Zone 7 Water Agency was honored with an award from the Department of Defense for its role in supporting staff member Andy Chamberlain’s service in the military reserves.

Zone 7 is one of 40 employers statewide given the Above and Beyond Award by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense program.

The presentation was made at the June 19 Zone 7 board meeting by retired Army Col. Phil Stage, who lives in Pleasanton.

The Above and Beyond Award is a step above the Patriot Award, which is given to 2000 employers. Zone 7 received that award in 2018, also for its encouragement of Chamberlain. It was presented to Principal Engineer Joe Seto, who supervises Chamberlain.

On accepting his award, Chamberlain stated, “The agency supports me and my fellow reservists with an excellent military leave policy, full reintegration into staff roles and projects following periods of leave, and continued acknowledgement on project teams during those periods. This provides peace of mind and allows us to focus on our military commitments when we are training, or if we are called to active duty.”

Board Vice-president Sandy Figuers said that in accepting the award, Zone 7 reaffirms its commitment to supporting the service members who continue the heritage of military service. “On behalf of Zone 7 and my fellow board members, I want to express how honored we are to maintain that heritage, and to play a part in supporting the defense of our great nation.”

Figuers said the nation’s reservists carry on the spirit of the original American soldiers. There were no professional solders for many years in the nation’s history, he noted.


The board also heard information about a new program Zone 7 plans to offer for water conservation.

Staff member Robyn Navarra said the program is called “Garden in a Box.” It consists of a box on a pallet that includes instructions for watering. Local nurseries are usually involved.

Navarra heard about the concept last year at a water-smart program in Colorado. The program there saved more than 1 billion gallons of water. Programs offered in Texas and Southern California have been successful, she said.

Navarra envisions that the palettes would range from 100 to 600 square feet; the boxes could include succulents.

Purchasers would have to attend an hour-long workshop to learn how to install and maintain them. Director Dick Quigley said that since the drought, many people have changed to succulent gardens. He supports that.

Garden succulents are fleshy plants that store water in leaves and stems, and provide an assortment of shapes, sizes, and colors.

Director Olivia Sanwong said that she wants to learn more about the Garden in a Box for her own personal use at home.

Navarra would like to roll out Garden in a Box in Fiscal Year 2020-21 but needs to see how much grant money she can raise by then. The program would give a rebate of $50 per unit to encourage purchases of the 500 projected units.