Forty Five High School Students Tour San Francisco’s Water Distribution Facilities

Earlier this week, dozens of high school students went on a tour that they will never forget.

Forty five students from John O’Connell High School in the Public Service Pathway toured the SFPUC’s City Distribution Division (CDD) facilities. Students learned how SFPUC crews work around the clock to ensure that San Francisco has a safe and reliable water system. Though the tour enlightened the students on the diverse work involved with operating and maintaining the City’s water system, the conversations with staff about their experiences, career, and journey were unforgettable.

Bill Teahan, Operations Manager of the City Distribution Division at the SFPUC (left) leads the students on a tour of CDD facilities.
SFPUC staff from water quality technicians to mechanics spoke with the students about their experiences and career.

As the students toured the CDD facilities, they got a glimpse of the SCADA and engineering systems used to operate the water system, heard how the SFPUC leverages earthquake-resistant ductile iron pipes from Japan, learned that the SFPUC tests drinking water to ensure it meets safety standards, and saw how other functions such as electricians, carpenters, and mechanics support the SFPUC’s critical work every day. The students also learned about future upgrades to CDD facilities.

“A big part of the Public Service Pathway are the students’ interests in identifying the pathways of these types of jobs,” said Ronnie Versher, SFPUC Workforce Development Manager. “Prior to the start of this program, they may not have known what went into managing San Francisco’s water system and supply. The students shared how valuable it was to hear from SFPUC crews about their mission-critical work, city benefits, and why they like their jobs.”

The John O’Connell High School students in the Public Service Pathway visited the carpentry shop at the CDD facilities.

The Public Service Pathway at John O’Connell High School is Letterhead Template – Retail In-City currently engaged in a six-week curricular unit that aims to deepen students’ awareness of the SFPUC operations and careers through CS-1081, the Memorandum of Agreement between SFPUC and SFUSD for the John O’Connell Career Awareness Pilot. Next month, the students will present what they learned during the last six weeks. Their presentations will focus on water infrastructure and affordability, and take place at the SFPUC’s headquarters at 525 Golden Gate Avenue on February 18.

“When I went on this tour to CDD with the students, it was great to see how this experience connected back to the SFPUC’s kinder-to-career strategy,” said Versher. “The intention behind offering these first-hand experiences is to introduce SFPUC jobs or careers to young adults who have not thought about these options before. It’s about looking at real humans, doing real jobs, and connecting that to a real place. And that is truly fulfilling for me to see.”

SFPUC staff from water quality technicians to mechanics spoke with the students about their experiences and career.