I began my career here at SMWD on November 27, 1989, for the Operations Department. I worked with the Distribution Staff as a Maintenance 1 underfill. At the time, we were responsible for moving water throughout the District and Facility Maintenance. We did not have the SCADA Technology we have today, in fact, there was none at SMWD. We had to drive to all the reservoirs, check the levels, and operate pump stations accordingly. Facility reads and Import totals were done manually. After a few years, I had created these reports in Excel. Steve Loaiza and I are the only “Originals” from that team.
In the mid ’90s, SMWD purchased our first Sewer Video Inspection van. I was given the opportunity to pioneer that unit, as well as work with the Collections Crew. Back then, you were not required to have a Class A license, so I had many opportunities to operate the Vactor and learn about the Collections System in our District.
After a few years on the Video truck, I moved to the Lift Station crew, where I eventually became a Maintenance III. One of the responsibilities our crew had was maintaining the Confined Space equipment and Gas Detector equipment. I became certified to maintain and repair the SCBA’s (self-contained breathing apparatus), and the Gas Detectors. Also, during my tenure became OSHA Certified to conduct Confined Space training, AHA Certified First Aid/CPR Instructor, and Certified EMT. I served as Safety Committee Chairman for 5 years. It was during that period that our committee drafted and implemented the first Confined Space Program. I introduced and taught “in-house” safety training programs such as Confined Space, Respiratory Protection, First Aid/CPR, and Gas Detection. My last safety-driven effort was the introduction and implementation of AED units at the Main Office and Chiquita WRP. The initial rollout included tenants at the main office. They contributed in part to the implementation and were provided annual training and certification.
In 1998, I was promoted to Maintenance Foremen and tasked with building and managing a CMMS (computerized maintenance management system, MAXIMO), for Operations. Though I had extensive operational experience, and well versed in Excel, I had to become extensively educated on databases, servers, and the SQLServer platform. I built the system from the ground up. Working with various staff, developed customized work order forms that were manually entered into the system by OPS staff. I created the first “barcode” inventory system for the warehouse, and preventive maintenance procedures and schedules. I printed the work orders and issued them to various staff. This system was in operation for 10 years. In 2008, with my desire to move with technology, I implemented Maintstar. It was at this time, I was able to implement mobile technology, where staff began to use Toughbook laptops and iPads. I worked closely with the software developer and constantly I worked through staff feedback, to improve the system, provide training and support in which the ultimate goal was to utilize GIS as an enhancement. It was also during this period, that I was able to build the WorkSmart Automation Data System, and SQL Reporting Services. This allowed more automation to facility data collection and automated monthly reporting to the staff at SMWD, as well as outer agencies.
In 2013, I was moved to the IT Department. The value experienced in IT was that I understood what field staff required as it related to Information Systems. Although I was no longer working directly with the CMMS and GIS, I was able to support the DataServer side and improve mobile technology.
After roughly 3 years, I had the opportunity to move over to the SCADA Department as an Instrumentation Systems Tech. Working in the department has its challenges. Operators take for granted turning a pump on and off for example, and it just works. They are dependent on the status of a facility or an alarm that something has failed. But what makes that pump turn on or off successfully? How is that information gathered and displayed? It’s the SCADA Team that makes this all happen. And it can get very complicated. The guys I work with are phenomenal. They constantly work out ways to improve the system and support the customer (SMWD Staff). Working in the bucket truck, climbing towers, building PLC panels, mounting communications are only a few of the exciting task. Every day is an opportunity. Important to me is that the “Team” is supportive. There is always something new and challenging in my world of SCADA.
30 years on this giant rollercoaster and continue to enjoy the ride!