The best things come in small packages because small things often have the most value. On May 30, South Coast Water District lost one of our most prized assets to a lovely beach in Florida. Sara may seem to appear slight of stature or some might say small, but appearances are quite deceiving.
Sara came to SCWD four years ago. She spent over 20 years with the City of Anaheim as a principal water and civil engineer. At that critical point in time, SCWD needed her extensive knowledge and her fierce set of skills. SCWD was heading into a full list of capital improvement projects that had been languishing.
Sara went to work quickly completing the 2017 Infrastructure Master Plan, a project that will continue to serve as the road map for CIP projects for the District. She also completed the 2015 Urban Water Management Plan, wildland fringe fire protection enhancements, value engineering study for the replacement/rehab of the Lift Station No. 2 Force Main Project, recycled water system analyses to optimize distribution and enhance reliability, and the revision of District Standards and Policies, to better protect the District and our assets.
“It would be one thing if Sara were just nice, or just a great engineer, or just a good mentor, or just down to earth, but she is, in fact, all of those things,” smiles Principal Engineer Taryn Kjolsing. “Although my time working with her was relatively brief, she taught me more about the type of engineer and leader I should strive to be than people I spent years working with.”
“Fierce” was one of the words that often came up when you asked for a description of Sara. She showed a heartfelt and powerful intensity in getting the work done that was appreciated by everyone. “All I can say is Sara has been a tremendous help to the JRWSS division,” said Transmission Main Manager Kyle Gough. “Her persistence when dealing with contractors and engineers to protect the JRWSS Transmission Main(s) has taken quite a load off my shoulders.” Kyle continued, “We encountered a problem when installing a new trunk line sewer directly over a 36’’ Transmission Main. The other agency was in clear violation of health code when performing the installation, and when asked to stop, they refused.” Sara did not take no for an answer. “She went to great lengths to ensure the Transmission Main was protected, and the new installation would not negatively impact it,” said Kyle.
Sara led the engineering team as the acting chief engineer through an abrupt transition starting in February 2018, when our chief engineer took on the role of acting general manager. She graciously held the position through April 2019 even though she had already been planning her retirement. In May 2019, Sara stayed to make sure there was a smooth transition to new Chief Engineer Marc Serna. Her actions reflected her values. “Always an excellent leader, Sara, by example, walks the walk and always displays the highest level of integrity,” said General Manager Rick Shintaku.
Sara bid us adieu last week, saying, “I am grateful for having had the opportunity to work with great people who take pride in what they do.” Her final words to staff reflected every day she worked her at SCWD. “Take care and do awesome things every day.”
A litany of just a few of Sara’s accomplishments here at the District:
Led all engineering planning efforts, including:
Led CIP projects for SCWD and JRWSS, including:
Led Development Services projects and efforts, including: