By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News 12/22/19
Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) produces 6.5 billion gallons of clean drinking quality water every year. It’s one of those things you never think about, but there’s an ebb and flow to the daily use of water in Las Cruces.
“During the week, you can tell the first group of customers gets ready to go around 4 a.m.; that’s when the water levels dip due to early morning showering, cooking, washing dishes, and maybe clothes washing,” explained Pascual Rodriguez, LCU Water Production supervisor. He says, “Then we hold steady until about 6 a.m. That’s when students, parents and workers get ready to go to work or school at 8. That lasts until about 9, and then water use is pretty steady until the evening.”
For Rodriguez, however, every day is different. He is the LCU associate on call watching and making sure all parts of the city have an adequate water supply, even during disruptions. For example, he explains, if there is a mainline break, one water tank can start to run low and he takes action to direct the flow of water from different pressurized zones across booster stations to make sure water is accessible to everyone.
Every day starts with Rodriguez examining the computerized Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system on a computer monitor in his office. It shows every LCU water well, tank, booster station, and their real time activity. If any alarm starts flashing, that’s the first order of business for Rodriguez and his crew to take care of. Then it’s back in the office to answer emails, get project quotes, or even prepare presentations for the public or students.
Rodriguez has a few career tips from his own life he shares with students: After high school, he went straight to work and spent 5 years doing various jobs and feeling like he was going nowhere. Then, he enrolled in Doña Ana Community College and earned an associate degree in Water Technology. He went to work at LCU as a crewman. Today – after a 25-year career at LCU – he has a crew working for him and encourages students to invest in their own lives and grow their careers.
At LCU, Rodriguez has worked his way up, but his early work as a crewman allowed him to do his current job better. “I want to make sure that the crew has what they need to do their job,” he said. “My job now is knowing the things that allow them to work to the best of their abilities.”
If you are tired of jobs that have no future? Think about an internship with LCU. LCU will pay for your tuition, educational expenses, and employ you during the semester at 20 hours per week. During the holidays, it’s 40 hours a week. Then, after you graduate, you commit to stay on with LCU for up to 8 years, developing your skills in your industry.
Decide to build a career; learn more about the internship at: http://www.las-cruces.org/1243/Internship-Program
You can reach Las Cruces Utilities at 528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Las Cruces Utilities provides GAS – WATER – WASTEWATER – SOLID WASTE services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: LCU Water Production supervisor, Pascual Rodriguez, has developed a 25-year career with Utilities. He is one of the associates responsible for providing a safe and secure supply of drinking water to customers.