Staff Recognition

Superior Accomplishment Awards



  • Walter Plachta, Engineering Geologist, Fresno
  • Cindy Au-Yeung, Environmental Scientist, Rancho Cordova
  • True Khang, Environmental Scientist, Rancho Cordova
  • Jennie Fuller, Sr. Environmental Scientist, Specialist Rancho Cordova
  • Eric Warren, Water Resources Control Engineer, Fresno

Last year, Basin Plan Amendments became effective and implementation commenced on a region-wide Salt and Nitrate Control Program. As a condition of their approval, State Board also directed staff to develop a basin plan amendment to revise certain portions of the program within 12 months of the program's effective date. These simultaneous efforts have impacted almost every Board program and have required a tremendous amount of coordination and oversight by the staff members receiving this award today.

Staff working on the implementation effort poured through thousands of permittee records from CIWQS to create a database that could be used for generating the Notice to Comply letters for both the Salt and Nitrate Control Programs. In addition, they developed a variety of protocols, permit revisions, templates and procedures to ensure a consistent and efficient roll-out of the CV-SALTS program. Staff also participated in a multitude of meetings and provided timely follow-up to hundreds of phone calls and emails from both internal and external stakeholders.

At the December 2020 Board Hearing, revisions to the CV-SALTS program were adopted by the Central Valley Water Board, thus meeting the deadline set by State Board. Walt, Cindy, True, Jennie and Warren are valued staff members of the Central Valley Water Board and have been critical to the success of the CV-SALTS program. The CV-SALTS program could not have met its goals and milestones without their hard work and dedication. We are fortunate to have them working at the Central Valley Water Board and they are well deserving of this award.



  • Janelle Brown, Associate Governmental Program Analyst

This Superior Accomplishment Award (SAA) is to be awarded to Janelle Brown, whose tireless dedication in so many areas has helped the Central Valley Waterboard maintain excellence in Board Meeting preparation, the production of multiple Virtual Board Meetings in 2020, the production of the Executive Officer's Report, compliance to ADA specifications for applicable documents, and her coordinating of many lab sampling events for the Rancho Cordova office.

The truth is that Janelle can receive the SAA based on her incredible work ethic and high capacity to achieve alone. But Janelle's excels at so much more. Her work product is superior, her sense of pride and dedication to her work is off the charts, and Janelle is continually searching for ways to improve her work product in every area. I believe I can speak for Kelli Garver, Patrick Pulupa and EMG when I state that Janelle has been an incredibly valuable asset for the Central Valley Waterboard during this challenging year of 2020. It often gets over-stated, but the phrase we wouldn't have been as successful without Janelle speaks volumes of truth. The virtual board meeting success would be less so without Janelle's valuable contributions in this area.

Additionally, the value Janelle has brought to being a guru of ADA compliance has been enormously beneficial to Region 5's Rancho Cordova office. She has trained multiple staff on how to make their documents ADA complaint. Also, Janelle's incredible lab background has enabled her to continue to be an asset to Region 5 program areas, who use this valuable lab contract to test on a routine basis. Moreover, much of Janelle's work over the last year has meant doing new tasks and stepping into help Region 5 function smoothly. Without Janelle's ability to do this, Region 5 would not have enjoyed the same success. In conclusion, Janelle's incredible work effort, work ethic, and positive attitude has been critical to the success of Virtual Board Meetings, EO Reports, ADA work and lab sampling events for Region 5. We are very fortunate to have Janelle working at the Central Valley Waterboard and she is well deserving of this award.



  • Carlos Cervantez, Engineering Geologist

Carlos Cervantez is an Engineering Geologist in the Fresno office and has worked in the Title 27 Unit for 1.5 years. He began working full time in August 2015. He has been working very hard and has been hands on and eager to learn about all the construction requirements for Title 27 facilities. He recently reviewed the closure design plans for a landfill. He also finished reviewing the design and geologic reports for a different landfill and discovered a potential release after excessive data review and has reviewed their alternative demonstration report.

He assisted with the review of a 2,000-page Construction Quality Assurance report, which includes the slope failure at the site from last summer, all while learning the applicable regulations for his job.

He always has a great attitude, is easy to work with, and is eager to learn and help out on other staff’s projects. He has been a great help to the unit when it comes to “filling-in” for staff to conduct site inspections.

Carlos has also helped with some of his former position’s industrial stormwater activities until that vacancy can be filled. Carlos is a team player and very worthy of this award. Congratulations Carlos.



  • Mike Nilsen, Water Resource Control Engineer

Mike Nilsen is a Water Resource Control Engineer working in the NPDES Unit of the Central Valley Water Board's Redding Office. Mike manages a complex and demanding case load of wastewater treatment plants. The Central Valley Water Board is happy to select Mike for the Superior Accomplishment Award for his excellent work. Specifically, his efforts in resolving a longstanding enforcement case, overseeing multiple wastewater treatment plant upgrade projects, and his contributions to high level programmatic work.

Mike spent more than a year working with a small city through settlement negotiations to resolve permit violations including a substantial 2+ million-gallon sewage spill from their collection system as well as numerous effluent limitations subject to mandatory minimum penalties. The result of Mike's effort was a settlement package with total liability exceeding $1 million dollars, with some money going towards repairs of the City's collection system, some to upgrades of their wastewater treatment plant, and some to the State Water Board's water pollution cleanup and abatement account. The settlement was issued in October 2020.

Additionally, Mike is doing a tremendous job ushering along several wastewater treatment plant upgrade projects. One particular example is another small city that unexpectedly faced a significant construction funding shortfall in 2020, but thanks to Mike's persistence, quick action, and good working relationship with the City and State Board Division of Financial Assistance, the City received an additional $2 million in grant funding and a reduction in the interest rate on their loan to zero percent. The City should now be on track to begin construction in 2021.

Mike is also playing an instrumental role in revamping the NPDES Program's Permit Writer's "Matrix" - which is our programmatic tool to help promote consistent implementation of regulatory approaches in NPDES permits throughout the region. For these reasons and so much more, we're happy to provide Mike with this well-earned recognition, his efforts are very much appreciated!