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Public works director named Supervisor of the Year
It was a good year for Jesse Cain, the city of Colusa's public works director and superintendent of water and sewer, something that was noticed by the California Water Environment Association, Northern Sacramento Valley.
At the CWEA-NSV annual awards banquet on Feb. 1, the city of Colusa was presented with the Collection System of the Year Award, while Cain received the title of Supervisor of the Year.
Cain and the city were honored again on Feb. 4, when CWEA-NSV President Nancy Cameron presented the awards to Cain in front of the city council.
Cain was quick to point to his staff.
"To be nominated with the crew — the amount of guys we have — is great," Cain said, adding the city's water and sewer staff was lacking in numbers. "Before we put the new treatment plant in, we had six people. Now, we have four. So it's a lot more work for less people. I'm hoping I am going to be able to make a couple of new hires soon."
Cain said 2013 marked the first time in his tenure with the city — stretching back to 1999 — that there were no sanitary sewer overflows.
"That's where you actually have water coming up out of the manholes and onto the street," Cain said. He added the annual number of sanitary sewer overflows fluctuates but that on average the city might have seven to eight in a year.
"Three years ago, I told a couple of my guys that my goal was to have zero SSOs. They told me that that was unreachable," Cain said. "It took three years, but we got it."
Cain attributed his department's recent success to preventative maintenance and regularly checking the sewers. A new vacuum truck has helped the thin crew work faster, Cain said.
"We try to clean 3,000 to 5,000 feet of sewer line a month. I'd like to do more. I'd like to do 10,000," Cain said.
The Collection System of the Year award rotates between different agencies within the Northern Sacramento Valley area from year to year, but Cain hopes it will stay with Colusa for some time.
"Our goal is — now that we have it — to keep it here now. To get nominated again next year and win again. Will that happen? I have no idea. But we're going to try," Cain said.
The supervisor of the year award was a surprise for Cain when he was presented with it at the CWEA NSV banquet.
"I didn't know anything about that until our banquet. I was nominated by my lead operator, is what I found out later," Cain said. "They wrote a letter of nomination as part of the nomination process. I still don't know what that letter said. But I guess they liked what they read in it."
Cain has been the public works director for the city for the past five years. Among his achievements in his tenure are the implementation of a number of cleaning procedures and the expansion of the city's Fats, Oils, and Grease Ordinance.
"I expanded it from just a paragraph to 24 pages," Cain said.
Now the city has the ability to fine noncompliant restaurants and requires them to keep records of their disposal of fats, oils and grease. Can said the improper disposal of those substances causes problems for the city's sewers — namely, blockages that can lead to SSOs.
The CWEA-NSV award qualifies the Colusa and Cain to compete at the state level with other winners.
"I don't know if we've anticipated trying to move forward at the state level. I don't know if we're gonna do that," Cain said.