As part of OCWA’s monthly series highlighting some of our dedicated employees and the important jobs they perform, this month we’re featuring Ken B. from our Water Quality Department. Each month we’re asking a different employee a series of ten questions about his/her background, what he/she does at OCWA and some of the employee’s most interesting work experiences.
1. What is your current position at OCWA?
Water Systems Chemist
2. What other jobs have you held, both OCWA and non-OCWA positions?
I started out in the lab business working for a contract lab. Then I started working in the lab for Onondaga County Drainage and Sanitation (now called the Department of Water and Environment Protection or WEP). I started taking civil service tests, one of them being Water Plant Laboratory Technician. This is how I landed at the Water Authority.
3. When did you join OCWA, and what brought you here?
I started with OCWA in the summer of 2000. As I stated above, I took the test for WPLT, and then moved to the Authority in part because I liked the positive work environment here. I remember at first wondering if I made the right decision career wise, but over time I came to realize that working to ensure our drinking water is safe is where I wanted to be (see below).
4. What does a typical day at work look like for you?
A typical day for me involves getting the lab set up to receive the day’s water quality samples, prepping different bacteria media, etc. There is also quite a bit of quality control that goes on behind the scenes to maintain our state certified lab.
5. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I think the thing I like most about this position is helping customers resolve their water quality issues. Sometimes it just involves being a sympathetic ear, other times it involves interacting with them personally. Mainly people just want to know that their water is safe, so I go out and take a water sample and analyze it for bacteria. Even though we take 80 some water quality samples every week, it’s reassuring to the customer that THEIR water is safe.
6. What has been your favorite project at OCWA?
There’s been a few. Probably my favorite has been the lead and copper sampling program. The program I inherited when I came here was a bit disjointed. I coalesced all the different parts, streamlined it, and I think made it more efficient.
7. Before working at OCWA, what was the most interesting/unusual job you’ve ever had?
Probably the most unusual job I had was during college working the night shift in a factory that made At-a-Glance products. It’s neat to see the products still out there and remember how they were made.
8. What three words best describe you?
Dependable, dedicated and ethical (people need to know that I’m putting out good data; important especially in the context of lab work and the safety of the product that we provide to the customer)
9. What is your educational background?
I have a BS in Biology, a BS in Water Resources and a minor in chemistry from SUNY Oneonta.
10. Why did you select the career you are in?
I think my career chose me. I certainly could never have anticipated being where I am today. I just walked through the doors that were opened to me along the way.