An Educational Video Features No Actors — Only Professional Operations Personnel

A California clean-water district creates an award-winning virtual plant tour video to stay connected with residents during COVID.

An Educational Video Features No Actors — Only Professional Operations Personnel

Leucadia Wastewater District field service technicians were the stars of an educational video describing the entire treatment process.

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Professional actors need not apply.

California’s Leucadia Wastewater District produced a video describing its entire treatment process, and did it using field service technicians as the stars and narrator.

The video won a Public Outreach and Education Award from the California Association of Sanitation Agencies. Because of COVID, the district had to suspend plant tours. But leaders wanted to stay connected to residents and communicate to customers about the services they provide.

Public outreach consultant Rising Tide Partners said a video would help during the pandemic, and augment in-person tours once they can resume.

RISING STARS

The Leucadia district, in a northern San Diego County, operates a 1 mgd water recycling facility that serves 62,000 residents in a 16-square-mile service area that includes the southeast portion of the city of Carlsbad and the northern part of Encinitas. Its collection system includes 200 miles of pipeline.

As Rising Tide Partners started writing the video script, Paul Bushee, general manager, and Marvin Gonzalez, supervisor, met with the technicians to discuss the script. After that, the workers recorded their parts without teleprompters or prompts.

“The service techs were truly just naturals in front of the camera,” says Trisha Hill, administrative services supervisor. “They did an excellent job explaining what they do.” Hill notes that many were used to interacting with the public on their regular jobs and so were comfortable explaining their work on camera. They are also cross-trained in various areas.

“One requirement for the service tech III roles is that they must be comfortable with public speaking,” Hill says. “A lot of the equipment they use is very expensive, and we ask that they present their recommendations to the board of directors when they need to purchase a new item.” They tell the board what the equipment does, how it will benefit the community and why it is necessary.

 VIDEO PRODUCTION

Once the participants were chosen, the video took just three- and one-half days to film, plus 20 hours for editing. It was completed and live on the district’s website and Facebook page in four months. The district promotes the video in its newsletter and e-newsletter.

The 14-minute video starts with Paul Bushee describing the district’s territory and its services. The technicians then describe the work they do to help provide clean water. They discuss the workings of the pump station, and how a generator provides power in emergencies, and the vacuum trucks that help break up blockages in the sewer pipes.

In later segments, technicians describe the CCTV system for sewer inspection and the district’s belief in identifying problems in early stages. They highlight the control room and show video of what they see when the camera is in the pipes.

Techs also talk about manhole, pipeline, and easement maintenance and describe the stages of treatment that create reclaimed water for landscape irrigation at sites including the La Costa Resort and Spa golf course.

VALUABLE EDUCATIONAL

Before producing the video, the district was hosting just under 100 people a year for in-person tours. In just four months, the video was viewed more than 2,700 times. The video had the advantage of being able to cover areas not included in the in-person tours; viewers thus get a more complete view of the operation.

During the COVID lockdown when school kids were learning from home, teachers used the video to share information about the district and the importance of water. The students later returned to school, but as of last February, in-person tours had not resumed.

The district also offers educators virtual tours via Zoom, in which technicians talk about their roles; students then can interact in question/answer sessions. Perhaps the next rising stars are in the classrooms, viewing the presentations and thinking of a future with the district.



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