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Jun 14

Build your Career at the Capital Improvement Program

Posted on June 14, 2019 at 12:58 PM by Vitaly Litvinenko

The Capital Improvement Program to upgrade the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility presents a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity for engineers.

The 10-year, $1.4 billion CIP is the largest public works program in the South Bay and vital to the economic success of Silicon Valley. The RWF serves more than 1.4 million residents and 17,000 businesses in a 300-square-mile region that includes San José, Santa Clara, Milpitas, Cupertino and Los Gatos, among other areas. The RWF uses advanced tertiary treatment to discharge clean water into southern San Francisco Bay, supporting a diverse ecosystem that includes several dozen fish species.

Besides offering the opportunity to work on a legacy project, the CIP presents a one-of-a-kind learning experience. Members of the CIP tackle the challenge of upgrading a working wastewater facility that operates 24/7, 365 days a year, processing roughly 110 million gallons of effluent every day. The skills you develop at the CIP will take you far, whether you remain in the public sector or venture into the corporate world.

The CIP also presents opportunities for growth and career advancement. The culture within the CIP and the San José Environmental Services Department is supportive and collaborative, with numerous opportunities for training, growth and career advancement, as a new series of videos with four members of the CIP team shows.

Megha Prakash, an associate engineer with the CIP, talks in one of the videos about the assistance she’s received from both CIP leadership and peers.

“We have an incredible set of engineers who work here at the plant that are willing to go out of their way to provide support on projects as well as personal development,” Megha says. “That is something that’s unique to this department. There’s a culture of empowerment that helps you rise and helps others rise along with you.”

To see the videos and find job opportunities at the CIP, visit ESD’s careers page at
May 28

ESD partners pursue technological breakthrough to recycling challenge

Posted on May 28, 2019 at 1:40 PM by Vitaly Litvinenko

ESD Director Kerrie Romanow and ESD staff discuss BioCellection chemical process with the company co-founders Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao
ESD Director Kerrie Romanow, third from right, and ESD staff discuss BioCellection’s chemical process with the company’s co-founders, Miranda Wang, second from right, and Jeanny Yao, right
BioCellection is heating up! The biotech startup – and ESD partner – is pursuing a solution to the global challenge of hard-to-recycle plastics, such as plastic film. And the world is taking notice.

Last month the company’s co-founders, Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao, participated in a panel discussion as part of the Women in the World Summit 2019, a prestigious event in New York City organized by former New Yorker editor Tina Brown and headlined by Oprah Winfrey. (See the video produced for the event.) While in New York, Yao was interviewed on People Now.

On Tuesday, the Mercury News published an informative story about BioCellection and the progress of its pilot program.

In addition, Wang is a finalist for the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, which recognize “exceptional individuals who have the courage and conviction to take on major challenges (and) extraordinary projects that make the world a better place.” (Learn more and vote for Wang on the awards webpage!)

The problem they’re tackling is huge. Scientists estimate there could be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. Their approach is extraordinary: using chemical processes to break down problem plastics and transform them into raw materials for use in other applications.

ESD is proud to partner with these inspiring women, who are working with City hauler GreenWaste Recovery to test and refine their technological process. To learn more about how that process works, check out this helpful CNN article (and accompanying video) from 2018.

We can’t wait to see what happens next!
Oct 10

Native and Drought-Tolerant Plants Save Water, Generate Life

Posted on October 10, 2018 at 4:12 PM by Carlos Velazquez

Have you ever heard a hummingbird up close? San José resident Andy Pierce likens the sound to that of a gas-powered model airplane.

“I was out here walking around, enjoying the yard, I might have been pulling a weed or two, and I had what sounded like a locomotive come flying into my ear,” Pierce recalled on a recent sunny morning in the front yard of his Cambrian neighborhood home. “It was a hummingbird, I guess trying to get nectar out of my ear.”

Pierce was jolted, but pleased. It’s one of countless hummingbird encounters he’s had since replacing his front lawn with native and drought-tolerant plants. His yard, once sterile, now teems with life, particularly bees and butterflies.

“I used to see maybe one honeybee every now and then,” he said. “Now I come out here and I see honeybees all over the place – all kinds of bees, actually. It’s great – I got what I wanted and so did the bees.”

Pierce not only gets more enjoyment out of his yard but also saves money on his water bills and time on maintenance. (He hasn’t touched his lawn mower in two years.) He’s one of a growing number of San José residents who are embracing drought-tolerant landscaping to beautify their homes and reduce their water consumption.
Andy Piece enjoys the yard of his Cambrian neighborhood home
Andy Pierce enjoys the yard of his Cambrian neighborhood home.

“It’s really taking off,” said Sherri Osaka, owner of San José-based Sustainable Landscape Designs, who points to our second most recent drought (2007 to 2009) as a tipping point in the movement toward native and drought-tolerant plants. “Before then, I was trying sneak native plants in. After that, people began asking for them.”

San Joséans reduced their water consumption 29 percent in 2016 compared to 2013, showing they are up to the challenge of improving water efficiency, which is a key element of Climate Smart San José, the City’s new sustainability plan.

With climate change diminishing the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which provides roughly a third of California’s drinking water, and the state’s population continuing to grow, communities are recognizing the need to be water-wise. Ensuring we have a long-term water supply means embracing our California climate, with its bone-dry summers. Since outdoor irrigation accounts for half of residential water use in San José, adopting a low-water landscape is an effective way to cut consumption dramatically.

“If you have a high-water landscape, or lawn, you’re watering about an inch a week,” said Osaka, whose home water consumption has dropped from 138,000 gallons a year to 38,000 gallons a year since she converted her lawn. “If you have drought-tolerant plants, you’re watering about a quarter of an inch per week.”

There are plenty of resources for those interested in low-water landscaping. The Santa Clara Valley Water District offers rebates for landscape conversions. The Bay Area Water Supply & Conservation Agency and other organizations offer free classes taught by experts like Osaka. For a list of classes near you, visit

Pierce saved money on his project through the Lawn Busters pilot program, a 2015 partnership between the San José Environmental Services Department, Santa Clara Valley Water District and Our City Forest.

For Pierce, the benefits of low-water landscaping go beyond saving money or improving his quality of life. He’s thinking longer term.

“We only get one shot at this,” he said. “I have two kids. And I want to leave them and their kids a healthy environment with a plentiful clean water supply.”

To learn more about Climate Smart San José, including tips to save energy and water and improve quality of life, go to