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Faces of Yuba Water John James, Water Operations Project Manager

Photo: John and a field researcher with Scripps Institution of Oceanography prepare to launch a weather balloon as part of atmospheric river research.

Yuba Water Agency's water operations project manager, John James, is responsible for flood risk reduction projects specifically related to reservoir operations and weather forecasting, in addition to supporting optimization of the agency's hydroelectric power generation. Scroll to learn more about John.

What do you do for Yuba Water Agency?

I manage the Yuba Water's flood risk reduction projects that are related to reservoir operations and coordinate with our regional partners. In addition, I support optimizing the agency’s hydroelectric energy in the California Independent System Operator Market and work on a variety of strategic initiatives primarily related to the agency’s missions of flood risk reduction, water supply and hydroelectric power.

Have your essential duties changed since COVID-19? If so, what has changed?

There hasn't been any real change in duties since COVID. Remote work has been challenging, but at times more efficient. Balancing distance learning support for my four kids while remote working can be interesting, but I am really impressed how everyone has adapted.

Photo: John and his family enjoy some time at the lake.

What do you enjoy most about working for Yuba Water Agency?

I love being able to work on multiple aspects of the agency’s missions, applying my background in meteorology and reservoir and hydroelectric operations. The Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) project that is working to improve weather forecasts to support reservoir operations improvements was seemingly tailor-made for me. The project has been personally and professionally rewarding. The best part, along with water control manual updates and our planned secondary spillway at New Bullards Bar, is that FIRO will have such an impact on improving the lives of the people here in the region.

Tell us something about yourself that most of us don't know.

All of my family, including parents, siblings (4), wife and children’s names start with the letter “J”. When my wife Jen and I married, we really had no choice but to continue the tradition (her brother is a J as well). Our children's names are Jostelyn, Juliette, Jenevieve and Jacob.

John's kids enjoy a day in Lake Tahoe at Emerald Bay (left). John prepares to release a sensor from one of NOAA's Hurricane Hunter planes for atmospheric river research (right).

Before working for Yuba Water Agency, what was the most interesting job you had?

Most recently, I worked 14 years in hydroelectric operations for PG&E at the Drum Switching Center. I also worked in Silicon Valley for a company where I provided weather forecasts and routing information for cargo ships around the world. I will say the agency is by far the best place I have worked in my career. The people here at agency are fantastic, they support each other, are highly-skilled and care about the community and our impact on it.”

Tell us an unusual story or experience you’ve had while working for Yuba Water Agency.

In March 2020, right before the pandemic, I was fortunate to be offered the chance to fly in one of NOAA's “Hurricane Hunters” as part of the Atmospheric River Reconnaissance Program, where they fly over the Pacific Ocean and drop sensors in and around storms. It was one of those "is this happening" moments for me as I have always been fascinated with weather and forecasting. I will never forget the experience and thank Scripps Institution of Oceanography for facilitating the opportunity.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I picked up running a few years ago and just recently completed a half-marathon. I also enjoy spending time with my family and dogs, watching and supporting my kids' athletics, participating on the Colfax Elementary School Board, camping, bike riding and games.

John and a field researcher with Scripps Institution of Oceanography prepare to launch a weather balloon as part of ongoing atmospheric river research.