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SF PUC’s Labonte Honored as Government Civil Engineer of the Year

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) honored Julie L. Labonte, Director of San Francisco’s $4.6 billion Water System Improvement Program (WSIP), as the 2013 Government Civil Engineer of the Year. Founded in 1852, ASCE represents more than 140,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America’s oldest national engineering society.

Labonte with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) was presented with the award on Oct. 11 in Charlotte, N.C., at the ASCE national conference.

“I could not imagine a more deserving recipient of this prestigious honor than Julie,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly Jr., “She is a dynamic leader who has worked tirelessly to help the agency successfully complete our landmark Water System Improvement Program.”

Labonte has led WSIP for the past seven years. This regional program is one of the largest water infrastructure programs in North America, and the largest infrastructure program ever undertaken by the City of San Francisco. The WSIP includes more than 80 infrastructure projects, including the construction of a new dam, three tunnels, an ultraviolet treatment facility and many large pipelines, as well as the rehabilitation of numerous existing storage, treatment and transmission facilities.

General Manager Kelly noted that the on-time completion of WSIP projects enables the SFPUC to better respond and manage the recent Rim Fire emergency in Stanislaus National Forest. These projects will also help ensure that the regional water supply system serving 2.6 million Bay Area residents is more reliable and resilient following a major earthquake.

Labonte has more than 25 years of experience in utility engineering with positions in the private and public sectors. She has been at the SFPUC for 17 years, where she previously worked on the siting of new power generation in San Francisco, a multi-billion dollar wastewater master plan, the city’s largest redevelopment projects and several water quality assignments.

Labonte is also an active volunteer with Water for People, a leading international non-profit humanitarian organization dedicated to building a world where all people have access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Labonte just returned from a volunteer trip to Malawi to help build and improve the local water and sanitation infrastructure. Shortly after the 2011 Great East Earthquake and Tsunami, Labonte traveled to Japan with a U.S. delegation sponsored by the Water Research Foundation to share the state-of-the-art engineering designs and technologies used to seismically upgrade San Francisco’s regional water infrastructure, which were of great interest in Japan.

Born in Quebec, Canada, Labonte now resides in San Francisco. She holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from United States International University and dual master’s degrees in civil engineering from San Diego State and environmental engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.

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