The People of ACWD

Each day, ACWD employees work to meet our mission of providing a reliable supply of high quality drinking water to our customers.

We are proud of the dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled professionals who are committed to our customers and the services we provide.

Here, we have the chance to introduce you to just a few!

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook @AlamedaCountyWD for immediate updates on when we post a new employee profile.

Elvia, Operations Office Assistant

She started at the District 32 years ago as a work experience student from Washington High School. Today, she is one of our most tenured and knowledgeable employees. Meet Elvia, Office Assistant in the Operations Department. 

Elvia Buffy

She grew up in Fremont, the same city where she works and lives today. Elvia says that because of this, I feel a strong connection to the community and ACWD customers. When working with customers she always strives to resolve customer issues, and make sure that they are confident in the water that ACWD delivers. 

Elvia takes a variety of calls in the Operation Department. Currently, customers inquire about main cleaning. Our annual Main Cleaning Program starts each January and people have questions about when their street is scheduled for cleaning, the water's safety, and how to handle discolored water. Elvia is happy to answer all their questions and concerns and assure them the water is safe.

Elvia is bilingual and often helps our Spanish speaking customers. She grew up speaking Spanish at home with her parents and five siblings and she understands the importance of receiving critical information from someone who explains it in a way, or language, that is familiar.

When Elvia is not working she enjoys spending time with her family. They enjoy wine tasting in Livermore and cheering on their favorite teams, the LA Galaxy and Golden State Warriors. 

"I feel a strong connection to the community and ACWD customers"

*As of 2/21

Carlos, Civil Engineer

He has an eye for creativity and a knack for design, meet Carlos, a Civil Engineer in our Project Engineering Division. His photographs are in many District outreach materials, including this issue’s cover photo! Carlos

At ACWD, Carlos helps to design improvements to our system and oversee their construction. Currently he is working on a renovation of a booster station to improve water pressure. It is an intricate task to fit a thousand components into a small concrete box while keeping it accessible for maintenance. 

After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake Carlos really began thinking his future career. He was seven at the time, and  memories of that event piqued his interest in structural engineering. 

Years later, as a Fremont resident during the 2015 drought, the District’s customer communications caught his attention. It was a chance to be part of something important, and in 2018 he joined the ACWD team.

In his spare time, Carlos enjoys visiting local parks with his son and showing him the wildlife – Carlos explains that nature is all around us, even in the middle of town. A fun fact, my wife and I were married at Quarry Lakes, and now I am part of the agency responsible for its water management -it is such a beautiful place. 

He also enjoys building and painting scale models and miniatures. 

"A fun fact, my wife and I were married at Quarry Lakes, and now I am part of the agency responsible for its water management -it is such a beautiful place!"

*As of 8/20

Patty, Customer Service Representative

She’s “kind of a big deal” here at ACWD. Customers come in to pay their bill just to see and talk to her; she’s a ray of sunshine and loves interacting with the public. Meet Patty, Customer Service extraordinaire. Patty Amber

In 2006 Patty was coaching a Fremontbaseball team and was approached by a parent who had seen an opening for aCustomer Service Rep at ACWD and they thought she would be perfect for the job.And 13 years later they were spot on.  Patty admits that she loves ACWD customers andnothing makes her  happier then to work on an issue with them and resolve ittogether. She says, it’s the best feeling to put a smile on a customer’s face!

During the COVID-19 pandemic Patty expressed how grateful she was to stillbe able to work and provide service to ACWD customers. Although she admits that it’s definitely notthe same; she really missed the face to face communication with everyone. Like she always says “I’m always working on my social skills!”

Outside of work you can find Patty at a bowlingalley near you! She bowls three times a week at Cloverleaf Bowl in Fremont and herdaughter bowls in tournaments all over Northern California. She loves spendingtime with her family and occasionally you might find her on a buffalo slotmachine!

"It’s the best feeling to put a smile on a customer’s face!"

*As of 5/20

Voltaire, Facility Maintenance Electrician

With 11 years under his belt here at ACWD, Voltaire is considered one of the best at what he does, a Facility Maintenance Electrician. He started in the Army Reserves where he was trained on electrical, refrigeration and equipment repair. After 6 years in the reserves Voltaire knew his passion was in the electrical field and wanted to pursue it.Voltaire, Electrician

Voltaire explains that as an Electrician you are constantly being challenged with different projects and problems and I really enjoy that part of the job. Here at ACWD, his workgroup consists of skilled individuals and that often collaborate on issues and come up with solutions together that are best for the District and Voltaire finds that to be very rewarding.

At ACWD, Electricians install and maintain electrical equipment, power generation and emergency backup system used in water production, treatment, distribution and office facilities. They also install and maintain communication systems throughout the District as well as video surveillance, access control, life and safety systems. They are constantly on the move!

Voltaire has worked on many projects, but the Capital Improvement Project where his group replaced all of the programmable logic controllers (PLCs) at our Water Treatment Plant #2 in Fremont is by far his favorite. PLCs and related software provide behind-the-scenes control of many of our water systems’ operations, you can think of them as the brains of our facilities. The electrical team had to identify thousands of wires and devices and then produce a drawing to use to build and install new panels. Once complete they had to test every valve and part to ensure it was functioning properly. The electrical team worked with a great team of ACWD engineers, instrument technicians and outside contractors to make this project a success.

When he’s not working, Voltaire enjoys spending time with his wife and three children. From going to sporting events to watching them perform, they are always on the go! In the future Voltaire hopes to travel more and spend more time doing photography.

"As an Electrician you are constantly being challenged with different projects and problems and I really enjoy that part of the job"

*As of 1/20

Selina, Human Resource Analyst

SelinaShe defines the term “service with a smile” and provides excellent internal and external customer service. Meet Selina, Human Resource Analyst who has been with the District for six years and is well-known for her upbeat attitude, outgoing personality and overall zest for life. From the moment an applicant clicks submit on their employment application, to greeting them at their interview, and finally onboarding them as a new employee, Selina has her hands in it all.

Early in her career, she was a receptionist for a school district and worked in the front lobby. Selina loved it! There was constant interaction with the public; she was always helping and guiding people and the Department Director took notice. He approached her one day and said you belong upstairs in HR. You are great with people and so outgoing, you would be a perfect fit. And the rest is history, Selina moved to the HR Department and he was right, it is exactly where she belongs. Selina admits I can’t imagine working in any other field because I love meeting new people and all the daily interactions, it motivates me.

It gives her job satisfaction knowing that she is a resource to internal and external customers, and they rely on her services. Selina starts the hiring process with managers who are looking for an exceptional new employee and tries to find them the best fit. She enjoys watching the process evolve and when it works out for both the candidate and the manager it makes it all worth it. Selina adds, during the hiring process, I see these candidates and I get to know them a bit. Sometimes they apply several times, so to see them get hired and succeed makes me so happy.

Selina has a special love for music, dancing and going to concerts. This past year, she make a pact with a friend to attend a different concert each month for a year. She recently saw Janet Jackson and Lionel Richie! Both were amazing shows! Selina’s grandbabies are also a big part of her life! She has three grandsons that she adores and loves going to the Oakland zoo and playing baseball with.

Some inside advice from Selina to future candidates is to get a good night’s sleep the night before, arrive early the day of your interview to mentally prepare and be sure to explain in detail why you are the right person for the job! 

"I can’t imagine working in any other field because I love meeting new people and all the daily interactions, it motivates me." 

*As of 10/19

Jose, Engineering Technician

jose Since grade school, Jose has envisioned a career working with and helping people in his community –a career offering a variety of work in varying environments – sometimes in an office and other times outside. So when the opportunity arose for Jose to join ACWD’s Engineering Division as an Engineering Technician, he knew it was the perfect fit! Fifteen years later, Jose is known at ACWD for his exceptional customer service and extensive on-the-job knowledge.

Jose works with customers who want to upgrade existing water service, or install new service to their homes or businesses. He review plans, ensures the installation location is correct, and provides customers with a construction cost estimate. He also works on larger-scale projects, like the new Warm Springs BART Station, Pacific Commons Shopping Center and his personal favorite - the Aqua Adventure Water Park in Fremont. 

Jose admits that working with the Tri-City residents is the best part of my job!  When reviewing plans with a customer, he sits down with them and treats them like family. He is always very honest and tries to provide the most cost effective options for their project. Jose gets it– home remodeling can be stressful, and the last thing he wants to do is add to the stress. His goal is to be informative so the customer can make knowledgeable decisions.  

Jose loves to travel, explore and visit new places with his wife and daughters. They love to be active; this fall they look forward to joining the East Bay Regional Parks “Trails Challenge” to check out all of the local trails in the area. It’s a great way to spend quality time and get outdoors!

"Working with the Tri-City residents is the best part of my job!"

*As of 05/2019

Mike, Auto Mechanic

You may not see him often, but you will see his work driving around daily. That is because Mike is one of two ACWD highly skilled auto mechanics. With more than 35 years of auto mechanic experience, Mike specializes as a heavy equipment diesel mechanic. Mike R

Mike has always enjoyed working on heavy equipment - tractors, trains, and off-road heavy equipment. Fixing things and problem solving is second nature. The work he does is behind the scenes, ensuring District vehicles are safe and equipment is reliable so field crews can do their jobs. In doing so, Mike earns their confidence, and that’s important to him.

Mike began his District career five years ago, and although he has extensive experience as a mechanic, the water industry was new to him. Now, he sees that even from the mechanic shop, the work he does plays a part in providing an essential service to the community of which he both works and lives in. Mike states that water is vital to life and knowing that his job helps to contribute to the service provided to the Tri-Cities is rewarding.

Mike enjoys travelling with his wife and two dogs, Roxy, and Gunnar. They are explorers and love the outdoors, spending time in their camper and riding their utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) - the Mohave Desert is one of their favorite places! Mike says that Roxy is fearless, and rides along on the UTV - she loves to bark at the wind.

Something most people may not know about Mike is that he cooks and gardens! Mike states that there is nothing like fresh vegetables grown in your backyard. For him, it’s corn, tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers. Fresh being the best! Mike adds his homegrown tomatoes to tacos, one of his favorite foods to make. When the weekends are spent at home, you can find him smoking ribs and tri-tip, relaxing in the yard, and enjoying the comfortable Bay Area weather.

A fun fact about Mike is that in May 2017, he received special recognition from the ACWD Board of Directors for a suggestion he made relating to the operations of the mechanic shop. It was a cost-saving measure and a benefit to the District. Go Mike!

"Water is vital to life and knowing that my job helps to contribute to the service provided to the Tri-Cities is rewarding." 

*As of 10/2018

Sharene, Senior Public Affairs SpecialistSharene Gonzales

As the Senior Public Affairs Specialist, Sharene helps to implement District communications and community engagement goals. She says she is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work on a variety of projects and collaborate with all departments throughout the District. Sharene takes pride in her work knowing that water is such an essential part of life and that she gets to share information about its importance. One of her most challenging, yet rewarding projects to date was to coordinate a volunteer effort to paint water conservation murals on District facilities along Alameda Creek. This project had detailed components and the timeline was very short, which is often the case in public affairs, but the outcome was great! ACWD staff and volunteers worked together and to this day, the murals remain an artistic way to remind us to all conserve water.

Sharene’s most rewarding aspect of her job is knowing that the work she does raises awareness about water, and with that, knowing that we can each have a positive impact on our environment. When she is talking with customers and children during events or tours, she gets to share in that "ah-ha" moment when folks learn the ripple effects of conservation, that some of their water comes from Alameda Creek watershed, or that ACWD operates a desalination facility in Newark. Recently, Sharene worked with over 200 First LEGO League Challenge participants, giving them tours of our treatment facility and discussing our treatment processes. She loves when she can be creative and take technical and complex topics like treatment and make it fun and relatable. When she sees the excitement in kids’ eyes and know she sparked interest in their young minds or piqued curiosity that may evoke change - that is the real reward.

In her free time, Sharene enjoys being active - hiking, practicing yoga, and taking spontaneous day trips. Sharene teaches Hot Pilates and enjoys leading her students through their wellness journey. And yet, she is also happy to relax at home, cook, and binge watch true-crime investigation shows. And what is her favorite fact about water you ask? That we drink the same water dinosaurs drink! The water cycle is an amazing thing and through its process allows water to recycle.

"When I see the excitement in kids’ eyes and know that I sparked interest in their young minds or piqued curiosity that may evoke change - that is the real reward."

*As of 08/2018

Ryan, Laboratory TechnicianRyan Woo

With a curious mind and an interest in chemistry, Ryan collects samples throughout the water distribution system to ensure it remains safe to drink. Ryan says that the beauty of his job is the variation of tasks - there is field work, desk work, and lab work so he gets to mix it up, which he says he likes. When Ryan is in the field, he and the other technicians visit 53 sample points weekly. They take small collections of finished water, water that has already been treated, so that it can be tested at our state-certified lab.

Ryan describes his co-workers as an extension of his family and he enjoys working with them all. Lab work requires teamwork and he is proud to be part of a great team - co-workers he considers to be friends. They each lend support to complete whatever the task is at hand, and everyone steps up to the plate regardless. Ryan says that enjoying the people you work with makes a huge difference and he says that the friendships he’s made over the last four years at ACWD are the most rewarding part of his job - that it makes it easy to come to work.

Due to his job, Ryan often talks with customers when he is near sampling stations. He loves that customers have questions and are truly interested in the work he does - such as, is the water safe to drink? How do you test the water? The list goes on. One day, he had a customer and his two young daughters approach him and the girls asked if he could show them "the magic trick that makes the water change color". What they wanted to see was how the water changes to pink during a chlorine test which indicates sufficient chlorine as been added to treat the water. Although Ryan knows the science behind the test, he says he did feel like a magician when the girls’ face lit up with excitement as the beaker shifted from clear to pink. He states that their reaction was the magic.

What does Ryan do outside of work? Well, Ryan feels life is best enjoyed through experiences and exploration. For him, that is travelling. He enjoys visiting new countries, experiencing the food, culture, people, and outdoor activities. His favorite vacation destination to date has been Thailand - he loved it. As a Bay Area native, Ryan likes to escape to warm climates that are best suited for the activities he enjoys most - hiking, snorkeling, and riding ATV’s. Ryan’s future plans include visiting Vietnam, Japan, and the Philippines. But, he says all of that in due time; he’s saving up - it’s all a balance.

When it comes to his curious side, Ryan says his super power of choice would be teleportation because he could get anywhere in 10 seconds. With that, it sounds like Ryan could start checking off his vacation destinations.

"Their reaction was the magic."

*As of 08/2018

David, Utility Worker III

If a customer calls our emergency hotline to report a leak, a water pressure issue, or other emergency, chances are David will be the first responder. With more than 20 years on the job, David, a Utility Worker III and Newark native is committed to providing excellent customer service with prompt assessments of emergencies and other customer needs. Whether it’s as simple as replacing a broken water meter lid, or asDavid K critical as a full-scale main rupture, David is prepared to control the incident through his years of experience and training received in the Incident Command System (ICS). His vital role as the first on scene incident commander, assure customers will get their water back in service in a timely manner.

On any given day, David may respond to as many as 20 calls. A customer’s water service may be interrupted, and quickly identifying the cause for water loss is important. Their response time is typically less than one hour, with more rapid response for critical safety and property damage emergencies. Quick action not only gets the customers back in service but reduces water waste that may be caused by leaks or a broken water line. Because safety is a priority, David’s role in contacting Underground Service Alert (USA) to identify other underground utilities is particularly important. "When making water main repairs, we want to ensure gas, electric, and sewer, communication lines, are properly marked to beginning repair work to ensure safety of those on scene."

 In working with potable water distribution lines, it’s critical to follow proper regulatory protocol. David possesses a State Water Resources Control Board Distribution II certification; this demonstrates his knowledge, skills, and ability to meet regulatory standards. He is also certified to operate a backhoe. In fact, David notes, "Through my 20 years’ experience, I have become very proficient."

 Having had a lengthy career with the District, David’s biggest professional accomplishment was back in 2006, ACWD had sent him and five others to provide mutual aid in recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina, "witnessing firsthand devastation and disaster was humbling and something I’ll never forget." They worked from sunrise to sunset for 12 straight days to help restore water service.

"We lost count of how many repairs were made, but knowing I was able to help during that crisis- that is my biggest professional accomplishment."

*As of 04/2017

Jason, Water Controller I

Jason Water Controller Meet Jason, he’s been with ACWD since July 6, 1998! During his time here, he’s had the opportunity to hold three different positions, which have given him the chance to learn, grow, and be promoted within the agency.

As a water controller, he is involved in a host of activities along Alameda Creek and our watershed. What Jason find most rewarding, but challenging, is predicting rainfall amounts and projected flow rates that help us make decisions on how to effectively capture as much water as is needed. In addition to these responsibilities, Jason may interact with 10-15 members of the public, with that, he keeps his customer service philosophy simple: "treat others as I like to be treated".

Because he interacts regularly with customers, it gives him an opportunity to explain ACWD’s operations to the public so you can understand how we optimize water flows, while meeting regulations.

One of his most interesting experiences on the job occurred along Alameda Creek, when he saw a bald eagle cruising above the creek bed near Niles. Having lived around Fremont for more than 35 years, Jason never expected to see a bald eagle. He states, "That was a great day at work"!

"Water is such an important resource and being able to be a part of providing it to our customers is an honor." 

*As of 04/2017

David, Customer Account Field Representative

 Sometimes while working with ACWD, we may have employees that don’t just have one duty; instead they may perform a multitude of tasks. These skills are highly valuable because it allows our staff to be extremely flexible and able to assist each other in different areas. With 15 years of service and countless hours walked to provide meter reading and customer service, we are pleased to introduce David, our Customer Account Field Representative.David Ashton

David wears several hats in his role, these include: meter reading, collections, turning service on and off, in-office customer service support, and he also serves on the Safety Committee. Before starting his career with ACWD, David worked in retail management and the technology industry. But when the tech industry took a turn, he decided with his background in customer service and interest in giving back to the community, that he truly wanted a career in public service.

What David finds most rewarding in helping customers is since he is in the field all day; he may be the only interaction our customers have with the District. He’s had several instances when reading a meter and customers come out to talk with him. David uses that opportunity to show them how to read their meter as well as check for leaks.

David states that there was one particularly challenging day where, "I was on a route and got caught in a rain and lightning storm and all I could think about was, ’I’m in a lightning storm walking around with a metal stick.’ The stick is a meter reading stick used to manipulate meter lids." He brings this story up to point out that people have the misconception that his job entails only walking to read meters. That said, he’s out in 100 degree temperatures or when it’s cold and rainy. Add to that, the hazards of dog bites, vehicle traffic, and the physical demands of walking 8 miles a day year after year- it’s a lot more than just walking. But David takes pride in what he does knowing our customers deserve the best possible service.

"Each duty has its benefits and challenges but I enjoy my work most when I’m able to help customers."

*As of 04/2017

Sylvia, Treatment Facility Operator

In our mission to provide clean, safe, and reliable drinking water at a reasonable Sylvia Roncoprice, we are pleased to introduce our employees who work to ensure this happens. Meet Sylvia, a treatment facility operator who uses her training, knowledge, and experience to safeguard your drinking water supply.  

Sylvia’s career in water operations began in 2005 while working for another municipality. She began learning about water main installations, and as her fascination grew, she wanted to grow with and contribute to an organization. Sylvia joined ACWD in 2008 and hasn’t looked back. Over the years, she has obtained, and currently possesses, three State of California certifications, including: American Water Works Association Water Quality Analyst Grade 2; Water Distribution Operator Grade 3; and a Water Treatment Operator Grade 3.

In order for Sylvia to prepare to operate a water treatment facility, certifications and ongoing training is key. Water treatment operators are responsible for public health and safety, and providing water that meets or exceeds state and federal regulations is a priority. She states, "It is equally important to have both a high level of skill and the knowledge necessary to take charge of operating a water treatment facility." They are trained to act quickly and to be responsive in the event of unplanned situations which are key in delivering an uninterrupted water supply.

As a treatment facility operator, Sylvia and the other operator’s decisions directly impact the quality and quantity of the drinking water delivered to our customers. Speaking of community, Sylvia notes, "ACWD demonstrates community involvement in many ways; one is by sponsoring an employee a year to participate in the Fremont Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Fremont Program." Sylvia happily represented ACWD in 2015 and says, "I gained personal and professional growth through my participation." Most recently, she participated in the Tri-City Health Center’s Superhero Run.

"I’m proud to be part of an organization that delivers such an important and necessary resource to the community."

*As of 04/2017

Monica, Customer Account Representative 

Monica Lopez

At ACWD, we work to provide excellent customer service and are here to answer questions you may have. Monica, a customer account representative, interfaces with hundreds of customers each week and is dedicated to delivering superior service when it matters most.

Although the tasks Monica completes each day are typical, no two days are the same. When working with customers, she is addressing a range of questions, inquiries, or concerns - this may be done in person, online, or over the phone. One customer may call to begin or cancel service while another may want to learn more about drought restrictions or conservation incentives and rebates. She always enjoys sharing conservation tips and informing customers about the resources available to help reduce water use or lower their bill. When Monica is not interfacing one-on-one with customers, she works to resolve billing issues, "I enjoy research and problem solving to provide a resolution."

Being in customer service requires vast knowledge of a variety of topics - billing and conservation to name a few. Monica came into this position with a Bachelor of Science degree and has over 25 years of experience working in the private and public sector. She has been with ACWD since 2009, during which time; her topics of interest have evolved. In order to be successful at her job, Monica keeps up to date with rates and billing information, customer consumption, conservation, and the District’s mandatory water use restrictions. Monica notes, "It’s important to stay abreast of these topics to best help our customers."

Since customer service professionals are in high demand, Monica chose ACWD when a family friend, who had retired from the District, told her about a job opportunity. Having spent the majority of her career working in customer service, she was, "excited to join an agency with a stellar reputation."

"I enjoy working with people on a one-on-one basis and find it rewarding to help customers."

*As of 04/2017

Ranga, Groundwater Resources Engineer

With nearly 40 percent of our water supply coming from local groundwater, the monitoring and protection of our underground reservoir is essential. Ranga, groundwater resources engineer, is part of a team that helps protect and manage this critically important local resource.

Ranga joined the District in 2003 because it allows him to make an effective contribution to groundwater protection at the local level. As a resident of Fremont, he uses his skills and advanced degree in civil and environmental engineering to do work that directly impact his community. His professional certifications include: registered professional engineer; water distribution and water treatment operator certifications. Because of his interest in technology, he’s also obtained a certificate in information systems from UC Berkeley.Ranga

Although Ranga wears multiple hats, his current concentration is overseeing 32 sites for soil and groundwater restoration - restoration from pollution from underground fuel tank sites and large manufacturing industries. A handful of these are land restoration projects, where former industrial sites that are vacant and are being developed. Overall, his role is divided into four primary functions: a regulator for groundwater; reclamation of the groundwater basin from historical saltwater intrusion; managing the groundwater replenishment assessment; and serving on the District’s Information Systems Technical Advisory Committee.

Each year, as he promotes Groundwater Awareness Week, Ranga has the opportunity to bring science into area high schools with a presentation that includes a hands-on groundwater model that demonstrates the effects of pollution. Outside of work, Ranga is an active scout parent who loves to spend time with his family exploring outdoors, "I enjoy traveling with my family, cooking, tinkering with gadgets, and learning new technology."

"I enjoy teaching as it allows me to engage and motivate young minds."

*As of 04/2017