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Faces of Yuba Water jacob vander meulen, Environmental Compliance Officer

Environmental Compliance Officer Jacob Vander Meulen joined Yuba Water Agency as a full-time employee two years ago and hit the ground running, having previously worked with the agency for nearly six years as a contractor. As the agency's environmental compliance officer, Vander Meulen ensures Yuba Water's projects meet federal, state and regional environmental laws including the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and everything in between. This includes ensuring all of the agency's projects, from resurfacing a parking lot at New Bullards Bar Reservoir to implementing fisheries management strategies on the Yuba River, have all of the proper permits in place before work begins.

What does your average day look like? What are some of your essential duties?

No day is ever the same because we have so many things going on at once, but a typical day consists of a continuous stream of communication with regulatory agencies, environmental consultants and our internal team. These open lines of communication allow the agency to efficiently meet regulatory requirements while still advancing its core mission areas. When I am fortunate enough to get out from behind the computer screen, I perform site visits at our various project locations to deliver worker environmental awareness training, audit for environmental compliance and survey for environmental data such as the presence of sensitive wildlife habitats and cultural artifacts.

Photo: Vander Meulen talks with a contractor working on a Narrows 2 access road improvement.

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

I really enjoy the variety of fascinating projects happening at the agency. Being around and seeing the innerworkings of big, impressive infrastructure, the stunning scenery and knowing that I am contributing to a brighter future for our community are all major perks of employment with Yuba Water. However, more than anything else, my favorite part of working for Yuba Water is being surrounded by such a brilliant group of people on a daily basis.

Have your essential duties changed since COVID-19?

Other than wearing a mask, being careful to social distance, switching to more Zoom meetings and taking my temperature upon entering any Yuba Water facility, my daily work activities have not been substantially affected by COVID-19.

Photo: Vander Meulen and Associate Hydro Engineer Casey Peterson on site during the recent Narrows 1 standpipe replacement.

Before working here, what was the most interesting job you had?

Before joining Yuba Water, the most interesting job I had was a seasonal job with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. In this position, I snorkeled and electro-fished for fisheries resources in the upper Salmon River drainage just about every day for two summers. I experienced a lot of amazing places and formed many long-lasting relationships.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love spending as much of my free time as possible outside. If you catch me at home, I will be in the garden, out in the pasture with the goats, or working on miscellaneous projects around the yard. A favorite pastime of mine is exploring to find new fishing spots.

Photo: Vander Meulen catches a bite while fishing.

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

Most people probably don’t know that I am getting married later this month!

Left: Vander Meulen displays a carrot harvest from his garden. Middle: Vander Meulen poses with fiancé - and Yuba Water Business Systems Analyst - Nicole Hayden. Right: Vander Meulen gives good-boy belly-rubs to the family's Great Pyrenees, Goliath.