How long have you worked for City of Eugene/MWMC?
I’ve been here since 2002, so 20 years now. I started working in the water industry in Wyoming in collections and distributions. I moved to Oregon for this job as an operator. A year ago, I started working on the Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) project. I still do operations stuff as needed, but my focus has been making clean gas.
What does a typical day at work look like?
One of the major challenges here is that a “typical day” includes reviewing many complex processes and making sure they are all on target, so there’s constant evaluation of the effectiveness of what we’re doing. We also have to troubleshoot process interruptions and upsets whenever they happen. It’s everything from making sure the water is flowing to the right place, to making sure each piece of equipment is operating in the correct parameters, to being able to identify equipment failures. It’s a routine job, but each day has different challenges.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
My favorite thing is working with talented people, especially on this RNG (Renewable Natural Gas) project. I like to be a sponge and soak up all the information I can, so it’s really neat to see people who know what they’re doing and how to do it well. This organization is full of talented people, and I just feel lucky to take part in it.
You won an award from Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association for Operator of the Year. What significance did that hold for you?
The award represents an entire team of people who made the RNG system a successful project; I was just lucky enough to be the lead operator. But without the input from all the different groups and organizations, it never would’ve happened. MWMC had the vision and provided the resources to make sure that the vision came to fruition. It’s a great success story about what collaboration can do.
You’ve mentioned before that you love the outdoors. What are some of your favorite outdoors activities, and does interacting with the environment impact your work?
I value an environment where people can interact with the river and not worry about getting sick. I’m a boater, and even snorkeling in the river is fun. I do it for the animals too. With the way the environment is now, animals have such a hard time, all the way down to the microbes we take for granted.
I also ski and hike, and it’s great to get up in the mountains. Some of my favorite memories are camping at Waldo Lake, and I love driving the Oregon coast and going wine-tasting with my wife.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen working in the water industry?
There is all manner of unmentionables that flow into the plant that I won’t discuss here. But mostly the weirdest things happen when you physically scale up by working with such large quantities of water. I’ve seen some geysers that are really high! Most problems are unique: you’ve never experienced it before, and once you correct it, you’ll probably never experience it again. A lot of things aren’t overly dramatic; they’ll be a combination of several small, weird things creating one large, weird thing. We’ll often be working toward a solution on something, and then we’ll look at each other and say, “Wow, that was weird!”
To learn more about the MWMC and our team's work, visit our website, mwmcpartners.org