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Valley Water Employees remain committed to Santa Clara County during public health crisis

June 29, 2020
Reuben Castro and Ron Tarabetz

As we work together to get through this global health crisis, Valley Water remains focused on continuing to deliver safe, clean water to our community, and protect residents and businesses from flooding.

The COVID-19 virus is not impacting the safety of your drinking water, or our ability to supply water in Santa Clara County.

Under the state and county’s shelter-in-place order, Valley Water is considered essential as an organization from a utility and public works perspective. Critical operations are continuing in support of our core mission of providing clean, safe water, essential infrastructure, water supply, flood protection projects and creek maintenance.

Like much of the Silicon Valley workforce, many of our Valley Water employees are teleworking during this crisis.

But countless others are continuing to work around the clock in our most critical and essential business operations, onsite or in the field, to make sure we maintain our commitment to the community to provide a reliable supply of safe, clean drinking water, and protection from flooding. Many workers are juggling responsibilities at home, including childcare challenges or caring for dependent family members, while continuing to serve their community.

As our local, state, national and global community continues to respond to COVID-19, we are going highlight some of the work that continues to be done by Valley Water employees to deliver safe, clean water.


Reuben Castro and Ron Tarabetz do some heavy lifting for Valley Water. They are a part of a team that recently received a massive supply of boulders weighing in at 5,800 tons. These boulders are going to local creeks, like Coyote Creek in San Jose and Upper Llagas Creek in Morgan Hill, to help with erosion, strengthen levees and solidify creek banks as part of the seasonal work done through the Stream Maintenance Program (SMP).

Castro is a senior maintenance worker and has been with Valley Water for 19 years. Tarabetz is a heavy equipment operator and has been with Valley Water for 18 years. They both enjoy working with the community while helping support flood protection in Santa Clara County.

During the SMP season, Castro leads one of his crews into creeks and streams to remove sediment, vegetation, trash, and debris –items that can block the natural water flow.

Tarabetz operates heavy equipment, like excavators and cranes, and uses them to remove trees and large debris, and also places boulders into our creeks to help stabilize the banks.

Castro and Tarabetz worked together to bring in the 5,800 tons of boulders. Castro is responsible for coordinating efforts for the purchase and delivery of the boulders, while Tarabetz operates an excavator to stack those huge rocks. Keeping the trucks running smoothly and maximizing the available space for the rock storage requires a lot of planning and strategy. It’s like playing Tetris, only with large boulders.

Castro and Tarabetz are part of Valley Water’s essential workforce. They continue to report to work each day because their job duties help reduce the risk of flooding and keep our communities safe.

“During these uncertain times, we are still performing watershed operations and maintenance in the community every day,” said Castro. “Keeping creeks and facilities cleaned and maintained for flood protection in Santa Clara County is important.”

They enjoy their public service roles at Valley Water and are dedicated to keeping residents and businesses safe.

Reuben Castro

  • What are you doing to adapt to shelter-in-place? “When not fulfilling my regular duties at Valley Water, I am following the guidelines of washing my hands frequently and staying at home.”
  • Hobbies or interests? “Before the shelter-in-place order, I enjoyed hanging out with my family and friends, cruising classic cars with my dad and brother, attending sporting events such as baseball, football games, motorsports events. Also, visiting with my 98-year old grandma and listening to her tell me stories from back in the day.”
  • Recent proud personal accomplishment: “I purchased a 1941 Chevrolet pickup truck as a surprise for my dad, which is also his birth year. I wanted to show my appreciation for always providing for me and my three older brothers while we were growing up.”
  • Most interesting Valley Water experience or accomplishment: “My most interesting experience is participating in the employee recognition awards committee for two years and playing on the former Valley Water softball league. Those experiences allowed me to meet many coworkers from other departments.”

Ron Tarabetz

  • What are you doing to adapt to shelter-in-place? “I’m avoiding unnecessary exposure to people, utilizing face masks, 6 feet physical distancing and washing my hands as often as necessary.”
  • Hobbies or interests? “Hunting, motorcycling, welding fabrication, and ranching.”
  • Recent proud personal accomplishment: “Married for 30 years.”
  • Most interesting Valley Water experience or accomplishment: “Completing a project management course in less than one year.”

Learn more in our Essential Employee Spotlights series

Valley Water manages an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean, safe water, flood protection and stewardship of streams on behalf of Santa Clara County's 2 million residents. The district effectively manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, an advanced recycled water purification center, a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory, nearly 285 acres of groundwater recharge ponds and more than 294 miles of streams. We provide wholesale water and groundwater management services to local municipalities and private water retailers who deliver drinking water directly to homes and businesses in Santa Clara County.