Some Baby Blue Eyes, a California native wildflower, taking in the sun.
A weekly newsletter by and for Metropolitan employees
June 10, 2019
The Mills Family Visits the Mills Treatment Plant
Last month, Metropolitan staff had the rare opportunity to relive a part of their history with a family that cherishes its connection to Metropolitan. Henry Mills’ daughter Betty, granddaughter, Katherine Soto, and cousin Melissa Mills were the guests of honor for a visit to the Henry J. Mills Water Treatment Plant.

Henry Mills started out as a surveyor on the Colorado River Aqueduct in 1930 and worked his way up to general manager in 1967, a position he held until his retirement in 1971.

Betty grew up as a “Metropolitan kid” and remembers everyone loved her father and called him Hank. She told stories of attending company picnics at Weymouth and of family road trips to Metropolitan facilities. “Dad took the family everywhere, even out to the desert facilities. We rode in the back of the pickup truck the whole way and loved it,” she recalled.

One of her favorite memories is from the (original) water quality lab at Weymouth where her dad shared a Dr. Pepper with her. It’s her favorite drink to this day.

Heather Collins , Water Treatment Section Manager, Gary Syfers , Mills Plant Manager and Benjamin Armel , Operations Manager provided a tour of the plant for the family.  David Keller , Met’s Archivist, took notes about the family memories and accepted boxes of photographs on loan for the Metropolitan Historical Collection. The Mills family also shared a scrapbook with photos of Hank on the CRA.

And of course, plenty of Dr. Pepper was served.
Using Innovative SmartBall Technology to Find Leaks
Innovation happens every day at Metropolitan. Some ideas are big. Others are rather small -- but have big success stories.

The SmartBall is one example. It’s a leak-detection device that’s only about the size of a ‘nerf ball’ but it’s saving lots of time and money. The company that developed the technology introduced it to our Corrosion staff several years ago and have participated at some of Met’s innovation events to share with other agencies.

Here’s how it works. The SmartBall travels within a pipeline and utilizes accelerometer, gyroscope, and hydrophone technology to detect any abnormal sounds that may indicate a potential leak. Recently, the SmartBall detected a leak in a busy street intersection that the Santa Monica Feeder pipeline runs through.

Based on the results of the pipeline inspection, internal bands were installed to repair a minor leak at a joint in the 28-inch cast iron pipeline in Beverly Hills. After the bands were installed, Met staff put the pipeline back into service and used a tethered listening device to inspect the repair site, confirming that the pipeline is leak free.

“It was a very small leak that we knew existed but was hard to find. This technology helped us locate and fix it, which avoided a lengthy shutdown and saved us a lot of money,” said WSO section manager Glen Boyd .

Met's Santa Monica Feeder runs from Eagle Rock to Santa Monica amd serves water to five cities: Glendale, Burbank, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.
A Champion of Tech Issues and Mountain Trails
She is, by her own account, a “self-professed technology geek,” a title she wears proudly. And for 25 years, Nancy Harris has bridged technology and people at Metropolitan. 

She helped start the IT Help Desk, back when the district was using only a mainframe, and was one of the first people at Met to earn a Help Desk Institute certification.

Nancy has also worked in TAC (Technical Assistance Center), Information Security and is now back in Customer Support.

“My story is a different than most,” she says. “My father told me on-the-job training was the best thing I could do. So I made the decision not to go to college.” Nancy explains that there was no career path in technology when she went to school, so she made it her lifelong career focus to learn those skills and to teach others. 

“I’m the person who actually reads the manuals,” she jokes. “But it’s so I can help people wherever they need it.” She is a caregiver by nature so customer support of all kinds, comes naturally.

But if you’re tempted to think most of Nancy’s time is behind a computer, think again. She is a two-time national champion downhill mountain bike racer, a sport she didn’t start until she was in her mid-40s. She loves to hike with her dogs and ski. A recent highlight was skiing with her 92 year-old dad.

She inherited (by marriage) one daughter, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren (with two more on the way) with her husband, Roger, of 38 years. 
New hires, transfers, promotions & retirements are posted here each month.    
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