As part of OCWA’s monthly series highlighting some of our dedicated employees and the important jobs they perform, this month we’re featuring Cody M. from our Otisco Water Treatment Plant. 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?
I am currently a Water Treatment Plant Operator at the Otisco Water Treatment Plant.
2. What other jobs have you held, both OCWA and non-OCWA position?
Before coming to the Otisco Treatment Plant I was an operator at the Lake Ontario Water Treatment Plant. Prior to working for OCWA, I worked in golf course maintenance and land development.
3. When did you join OCWA, and what brought you here?
I joined OCWA officially in January of 2017 as part of our consolidation with the Onondaga County Water District/Metropolitan Water Board.
4. What does a typical day at work look like for you?
It is difficult to say what a typical day looks like as I work both day and night shifts. Each brings its own set of tasks and unique challenges.
A day shift at the Water Treatment Plant might involve a project in one of the many preventative maintenance programs, from cleaning the contact basins and lagoons to instrumentation cleaning and calibration or property maintenance. I also spend time on our Watershed Protection Program to refine our survey data, and on ArcGIS (with the great help of John C. in IT) to refine our water system mapping. Weekly, tributaries are sampled and progress on our watershed protection interviews of lake residents is tracked. Then at the end of the year, I help compose the results for our annual report. Monthly, I test and ensure the functioning of emergency safety equipment, and monitor/report on Otisco Lake levels compared to historical levels. Additionally, as an operator I periodically assist in the lab or on sample runs when needed.
A night shift is spent mostly operating the treatment plant by monitoring incoming water quality characteristics, ensuring proper chemical dosing and making adjustments as needed. I also manage filter performance while maintaining desired effluent disinfectant residuals and turbidity levels.
Recently due to COVID-19, I’ve spent time working with our water quality staff to digitize our recordkeeping logs to reduce contact between operators. At the plant we have modified our watershed survey techniques. We now have contactless interviews and dye tests in the watershed. This includes offering an online watershed survey linked to the OCWA website in lieu of in-person interviews that was created with the help of Will A. in our IT Department.
5. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is ensuring safe and high quality drinking water for the community.
6. What has been your favorite project at OCWA?
My favorite project so far at OCWA has been working on the Watershed Protection Program. Protecting our source water is our first line of defense and if we can start protection at the source we can reduce the potential risk to our drinking water as well as maintain a healthy environment for the aquatic life in the lake and ensure the water is safe for recreational use.
7. Before working at OCWA, what was the most interesting/unusual job you’ve ever had?
Not very unusual, but I really enjoyed my time working on golf courses before I came to OCWA.
8. What three words best describe you?
Committed, inquisitive, and driven.
9. What is your educational background?
I graduated from high school with a Regents Diploma and graduated from college with a degree in Architecture.
10. Why did you select the career you are in?
Honestly the career found me. After not finding work with my degree and wanting to stay in the area working a job I was passionate about, I decided it was time to focus on a new career. I was currently working for Beaver Meadows Golf Club and had recently been accepted into Rutgers for a Turf Management program when a friend convinced me to take the civil service test for Water Treatment Plant Operator. After interviewing and being offered the job it was one of the most difficult decisions to make to go into a career I knew very little about and leave one I had a pure passion for. However, it has proven to be more interesting and rewarding than I could have ever imagined and the best decision I have ever made.