Dan Stevenson is a Systems Operator, and is part of the team responsible for monitoring the millions of gallons of water that flows through Padre Dam’s pipelines and is stored in reservoir tanks.
Systems Operators are not only responsible for ensuring that this water is there when you need it, but that it is safe to drink. A Systems Operator must be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Because of this, they take turns working long shifts, day and night to ensure that someone is always monitoring the system.
“It takes a lot of effort to get water delivered to someone’s house,” Dan said. “There are people following and monitoring the water from the moment it enters our system to the moment it reaches your front door.”
Several Systems Operators are out in the field every day while another is stationed at the District’s SCADA room. SCADA stands for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, and is the system that monitors Padre Dam’s infrastructure throughout its 73 square mile service area. The SCADA system continuously relays information to the operator regarding water storage levels, chlorine content and pumps station operations. From this room, Operators have a comprehensive system overview from which to manage the distribution system.
Dan’s favorite part of his job is the variety of activities he performs. While he might be stationed in the SCADA room one week, he knows it’s not long until he will be out in the field checking meters, testing water and performing reservoir inspections.
Dan’s responsibilities include ensuring that all of the water in Padre Dam’s system is properly disinfected. Very specific levels of chlorine must be maintained in drinking water to keep it safe to drink. Chlorine dissipates over time, so water must be monitored to ensure that proper chlorine levels are maintained. Monitoring over 393 miles of distribution system pipeline is a big job, but automated chlorine monitors that transmit data back to the District’s SCADA system help provide guidance. Additionally, Systems Operators test water at connection points and pump stations in the system daily. If chlorine levels are off, Dan calculates the amount of chlorine necessary to add to the water to keep it safe.