By Education -April 13, 2021 (Inland Empire Community News)

Local water and wastewater agencies have come together to launch a new initiative that will address the need for well-qualified water and wastewater workers to fill current and future jobs. The San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District has joined the solution, formally signing a Charter to join the Inland Empire Water Wastewater Apprenticeship Pathways Collaborative – also known as IEWorks.

The purpose of IEWorks is to create a unified voice for Inland Empire water and wastewater agencies in their workforce development plans across San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. By working together, agencies throughout the region can develop and implement strategies that support the development of high-performance workers. This will be accomplished through apprenticeships, internships, pre-apprenticeships, and career awareness programs.

“In an effort to meet the critical Water Industry Job needs of our customers now and in the future, we must help create and support a career pathway or ‘pipeline’ of qualified, well-trained, and hard-working dedicated individuals,” commented Gil Botello, Valley District Board Member. “The crucial work performed by water and wastewater agency staff that often goes unnoticed is essential to ensuring good health and well-being of our communities. Being a Charter member of IEWorks is a good first step in the commitment to creating a Water Industry Jobs career pathway and ensuring we are prepared to meet the workforce needs of our retail water partners, growth and development needs and, by extension, the needs of our ratepayers.”

The work performed by employees in the water and wastewater industry is often complex, technical, and requires a set of skills that can be difficult to obtain. Through the IEWorks program, participants will be exposed to the work of these agencies and gain hands-on experience and knowledge of what it takes to succeed in the industry. The program is designed to enhance racial and gender equity and ensure equal opportunities in the workforce, and bring the benefits of employment in the water sector to all the communities served by those involved.

West Valley Water District (Rialto) spearheaded the effort which led to a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to launch this collaborative effort. IEWorks is a partnership with San Bernardino Valley College, and will involve other Inland Empire community colleges, designed to develop water industry partnerships that raise awareness of careers in the water and wastewater field. IEWorks is modeled after the successful BAYWORK program in the San Francisco Bay area, which has 40 Bay Area water and wastewater utilities working together to ensure they have the workforce they need in the future.  

“Securing funding for our region – for any program – is fantastic; securing funding to enhance water and wastewater education, and develop those entering the workforce is a great accomplishment,” added Dr. June Hayes, Vice President of the Valley District Board. “My congrats to West Valley on a job well done. We look forward to working on this program.”

For more information about the IEWorks or how to become involved, visit