissioners regarding gender equity at LADWP. Have you seen much progress in this area?

Women make up approximately 35 percent of LADWP’s Power System. But if you remove women in clerical, customer services, and administrative positions, it is quite different. Clearly, these positions are critical to LADWP’s success, but women should also have access to the non-traditional roles that have historically been occupied predominately by men. In 2018, we promoted six women to management-level positions, which represented a 600 percent increase. In 2019, for first time, we now have female Electrical Services Managers assigned to the field.

This isn’t a situation unique to LADWP. The industry as a whole must do better. Mayor (Eric) Garcetti issued Executive Directive No. 11 regarding Gender Equity in City Operations to ensure the City’s governance is inclusionary and non-discriminatory for populations that have historically been underrepresented.

What is it like to be a woman in a non-traditional field?

I think it’s important to remember that we need our male supporters and mentors. It’s a very different message when I talk about the importance of gender diversity versus when Andy Kendall does it. Either way, it’s the right thing to do, but the message is different when it is supported by men. When I look at other successful women in the industry, without fail, each has been supported and mentored by male colleagues. As an organization, we must ensure that all employees, including women have equal opportunities in the workplace. It is also important that we confront our individual implicit biases. We all have them and it’s important to recognize them and work hard to overcome them.

When the faces of our employees match the communities we serve, we will know we have been successful. We have work to do so that we ensure our workforce reflects the communities we serve. Anything less is unacceptable.

There is a lot of institutional stereotyping that is changing over time, but it’s still not there. You see more diversity on the vendor side, but not so much in the institutional utilities. What’s nice to see is that in the industry, conferences are putting more of a focus on having diverse panels.

How do you navigate the challenge of being in charge of a largely male organization such as the LADWP Power System?

As the new member of the team, I build consensus as I build my team. I earn their respect. When I come into a workplace, I don’t make wholesale changes – I want to learn the lay of the land first. Here, I think I’ve done a good job of coming in and gaining the respect of my team, recognizing their strengths and weaknesses, and acknowledging contributions from our team members. That’s the key: it’s the team, it’s not me. I also recognize you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. So to be successful, surround yourself with successful, hard-working, technically capable people, and the sky’s the limit.

You are a role model for women here at LADWP as well as younger women who aspire to careers in STEM. What advice do you have for women either starting out in their careers or working to advance to higher levels in management at their organizations?

Be flexible. Don’t map out your career path. Be flexible in your career path and your career choices. If I had mapped out my path when I started, I’d be completely wrong. And I hear that from women all over. I am a finance person, I’m a CPA, and here I am in the Power System. Recognize that skill sets are transferable. So I say get your name out there, get your face out there. Raise your hand and volunteer. But then if you do, don’t let them down. Meet your commitments, go above and beyond.

Attitude. Is. Everything. Your attitude is contagious – good or bad. You set an example. Are you open to new ideas? Critical of new ideas? Supportive of your team members? Do you figure out a way to get to Yes? Do you support your colleagues? Do you celebrate other’s success (even if that person was your competition)? Are you angry? Are you critical?  Do you continually point out problems, or do you identify problems and offer up solutions? Are you grounded in other’s perception of you and does that align with your perception of yourself? Be aware of opportunities that exist. Continue to enhance your skill sets. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Know your value proposition. What value do you bring to the table?

What are the biggest challenges for LADWP’s Power System?

First – personnel. We need to ensure we have the right work force and skill set for our future utility business needs. As we move to adopting advance technology and smart grid, we need data scientists and statistical analysts to help make informed decisions. We need cyber security expertise and computer science engineers. We need people with the right core competencies and updated recruiting tools to give LADWP a competitive advantage.

There are also challenges created by the silver tsunami, with a high number of personnel retiring. Considering the time required to train new personnel, and the challenge of retaining them, this can create quite a knowledge gap. We need to be able to retain staff in critical classifications to ensure appropriate operations of our system.

Second—infrastructure. We are working to modernize our 100-year-old infrastructure to enable advanced technology and an electric system that will last for the next century while maintaining the same level of reliability.  The investments we make today need to meet our future customers’ needs.

What are you most excited about?

I’m very excited to see staff’s engagement regarding LA100 – the 100 Percent Renewable Study, launched in fall 2017, as well as the Clean Grid LA efforts. This has been a very robust process led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory with a diverse citizen-based Advisory Group representing multiple interests. We expect to see preliminary results by the end of 2019. Ultimately, the study will provide a roadmap for achieving 100 percent renewables or 100 percent carbon free supply. I think we’re on the right path.

In Memoriam: August 2019

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 August 2019

Warren H. Ash, 96 Power Design and Construction
Rudolph F. Barbosa, 87 Power Distribution
Norma J. Bates, 83 Power Distribution
Joseph G. Brooks Jr., 72 Power  Distribution
Francis D. Busser, 86 Accounting
Raymond Corley Jr., 83 Water Engineering
Laroy A. Dameron, 89 Water Operating Division
George G. Daniel, 95 General Services
Eleanor P. Dudley, 94 Management Information Services
Alexander Godfrey, 69 Customer Service Division
Jerry F. Harrington, 86 Power Distribution
William Y. Ishibashi, 84 Fleet Services
Sharon F. Janis, 75 Customer Service Division
Claude E. Jeffreys, 86 General Services
David L. Jensen, 74 Power Distribution Executive
Richard T. Kimura, 86 General Services
Shige Kishiyama, 92 General Services
Harold L. Lewis, 83 Power Transmission and Distribution
Gary D. Lyles, 77 Administrative
Manlio A. Manzano, 80 General Services
Leslie J. Mazug, 87 Power Operating and Maintenance
Cliff P. Meyer, 74 Water Quality and Distribution Pumping
Perry L. Morgan Jr., 95 Power Operating and Maintenance
Jane S. Nishimura, 99 Commercial Services
William Rodriguez, 88 Power Design and Construction
John F. Roser, 88 Water Operating
George R. Spencer, 78 Conservation and Planning
Edward Sturtevant, 87 General Services
Henry J. Valdez, 84 Asset Management
Clifford L. Williams, 78 Power  Distribution


*Late Notice

Retirements: October 2019

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.

October 2019

Alexander, David F. Information Technology Services
Bridges, Montgomery A. Water Distribution
Collado, Renate B. Power Planning, Development and Engineering
Congrove, Kathleen A. Water Quality
Cruz, Rolando Integrated Support Services
Davis, Damon C. Water Distribution
De Weese, Rex S. Integrated Support Services
Dominguez, Miguel Y. Power Transmission and Distribution
Gonzalez, Jaime H. Power Supply Operations
Hardy, Nancy A. Supply Chain Services
Haynes, Robin J. Customer Service Division
Hogan, Timothy M. Power Operating and Maintenance
Kung, Gregory K. Information Technology Services
Lim, George M. Water Engineering
Liu, Nelson Integrated Support Services
Lovato, Lawrence J. Integrated Support Services
Lukjaniec, Rhoda K. Supply Chain Services
Mitchell, Jeffrey C. Integrated Support Services
Munis, Michael E. Water Operations
Nesby, Brenda S. Accounting and Financial Reporting
Ramirez, Madeline R. Finance And Risk Control
Rangel, Raul Power Transmission and Distribution
Reyes, Yvonne M. Power Transmission and Distribution
Rios, Maria J. Business Support Services
Rugar, Paul J. Water Engineering
Sedwick-Griffin, Karen D. Water Distribution
Sherrill, Rebecca J. Power New Business
Silva, Enrique Customer Service Division
Smythe, Stephen M. Facilities Management / JFB
Sneed, Pamela D. Customer Service Division
Swinkles, Mark J. Water Distribution
Toledo, Henry E. Water Distribution
Wolf, Andrew W. Fleet Services
Wong, Raymond K. Retirement Plan Office
Yoshinaga, Bert M. Water Distribution

In Memoriam

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 July 2019

Richard E. Escamilla, 54 Power Construction and Maintenance
Yolanda Quezada, 71 Customer Service Division
Julius R. Rondez, 70 Information Technology Services
Luella Becken, 90 Water Operating Division
Diana M. Cates, 75 Customer Service Division
Herman A. Cuellar, 82 Power Design and Construction
Patrick J. Ennis, 83 Energy Distribution Supply
Ricardo Espinoza, 83 Stores
Charles Frazer, 84 Water Operating Division
Edith S. Furst, 90 Customer Service Division
Sheryl L. Gordon, 64 Engineering Services Division
James C. Greer, 86 Power Construction and Maintenance
Harry W. Helfrich, 85 Power Construction and Maintenance
Willie L. Jones, 72 Environmental Affairs
Cleophas McAlpin, 84 Power Design and Construction
Charles A. Palmersheim, 76 Energy Support Services
Pablo S. Poticar, 83 Power Construction and Maintenance
Michael G. Schindler, 93 General Services
Randall T. Swenson, 77 Water Resources – Aqueduct
Dolores M. Toscano, 74 Power Distribution
John K. Whitney, 74 Water Distribution
Lee R. Williams, 95 Water Operating Division

Retirements: July – September 2019

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.

July 2019

Adams, Samuel T. Power Transmission and Distribution
Armstrong , Douglas A. Power Transmission and Distribution
Behrens, John A. Integrated Support Services
Bragg, Charles M. Power New Business
Brown, Alexander L. Office of Sustainability
Cahill, Roy S. Aqueduct
Campbell, Eric C. Finance and Risk Control
Castruita, Jess M. Water Distribution
Chang, Kathy K. Supply Chain Services
Chavez, Arturo Metering Services and Field Operations
Cole, Roy L. Information Technology Services
Cordova-Todd, Teresa J. Customer Billing
Davis, Arfield E. Information Technology Services
Fernandez, Arleen V. Metering Services and Field Operations
Foster, Scott W. Integrated Support Services
Fox, Dennis W. Power Supply Operations
Gonzalez, Raul M. Labor Relations
Govea , Francisco V. Information Technology Services
Horvath, Carl M. Underground Street Utility Coordinator
Ives , Fred W. Fleet Services
Jackson, Rachelle Business Support Services
Jensen, Sherman E. Water Operations
Jones, Stanley D. JFB Facilities Management
Kehrmeyer, Steven R. Underground Street Utility Coordinator
Mackinnon, Paul R. Water Operations
Mills, David A. Metering Services and Field Operations
Mohammad, Svetlana A. Customer Service Division
Montano, Daniel Water Distribution
Moschos, Barbara E. Commission Office
Nguyen, Thuthuy C. Information Technology Services
Nixon, Lesleigh Power Supply Operations
Olvera, Alejandro Water Distribution
Powell, Pamela S. Metering Services and Field Operations
Raftevold, Daniel S. Water Operations
Reddix, Kimberly E. Customer Service Division
Roberts, Boyd H. Integrated Support Services
Rubio, David J. Power Transmission and Distribution
Rudder, Tim L. Water Operations
Sistoni, Frederick B. Business Support Services
Tapert, Kenneth W. Power Transmission and Distribution
Van Wagoner, William T. Water Engineering and Technical Services
Vargas, Larry A. Water Operations
Woo, lnju A. Customer Service Division

August 2019

Abenoja, Aristotle R. Metering Services and Field Operations
Adams, Kenneth G. Water Operations
Bondio, John V. Power Safety and Training
Boyd, Richard C. Power Safety and Training
Bruce, Robert F. Water Distribution
Cruz, Irma A. Marketing Director
D’Artois, Melanie C. Power Supply Operations
Detamore, Westley A. Metering Services and Field Operations
Dodgin, Sylvia Aqueduct
Dominguez, Deborah T. Power Transmission and Distribution
Garcia, Alma T. Public Benefits
Gornick, Lance H. Power Transmission and Distribution
Grosvenor, Steven H. Water Distribution
Hartman, Eric C. Underground Street Utility Coordinator
Isenhower, Michael A. Power New Business
Joaquin, Anneli M. Accounting and Finance
Navarrete,  Joe I Power Supply Operations
Rodriquez, Elizabeth Supply Chain Services
Rowbotham, John M. Power Transmission and Distribution
Sakuda-Campbell, Lynette L. Customer Billing
Sarkany, Lynn M. Bulk Power Business Unit
Scrivens, Glen R. JFB Facilities Management
Smith, Curtis W. Integrated Support Services
Stone, Aaron L. Power Transmission and Distribution
Strauch, John R. Integrated Support Services
Torres, Diane M. Supply Chain Services
Toy, Robert C. Information Technology Services

September 2019

Adams, John L Power Supply Operations
Ardalan, Sanjar Integrated Support Services
Bayer, Daniel E. Water Operations
Bromley, Randy S. Power Transmission & Distribution
Burnley, Melanie S. Fleet Services
Cabarrus, George M. Equal Employment Opportunity Services
Campbell, Marvin W. Power Supply Operations
Carrasco, Mary L Customer Service Division
Crook, Jon M Power Supply Operations
Cruz, Carlito L Fleet Services
Davidian-Garfy, Noric Underground Street Utility Coordinator
Dessert, David M. Power Supply Operations
Dimacale, Maria A. Water Distribution
Garcia, Aureliano M. Power Supply Operations
Gastelum, Aurora Customer Service Division
Gentallan, Rosario P. Integrated Support Services
Giles, Patricia Information Technology Services
Gonzalez, Richard R. Power Construction & Maintenance
Gordon, Darlene M. Supply Chain Services
Gutenberger, John D. Power New Business
Jackson, Margaret Customer Service Division
Joe, Henry H. Metering Services
Jones, Troy D. Business Support Services
Lim, Yin F. Underground Street Utility Coordinator
Miller, Virginius N. Water Operations
Morris, Robert D. Integrated Support Services
Parker, Dannie R. Fleet Services
Reynoso Jr, Jesus Business Support Services
Sanchez, Rolando P. Underground Street Utility Coordinator
Tabamo, Eleazar D. Finance And Risk Control
Tokashiki , Robert S. Water Operations
Toon, Gary S. Power Operations and Maintenance
Turner, Sherri R. Office of Sustainability
Wang, Rose M. Underground Street Utility Coordinator

LADWP Retiree Susana Reyes Joins Board of Water and Power Commissioners

Susana Reyes, former LADWP Director of Low-Income Customer Access, is the newest member of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners.  Confirmed by the Los Angeles City Council on June 5, 2019, she was appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti  to a four-year term through June 20, 2020, replacing outgoing Commissioner Aura Vasquez.

LADWP Commissioner Susana Reyes

The first Filipino-American to be appointed to the Board, Reyes is also the first LADWP retiree to hold a seat on the commission. She previously served as the director of LADWP’s Low-Income Customer Access, a position that helped ensure low-income ratepayers could access financial assistance, discounts and rebates offered by the utility.  A public servant for over 32 years, she is the founder and CEO of AgilEngines LLC, an advocacy and consulting firm focused on community outreach and civic engagement strategies.

“I’m very grateful to Mayor Garcetti for his trust and confidence in me to represent the ratepayers and help oversee LADWP as it continues to transform its water and energy future,” said Reyes. “I’m very humbled, honored and privileged to be here. I’m going to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”

Her experience also includes working on Mayor Garcetti’s Sustainability team as a Senior Sustainability Analyst, where she helped oversee the implementation of Los Angeles’ first Sustainable City pLAn and secured a $1.7 million grant for the City from the California Air and Resources Board to help launch BlueLA — an EV car sharing pilot program in low-income communities. She is also an active member of the Sierra Club, and was elected to the organization’s first-ever all-female Executive Committee in 2017.

“Susana has spent her life and career helping to build a more sustainable city that serves every Angeleno — no matter their zip code,” said Mayor Garcetti. “Her expertise in environmental policy, fiscal management, and community engagement will be an invaluable asset to our utility.”

Tapping Into Excellence

Water System Employees Take Part in Annual Competition

By Albert Rodriguez

It was non-stop action as the best-of-the-best in LADWP’s Water System showcased their skills and talents during the exciting 9th Annual Sylmar WEST Tap Off competition on February 20.  The annual competition brought in teams of water utility workers from LADWP’s Water Distribution Division district yards and other local water utilities to show off their skill in various water-related events.

Teams squared off in colorfully named, but technically difficult events, such as Pipe Tapping, Hydrant Hysteria, Hot Flare and Meter Madness. This year’s Tap-off event also featured a Safety Fair put on by Water Distribution Division Safety with vendors and water utility product exhibitions

The main Pipe Tappers competition entails a three-person crew drilling a hole and installing 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 all in about two minutes all while avoiding leaks as much as possible. The winning LADWP team this year was the “LA Tappers” of Trunk Line Construction  featuring Jose Campos, Sr. Water Utility Worker; Mark Winkler, Water Utility Worker; Nick Castruita, Water Utility Supervisor and Coach Joey A. Castruita Jr. Water Utility Supervisor.

“We normally would use modern pneumatic machines, but if those go down out in the field, it’s important to maintain these skills,” said Tommy Gibbs, Water Utility Supervisor, Central District. “The competition brings us together. It’s good training and great for moral.”

The Hydrant Hysteria competition entails assembling a fire hydrant that is broken down into separate components and re-assembled as quickly as possible. The winning team was “Western Hydro Kings” from Western District comprised of Luis E. Zamudio, Water Utility Worker – Christopher Torres, Maintenance Construction Helper and Coach Cesar Barragan, Sr. Water Utility Worker.

The Meter Madness competition featured water utility workers putting together a water service meter from a bucket of parts. Winner of this event was Angus L. Hall, Maintenance Construction Helper of Western District.

In the Hot Flare competition, participants must skillfully remove a water meter from a pressurized water service line, cut the pipe, hammer in a new valve, shut it off and then install a new water meter, all while icy-cold water is splashing around. Their movements must be efficient and precise in order to minimize water loss and install a properly functioning meter. The winner of Hot Flare this year was Alan S. Verdi Maintenance Construction Helper and Justice Baldwin Water Utility Worker of West Valley District.

Justice Baldwin flares copper as he strikes an opening into a copper pipe.

“It’s important that our crews stay at the top of their skill set with events like this, especially during leak season,” said Donald Williams, Western District Superintendent. “Colder weather and colder water coming into the distribution system along with older infrastructure can keep our crews really busy during this time of year.”

The LA Tappers went on take first place at the regional competition in Sacramento on March 27th vaulting them to the AWWA ACE19 national competition in Denver, CO June 10-12. LA Tappers were in the lead for most of qualifying rounds until being bumped out of finals in the last afternoon session by Birmingham, Alabama Water Works “Bama Boys” who went on to take 1st place. Undaunted, LA Tappers hope to return next year for what promises to be another tough, but exciting competition.

Birders Flock to 2019 Owens Lake Bird Festival

By Sylvia Beltran

Nearly 170 bird watchers and nature enthusiasts descended on the town of Lone Pine, California, April 26-28 to participate in the 5th Annual Owens Lake Bird Festival. The three-day event, sponsored by Friends of Inyo, LADWP and others, brought outdoor enthusiasts together for this popular event. Birders, as they fondly refer to themselves, participated in numerous outings onto Owens Lake and excursions to other areas around Lone Pine to view birds, wildflowers, geologic and historical features.

As the early morning sun rose over the Inyo Mountains to the east of Owens Lake, several groups of birders traveled onto the lake stopping to eagerly set up their spotting scopes to view birds from a distance. Birds could be found playfully scurrying on the shorelines, foraging for food or flying in for a restful stop as they migrated to their summer home. Mild temperatures in the mornings made bird watching more comfortable. As the weather warmed in the afternoon, it didn’t stop birders from heading back to the lake to try and spot other birds and maybe catch a peek of the cryptic Snowy Plover.

The Snowy Plover, which nests during this time of year on the playa of Owens Lake, is classified as a species of special concern, which limits the proximity of humans and equipment to their nests.  Other birds found on the lake during the festival included the Western and Least Sandpiper, American Avocet, Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard and other water birds.

Juanita Smith-Nokao was a first-time birder.  Born in Bishop, Calif., Juanita moved away for college and upon graduation, she moved to Japan to teach mathematics. She later moved to Monterey, Calif., where she continued teaching until her recent retirement. Once retired, Juanita moved to Lone Pine.  She was never a birder, but wanted to understand how others could be attracted to the activity. Her initial interest was sparked while teaching in Monterey where she observed that ravens were astute enough to learn the school bell schedule. They would swoop down onto the grounds where crumbs had fallen after snack and lunch period. Now that she lives in Lone Pine and the bird festival is in her back yard, she wanted to participate in the event. She made new friends – both human and winged – and stated she would attend next year’s festival.

Juanita Smith-Nokao using her binoculars to view the birds from a distance on Owens Lake.

Jay Carroll, a retired marine biologist from Morro Bay, Calif., finds birding appealing.  Jay described the appeal as a free peek into nature and how birds behave, an opportunity to study birds’ feather colors and markings while enjoying the outdoors and nature. At this year’s bird festival, Jay focused on the migrating birds like the Western Sandpiper, American Avocet, Northern Pintail and others.

The Owens Lake Bird Festival has grown in popularity and participation since it began in 2014. Participants come from various parts of California, including San Diego, Mammoth Lakes, the Bay Area and from Nevada. LADWP employees provide support for the annual event and lead groups onto Owens Lake for their bird watching enjoyment.

LADWP began the largest dust mitigation efforts in the United States at Owens Lake in 2000. Since the efforts began, the exposed lakebed has been transformed into a haven for migratory birds and other wildlife. The lakebed has a myriad of mitigation measures including shallow flooding, native vegetation, gravel and tillage to abate harmful dust from blowing off the dry lakebed.

Learn more about LADWP’s environmental work at Owens Lake. 

Evelyn Cortez-Davis: A Woman of Substance

By Albert Rodriguez

As a vital member of LADWP management, Evelyn Cortez-Davis, Assistant Director of the Water Operations Division, leads the team that safely treats, stores, and conveys water to the 4 million residents of Los Angeles. She has worked her way up through the ranks since joining the Department in 1992 as a civil engineer, taking on roles with ever increasing responsibility. One thing that has become clear about Evelyn: as she promotes, her desire to give back also increases. At any given time you will find Evelyn mentoring, speaking at career fairs, representing women in S.T.E.M. and encouraging today’s youth, especially girls to follow in her footsteps. In the following interview, Evelyn talks about what drives her success and her passion to give back.

Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to choose your career field. What interested you the most and why did you choose LADWP?

I chose to be a civil engineer because I want to change the world! I studied engineering at UCLA with a focus on water resources and environmental engineering. With this degree, I knew I could go anywhere in the world and be able to contribute to the safe delivery of clean water to people and to protect our environment. As a basic need, water unites all human beings on Earth and this was the best kind of motivation for me. I was ecstatic to come to LADWP to apply my learning right here, serving the city where most of my family lives.

What have been some of the major career highlights/projects for you while working at the Department?

Since joining LADWP in 1992, I have worked in pipeline design and construction, environmental compliance, water quality, recycled water, water rights, and groundwater cleanup. As Assistant Director of Water Operations, I lead a team that safely treats, stores, and conveys water to the 4 million residents of Los Angeles.

In previous roles, I had the opportunity to manage the Department’s $500-million remediation strategy to clean up the San Fernando Groundwater Basin and grant applications totaling over $250 million. I have been privileged to represent Los Angeles on the Colorado River Board of California and on the Board of Trustees for Water Reuse California. One of the roles I have enjoyed the most is as a member and alumnus of the LADWP Speakers Bureau which has given me a chance to interact with members of the community and learn first-hand about the impact of our work on families and businesses.

As a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) and a Board Certified Environmental Engineer (BCEE), what is your view of the role women play in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) fields?

The contributions and innovations of women in all fields of STEM are critically important. Just this year, we have seen history made with Dr. Karen Uhlenbeck winning the 2019 Abel, the “Nobel Prize” in Mathematics, and we will hopefully see NASA’s first planned all-female spacewalk soon.

Women’s voices in STEM are helping bring together diverse ideas to solve today’s complex problems. Right here in Los Angeles, women are leading as researchers, educators, engineers, scientists, technology innovators, and more. The key is to inspire girls to maintain their interest in STEM fields beginning at a young age, through middle school and on into high school, and their college years.

Groups like the Society of Women Engineers, National Girls Collaborative Project, TechnoloChicas, and Million Women Mentors are working to spark the interest and confidence of girls and women to pursue and succeed in STEM careers through mentoring.

What advice do you have for young girls or parents of young girls regarding STEM?

Keep your options open! Throughout elementary, middle, and high school, math was always my toughest subject. I had to put in 10 times the work to get the high grades in math that I was achieving in all my other classes. In fact, my favorite subject (by far) was English, particularly poetry and creative writing. Like many young students do, I mistakenly believed that math must be my best and favorite subject in order to become an engineer. I was wrong! Math is a skill and, like other skills, it can be improved with practice and dedication.

It took the encouragement of Mrs. Anna Cohen, my Chemistry/Biology teacher, to nudge me in the right direction. She saw my potential to excel in STEM and pushed me to participate in science field trips and ultimately to apply to UCLA and launch my career in engineering. I still very much enjoy writing so I have not had to give up that interest. My advice is to keep an open mind and give it your all. You will be thrilled to watch all the doors that will open as a result.

Where do you see the future of women at the Department?

The future is bright! We have an incredible opportunity to become ambassadors for gender equity. Our employees can more closely represent the communities that we serve in all classes and at all levels of our organization. With our Equity Metrics Initiative and the Mayor’s Gender Equity Initiative, LADWP has the chance to lead in this area. Just last year, I was honored to help launch of the Society of Women Engineers Professional Affiliate Group at LADWP to support our talented employees and influence the next generation of engineers and STEM professionals. There is much more to come!

Hydrographers Feel Sense of History

Season’s Snowpack Weighs In at Second Wettest in Five Years

By Jessica Johnson

Record rains across the state and plenty of snow in the mountains helped boost the Eastern Sierra snowpack to reach LADWP’s final measurement on April 1, 2019 to 171 percent – an astounding number when you consider at this same time last year, it was a registering 66 percent, and in 2017, 203 percent of normal.

Being the second wettest year in the last five years, LADWP water operations are better prepared to deal with the influx in water than in 2017, such as preparing the spreading grounds for snow melt as early as possible.

In order to obtain the snowpack amounts and level of preparation needed, LADWP hydrographers conduct snow surveys from January to April. Each spring the final snowpack and Mono Lake water elevations are measured and analyzed to help determine runoff and water supply projections for the LA Aqueduct System.

This past winter Intake joined one of the Rock Creek Basin snow surveys with LADWP hydrographers. LADWP has measured the same 12 courses located in four major watershed basins since the 1920s. The courses are located at varying elevations between 8,000 and 11,000 feet, and include the Cottonwood Lakes Basin, Big Pine Canyon, Rock Creek Canyon, and the Mammoth Lakes Basin. The sites were selected because they accurately represent overall snowpack and precipitation conditions at specific areas and elevations.

Starting just above Rock Creek Lake at the highest point of approximately 10,700 feet, we worked our way down the canyon, stopping at snow courses that were each around 1,000 feet long and included up to 10 measuring points.


Senior Hydrographer Bruce Peterson holds aluminum tube used for taking snow core samples.

As LADWP Senior Hydrographer Bruce Peterson recorded the weight of water content from one sample, he said, “this work is way different than other positions at the Department. There is a sense of history and tradition; we are still doing surveys using the same standardized methods, equipment, and at very similar locations as hydrographers 100 years ago did,” said Peterson, who has been working for the Department for 12 years.

Unlike years ago, hydrographers no longer need to rely on dog teams or pack mules to enter the back country of the Eastern Sierra. But they do utilize snow cats, snowmobiles, snowshoes, and even skis to traverse the remote areas where the snowpack surveys are conducted.

One of the most famous LADWP hydrographers was Dave McCoy, who founded and ran Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. A hydrographer in the 1940s and an avid skier, McCoy figured out that Mammoth Mountain received the most reliable amount of snowfall. In 1945, McCoy obtained the rights from the U.S. Forest Service to build a permanent rope tow on Mammoth Mountain. Armed with his knowledge of snowpack and snowfall patterns, McCoy developed the mountain as a major ski resort.

“As a kid growing up in the Eastern Sierra the hydrographer job is kind of a dream job. To actually have the job now is pretty cool,” reflected LADWP Hydrogapher Chad Galvin as he shook a snow core sample from the aluminum tube used to measure water content.

Many important decisions depend upon accurate water supply forecasting. Determining how much water to purchase to augment the Eastern Sierra supply as well as make decisions about customer needs, water supply irrigation, reservoir storage, environmental obligations, and hydroelectric generation in the Owens Valley all rely on the data from snowpack surveys.

Once back at the office, the hydrographers input data collected from each snow survey, combine it with rainfall and stream flow measurements into a computer model that helps forecast the next year’s water supply from Eastern Sierra snowmelt, explained Steve Rich, a senior hydrographer who has worked on close to 30 snow surveys for the Department.

Dave McCoy, founder of Mammoth Mountain, was one of LADWP’s most famous hydrographers.

Based on the 2019 final snowpack survey, approximately 114 billion gallons of water will be used in the Mono Basin and Inyo County to meet environmental commitments and operational needs. LADWP has taken active measures to prepare for the arrival of the anticipated high water runoff resulting from this year’s very wet winter, and the LA Aqueduct system will flow at or near full capacity.

This means in the following 12-month period, the LA Aqueduct is expected to provide approximately 119 billion gallons of water, that meet an estimated 70 percent of L.A.’s overall water demand supplying more than 1 million single family homes. To put things into perspective, in an average snowpack year, the LA Aqueduct provides about half of LA’s total water supply.

A recent announcement by Mayor Eric Garcetti that LA will recycle 100 percent of its wastewater by 2035 offers the potential for LADWP to reliably source up to 70 percent of its water sustainably and locally instead of depending significantly on imported water. Having a lucrative water year is a positive for LADWP’s ability to secure a sustainable water future for L.A.

As winter gives way to spring and summer, the melting snow supplies vital water flows that fill the many creeks and lakes in the area.

“With the above-normal precipitation after April 1st leading to a higher-than forecasted runoff, we will be very busy in northern district water operations charting and reporting water flows, measuring water levels at reservoirs, creeks, wells, checking weather patterns, and preparing the aqueduct system for the runoff,” said Rich.

Visit www.ladwp.com/aqueduct to learn more about LADWP’s water policies and projects in the Eastern Sierra.

Watch Snowpack Survey Video

Snow Pillow Data

Q & A with LADWP’s Chief Sustainability Officer

Nancy Sutley Discusses LADWP and L.A.’s Green New Deal

By Carol Tucker

In April 2019, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced L.A.’s Green New Deal, an update of the Sustainable City pLAn that sets aggressive new goals for the city’s sustainable future. The plan envisions a carbon neutral city by 2050 by zeroing out key sources of emissions—buildings, transportation, electricity and trash. It also calls for recycling 100% of the city’s wastewater and sourcing 70% of our water locally by 2035.

Many of the plan’s new goals and targets revolve around LADWP or rely on the Department for support.  As Chief Sustainability Officer, Nancy Sutley plays a central role in LADWP’s efforts to meet the Green New Deal targets. Nancy oversees regulatory compliance of greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency goals and programs, transportation electrification, building electrification and other sustainability initiatives. She also collaborates closely with water and power staff on sustainability goals related to renewable energy, water supply and water conservation.

In the following interview, Nancy offers her perspective on the Green New Deal, what it means for LADWP and the challenges that lie ahead.

Describe the Mayor’s vision as outlined in the Green New Deal – 2019 Sustainable City pLAn?

The Green New Deal builds upon the city’s first Sustainability pLAn from 2015. Like the first plan, it takes a broad view around sustainability. It isn’t just focused on environmental issues, but it’s also about the economy and about equity. It looks at how the city’s environmental policies affect people in Los Angeles beyond whether the air is cleaner and water safer, but really what does it mean for quality of life, jobs and how we interact with each other.

What aspects of the plan will affect LADWP’s planning and operations going forward?

Climate change is a big focus in the Green New Deal with the overarching goal for the city to become carbon neutral by 2050. The plan starts with that goal, talks about what that means and how we achieve that. That includes some big pieces, and many of them involve LADWP—how we produce energy, along with electrification of buildings and transportation. LADWP has a big role to play in all of those. These are areas LADWP has already been working on—renewable energy, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and helping to promote electric vehicles.

The plan also has a big focus on the water side—water conservation and the local water supply, such as recycled water and stormwater capture. Also what’s important for LADWP and city government is walking the talk. We have a big impact on how the rest of L.A. can demonstrate leadership, such as helping the Police Department with their electric vehicles and the Port with their clean air action plan.

Is this the first Sustainable City pLAn to set a citywide target for zero carbon?

It’s been discussed over the past two years that LA should be carbon neutral by 2050 but there were questions about what it means and how to achieve that. So this plan tries to layout all those pieces systematically. Instead of recounting what’s been done, this plan starts with the goal and looks at what we need to do to get there. It’s not necessarily new programs for LADWP, but it in many cases it means accelerating or expanding our targets.

What are some of the new targets that will affect LADWP?

Renewable energy is a good example. We have state mandated goals and legislation, SB 100, that calls for 100% clean energy by 2045 and 60% renewables by 2030. The Green New Deal accelerates some of the targets, such as 55% renewable energy by 2025 and 80% by 2036. (The most recent Power Strategic Long-Term Resource Plan target was 65% by 2036 and LADWP was looking to raise that to 70% by 2036).

Does the Green New Deal include new or accelerated targets for L.A.’s local water supply?

Compared to the 2015 pLAn, the Green New Deal has a bigger focus on local water by considering how climate change has impacted the water levels relative to the cycles of drought and wet, then drought and wet again. The Green New Deal is calling for 70% local water supply, capturing 150,000 acre feet/year of stormwater, and recycling 100% of wastewater by 2035.

With your science and water policy background, would you attribute those year-by-year hydrological fluctuations to climate change?

California does these periodic climate assessments, looking at global models and trying to scale them down for California. A lot of what we’ve seen in terms of climate variability is consistent with what the models say. For L.A., we store our water in the snowpack and all the climate change models say we’re going to have warmer, wetter winters. That’s a very different model than we’ve been used to. A lot of the current water policies reflect what LADWP has been doing for decades—viewing water conservation as a way of life, even when there isn’t a drought, as well as capturing rain when it does fall and then reusing what water we can reuse.

That relates back to the Mayor’s announcement in February—recycling 100% of all wastewater by 2035, with a focus on expanding the recycled wastewater capabilities at the Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plan. What are some of the big issues involved with that goal?

One issue is the public’s view of recycled wastewater has changed a lot in past 15 to 20 years but that’s still a work in progress, especially regarding groundwater recharge. (Groundwater recharge, also known as groundwater replenishment, is the process of injecting advanced treated wastewater into the groundwater basin.) Also we have a lot invested in existing infrastructure that was built for a different reality. So we have to think about what strategic investments will allow us to make this transition.

The Green New Deal sets aggressive goals for developing more stormwater projects. What are the challenges of expanding the capture and reuse of stormwater runoff?

Stormwater capture is a very important goal and strategy for improving our local water supply, but how you do you actually do that in a fully built-out city, and given that we have a whole flood control system designed to move stormwater as quickly as possible away from people? Now we’re saying wait – we need to slow down.

Cities that have done this successfully look at all scales. Historically, we tend to focus on doing big projects. Now we are looking at more regional projects such as the green streets, and even at individual homeowner level. Offering rebates for residents to use rain barrels, for example, is a start.

Also, when it comes to stormwater we have to consider the water quality piece. There isn’t a lot of water supply benefit to capturing stormwater in certain areas where we can’t use the groundwater basin. So the planning has to work these two elements together.

Are there any new focus areas for LADWP as a result of the Green New Deal?

The plan puts a lot of focus on building electrification, which is viewed as a high potential for carbon reduction. We have started to track progress in building electrification and understanding potential opportunities for new incentives. The challenge with decarbonizing buildings is how to deal with existing buildings.

There is also more emphasis on workforce development in this plan – training the next generation of workers for jobs in green industries.

I think the plan presents a lot of challenges for the Department, especially with many accelerated targets. But LADWP has always risen up to meet challenges. People in Los Angeles are counting on us to get it done.

Leading the Fight Against Climate Change

Creating a Clean Grid and an Independent Water Source for L.A.

By Carol Tucker

Demonstrating leadership in the fight against climate change, LADWP has accelerated its goals for reducing carbon from its power system and creating a more resilient and sustainable water supply that will be less susceptible to recurrent droughts.

During press conferences earlier this year, LADWP officials joined Mayor Eric Garcetti, members of the City Council, environmental leaders and community representatives, in announcing two game-changing initiatives that mark powerful steps forward to securing water independence and 100% clean energy for Los Angeles.

On February 12, 2019, LADWP announced it will not repower the existing ocean-cooled generating units at its three natural gas coastal power plants—Scattergood, Haynes and Harbor Generating Stations. Instead, LADWP will determine a viable path forward using clean energy alternatives, working through the 100% Renewable Energy Study (LA100) now underway. The goal is to achieve a carbon neutral power supply by 2050, while continuing to serve reliable power to our customers.

“L.A.’s local generation and transmission system was built in a different time and has served the city well. But now it’s time to re-imagine and reconfigure it. Our intention is to maintain reliability and affordability while we transition away from reliance on natural gas as quickly as possible,” said Mel Levine, president of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, during the press conference.

The new power initiative, Clean Grid L.A., will require a concerted team effort from staff across the Department to embark on a new path forward.  Over the next year, the Power System, Office of Sustainability and other divisions will work collaboratively with the Mayor and City Council offices, the 100% Renewable Energy Study (LA100) Advisory Committee, energy technology experts and other stakeholders to develop a detailed and comprehensive plan.

Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant

Recycling 100% of City Wastewater

To build a more resilient water supply in the face of climate change, Mayor Garcetti, Councilmember Mike Bonin, LADWP and the Department of Public Works – Bureau of Sanitation (BOS) announced a regional, multi-agency effort to recycle 100% of the city’s wastewater supply by 2035. The plan will help achieve local water supply goals, including reducing imported water by 50% by 2025 and sourcing 70% of the city’s water locally by 2035.

LADWP is working with the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD) and BOS to maximize the amount of recycled water produced at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant. The main components of the project include developing an advanced treatment facility and building the infrastructure to convey and replenish groundwater basins south of the Santa Monica Mountains with highly purified wastewater. Over time, the water will naturally purify as it percolates into the aquifer. From there, it would eventually be pumped out and treated to drinking water quality to augment the water supply.

“With the city committing to 100 percent recycled water at all four treatment facilities by 2035, LADWP will be able to source up to 70% of its water sustainably and locally.” said General Manager David H. Wright. “This announcement is a game changer when it comes to securing L.A.’s water future.”

The accelerated targets for a decarbonized grid and resilient local water supply are codified in L.A.’s Green New Deal – the 2019 Sustainable City pLAn announced by the Mayor in April.

LADWP teams from water and power with support for IT, Sustainability, Financial Services, and Communications, Media and Community Affairs are working closely with the Mayor’s office and City Councilmember offices to quickly convert the accelerated goals into concrete plans.

“Sometimes it takes a village. In this case, it will take everyone at LADWP working together to achieve new goals that will propel Los Angeles toward a more sustainable water supply and a clean energy future,” Wright said.