Got Water? ES Member Works to Provide Water Supply Into the Future


Since more than 60 percent of the adult body is made up of water, it’s safe to say that water is an important part of our daily lives.

Providing access to reliable and safe drinking water across California is a monumental task that involves a lot workers and a lot of long-term planning.

Much of Local 21 Member Cris Tulloch’s day focuses on future water planning efforts that she’ll never see the results of.  As an Associate Water Resources Specialist at the Santa Clara Valley Water District, Cris helps develop long-term water supply plans.

“I look at changes in population and what that means for water demand in the future. Then we compare future demand to future expected water supplies. Will we have enough reliable supply in the future?” said Cris, a Member of Local 21’s Engineers Society.

In addition to compiling projections and reviewing data from regional agencies, Cris and her colleagues review risks to future water supply reliability projects such as water conservation programs, water transfers, California WaterFix, and using purified, recycled water to meet the needs of the growing Silicon Valley.

One of the risks that Cris focuses on is climate change.

“Part of the water demand analysis includes climate change.  Risks to water supply reliability is also significant.  Climate change has the potential to make droughts worse.  We’ve always had droughts, if you go back millennia,” Cris said. “However, the increased temperatures are likely to make droughts we would see normally more severe.”

Climate change impacts precipitation, water availability and alters environments in streams, rivers and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  That harm on ecosystems can trigger increased environmental regulations to protect species, which in turn constrains how water can be moved across the state, or even locally.

Cris says her mission of ensuring access to clean drinking water has kept her steadfast throughout her 30-year career with the Water District.

“What keeps me positive about work is the benefit to the public, keeping people’s drinking water protected,” she said.

Decades ago, growing up across the street from the District’s current site on Almaden Expressway in San Jose, Cris didn’t know that she would find a passion in protecting drinking water for the greater good. 

“I remember walking around the campus and I saw a cafeteria right on the pond and I said, ‘I want to work here someday,’” Cris joked.  “I had no idea what this place was at the time.”

“Then in college (San Jose State University), we were learning about significant problems with drinking water like what was happening with the Great Lakes and locally with IBM and Fairchild contamination of groundwater in the 1980s.  And it had never occurred to me that people would have their rights to safe, clean, drinking water violated. Even though drinking water was not my thing, I knew I wanted to protect the right to safe drinking water for others.”