NARRATIVE: The City of San Luis Obispo, dubbed the Happiest Place in America, prides itself on the 
strength, compassion, and stewardship of its people. Community members and visitors alike benefit 
immensely from the forward-thinking leadership of the City, exemplified by the City of San Luis Obispo’s 
Utilities Department. The Utilities Department is a leader in living out the One Water concept. Without 
the solid foundation of the City’s organizational culture, the Utilities Department and the community 
would not be the leaders they are today.  

The Utilities Department recognizes how valuable its people are and invests in their futures. Below are 
just a few examples of not only how the Department upholds the organizational culture exhibited by a 
Utility of the Future Today, but also leads the way in management excellence.   

• MUD Meetings. The entire department comes together at least three times a year to host MUD 
meetings (Meetings of the Utilities Department), which consists of 65 employees, to build morale, 
encourage team bonding, and provide educational presentations. MUD are entirely planned, organized, 
and facilitated by Utilities staff.  

 • WRRF Intern Program. The Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) Intern Program provides people 
with the opportunity to become a wastewater treatment plant operator. The program trains interns to 
obtain the skills they need to become safe, effective, innovative, and motivated plant operators. The 
Water Quality Laboratory Intern Program is a similar program that provides opportunities for people to 
become laboratory analysts. These programs give the operators and lab analysts an opportunity to 
engage and educate the next generation of staff. Both programs expose interns to the inner workings of 
the City, allowing them to develop a network of contacts that prove invaluable when they are ready to 
pursue a career, often at the City itself.   

• Cross-training Program. The cross-training program supports staff resilience and sustainability by 
providing water treatment, water distribution, wastewater collection, stormwater system, water quality 
laboratory, and wastewater treatment staff opportunities to learn what other sections within the 
department do day-to-day. The voluntary program provides staff with an avenue to make lateral career 
changes, if desired, and promotes the One Water concept among staff.  

• Skills-Based-Pay Program. The Utilities Department has pioneered a Skills-Based-Pay (SBP) program, 
used now in other departments within the City. The SBP program provides financial incentives to those 
that exhibit leadership skills and show a desire to learn, expand their skillset, and obtain higher