Artist by Day, Water Treatment Engineer by Night

For Matt “Woody” Woodworth, work looks different every day.

Woodworth (left) at Sunol Water Treatment Plant.

During the week, he works 12-hour night shifts at SFPUC’s Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant. What’s different every day is his off-duty job — a creative trade at home—producing art pieces for shows at different local galleries in the Bay Area.

After spending several years as a graphic designer in New York, the Pacifica native came back home and made a career shift to the water industry. Woodworth spent two years at the SFPUC’s Harry Tracy Water Treatment Plant and then transferred about a year ago to the Sunol facility, where he’s on duty four to five nights a week. In the course of a night’s work, he will monitor the different treatment processes, make the fine but essential adjustments continually needed throughout the shift, and generally ensure the safety and high quality of our drinking water before it goes out to others.

One of Woodworth’s art installations.

His off-duty activity isn’t confined to a set schedule. Instead, Woodworth heads out at different times of day for the nearby coast, where he’ll surf, take pictures, and plot out studies for the next works. Subject matter varies, but most of the fanciful abstracts, illustrations and painted found objects reflect aspects of ocean life, from dune habitat or marine mammals to riding the waves.

Woodworth and his partner are also developing a children’s ocean education project. They’ll include coloring pages, cut-outs with different textures, and other interactive exercises to re-create an ocean experience on paper—and perhaps even instill the kind of reverence that, for some, comes with the sea.

Still when a work night rolls around, and it’s time for the next shift at Sunol Valley, Woody’s ready for that too. Woodworth said, “It’s the best job I’ve ever had.”

Another art piece from Woodworth.