Mike in Water
"It’s all about customer service and I've always liked taking care of other people. For me, it's knowing that my job is to be detail oriented to deliver safe water. "
Meet Mike, City employee of three years and valued maintenance worker, who recently transferred to the water department. He is currently embarking on a two-year Water Operator apprenticeship with Evergreen Rural Water of Washington (ERWOW.)
This apprenticeship is a first for the water department and the City and will provide two years of supervised training and accreditation.
Q - How would you describe the responsibilities of the Water Department in a nutshell?
A – Every day we perform a daily route to test water all over town for chlorine residual, turbidity, and monitor how much water is being used throughout the system. Monthly and annually, we test for several different chemicals and bacteria to ensure safe drinking water. As needed, we install or replace water meters and fix any water main or service line breaks that may occur. This can involve digging up the road and repairing the pipe or replacing it as needed. We also maintain and monitor all our reservoirs and pumps.
Q - Tell us about the details of your Water Operator apprenticeship.
A - It's a two-year apprenticeship program, which is something new for the City, but the program has been around for about five years. The apprenticeship program is to address the shortage of water distribution managers and water treatment plant operators due to so many veteran operators retiring in the nearing future. We are taking advantage of federal funding to boost up the number of people who are going to take all those places. This internship starts you at square one with the basics of safety, maintenance and operations. By the end of the first year, the process will prepare you to take your Cross Connections and Water Distribution Manager I exams. I was fortunate to have prior experience so I have enough experience hours that I can test for Level I soon. In my second year of the apprenticeship, I can get my Level II. To be a Water Operator for the City, all three of these certifications must be achieved.
Q- This apprenticeship is a first for the City and water department. How does it feel to be a part of this pioneering initiative?
A - I think it's exciting, being one of the first ones to go through it. Just testing the waters, so to speak. No pun intended.
Q- What does an average day at work look like for you now as you get started?
A - It's mainly a combination of on-the-job training and classes directly related to the apprenticeship. While doing this, I am also learning how our system functions. ERWOW organizes everything for you and guides you along their timeline.
Q - What's the most rewarding compliment you've received for your work?
A – I try to be humble, so I just put my head down and work. However, when you hear the citizens of town thank you for what you're doing or tell you how much they appreciate your work, that is very gratifying. Also, when the people who work in upper management at the City see you out there working and give you a "Good job, we appreciate what you're doing," that's good enough for me.
Q - If you could turn any job-related task into an Olympic sport, what would it be, and how would it be scored?
A – Well, because I used to work in streets… it has to be setting street signs. You have to dig a hole for the setter of the sign, place two to three bags of concrete, you have to build the sign to the proper specifications. The goal would be to see who could have the most signs set in the day. Earlier this year we had twenty-four or twenty-five signs set in one day.
Q - So, who from our crew do you think would win gold for setting street signs?
A - …I would win. (Either me or Josh.)
Q - What's your favorite aspect of working at the City of Sequim?
A - For me, it would be my coworkers. I really enjoy the people I work with. Secondly, the fact that every day is something different. Working in water, we have our daily route but beyond that there is always something different going on.
Q - What about your temperament do you think draws you to this style of work?
A - I'm a people person. I love being around and meeting new people. It’s all about customer service and I've always liked taking care of other people. For me, it's knowing that my job is to be detail oriented to deliver safe water.
Q - How would you define good customer service, City of Sequim-style?
A - Taking residents' concerns seriously and fixing whatever needs to be fixed with a smile on your face. Just knowing we are taking care of the citizens who live here.