Meet Chief Water Service Inspector Kenneth Payne

A typical day for SFPUC Chief Water Service Inspector Kenneth Payne is supporting his team that could be spread across hundreds of miles.

Payne supervises a team of Water Quality Technicians who are responsible for collecting regulatory drinking water and raw water samples in a geographical area that stretches nearly 200 miles, from Yosemite Valley to San Francisco. He also manages the City’s cross-connection control program, including its inspectors and support staff. The cross-connection program tracks annual testing of over 30,000 backflow prevention assemblies.

Payne works closely with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Building Inspection, and other City entities to address backflow prevention issues in general, as well as the City’s increasing use of on-site treated water systems. In addition, he is a certified Backflow Prevention Assembly Tester, Cross-Connection Control Specialist, and Distribution Operator Grade Level D4.

Kenneth Payne, SFPUC Chief Water Service Inspector.

Payne has seen the SFPUC expand its diverse workforce starting with young people. It starts by exposing them to different career paths in the utilities industry and training them for full-time positions.

“I think our practice of hiring temporary Public Service Aids promotes a more diverse work environment,” he said. “Many of these Public Service Aids go on to become full-time Water Quality Technicians and Water Service Inspectors.”

Payne recommends students to apply for the 9922 public service aid position at the SFPUC. “This is a good way to gain operational experience and meet the minimum qualifications for the Water Quality Technician role,” he advised. “They can also take courses online in water treatment and distribution operation from Sacramento State to become certified operators.”

Kenneth Payne coordinates with various City agencies to address backflow prevention issues as the City’s increasing use of on-site treated water systems.