Thanks to the behind-the-scenes efforts of water and wastewater operators across the country, clean, safe water continued flowing – even amid a global pandemic. Garver launched the Behind-the-Scenes Operators Initiative to give an inside look at what it takes to supply our communities with reliable water services.
Serving Central Arkansas through COVID-19
Solving puzzles all day sounds like an interesting job for anyone who likes challenges, and that’s exactly what George does every day as an operator. Running a distribution system that serves central Arkansas requires some unique critical thinking to keep a complex system running. That’s what called George to his role as an operator. “There are always new problems to overcome, and it can be exciting and fun.”
He most enjoys working with his coworkers to provide high quality water to the people of central Arkansas. George holds the license of grade four operator, which is one of the highest licensing grades for operators. And not only does George run all the production facilities, but he also does cross training for staff in the Water Quality Department.
Like most utilities, they’ve noticed changes in flows and staffing because of the pandemic. Flows from the community have increased while downtown business districts have decreased due to people staying home. But that hasn’t changed how George and his team run the system or their quality of service.
There were, however, changes to staffing. Central Arkansas Water put COVID measures into place that required masks 24/7 and operators to be in separate areas, not allowing staff to congregate in one location. These changes required their meetings to go digital, because despite the pandemic, George’s team still had to be able to communicate changes from one shift to another.
In addition to staffing challenges during COVID, George’s team faced a flood in their pump house that required switching equipment around to get the water out of the pump house and keep water flowing through the system. Their Ozark plant had to be taken down several times to do improvements and redesign. Thankfully, they had two plants, which meant one could always stay online when the other was down for repairs, keeping water flowing to the community.
George and his team work hard to keep their plants running safely and efficiently. Their dedication keeps central Arkansas communities provided with diligent service every day. As George says, “It takes a lot of people to have water at your sink every day. It takes incredible teamwork and innovative processes. From biologists to operators, they all have a role that’s vital to the quality and operability of our system.”