DPU Employees Earn ‘Operator of the Year’ Awards

From left, David Gomez, GWS Shop Supervisor and newly-elected NMWWA President; Jennifer Baca, Senior Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator; Jeff Romero, GWS Pipefitter and Chris Lopez, Senior Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator. Courtesy/DPU

DPU News:

Three Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities (DPU) employees garnered “Outstanding Operator of the Year” awards from the New Mexico Water and Wastewater Association (NMWWA): 

  • Pipefitter Jeff Romero of the Gas, Water, Sewer (GWS) Division earned “Water Distribution System Operator of the Year”
  • Senior Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Jennifer Baca earned “Wastewater Operator of the Year” in the Laboratory Technician category
  • Senior Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Chris Lopez earned “Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator of the Year”

GWS Shop Supervisor and newly-elected NMWWA President David Gomez presented the award plaques to his fellow DPU associates at the Jan. 30 awards banquet in Las Cruces, citing their outstanding performance and dedication.   

The NMWAA is a non-profit scientific and educational organization which promotes proper design, construction, operation, performance evaluation, and management of water and wastewater utilities.

Romero has more than 15 years experience on Los Alamos’ distribution and collection systems for natural gas, water and wastewater, and holds a class 4 (highest level) water operator license.  

He oversees maintenance and construction projects on the gas, water and wastewater systems, answers trouble calls from customers, and in general takes great personal pride in ensuring that DPU customers receive reliable, quality utilities service.

Baca began her career at the Los Alamos Wastewater Treatment Plant in 2005 as a temporary laborer. She steadily worked her way up through the ranks and is now a class 4 wastewater operator. 

Early in her career she showed a marked aptitude for laboratory work. Her careful, meticulous work together with her organization skills and natural abilities has made her a great success in the laboratory, performing the operational and compliance testing required by the county’s discharge permits.

Lopez transferred to the Los Alamos Wastewater Treatment Plant in 2002 from the City of Santa Fe. As the most experienced member of the Senior Operator team at the plant, he is the “go to” guy for answers to operational problems encountered by other operators. 

Keeping a close eye on the plant performance, Lopez makes sure that process changes are implemented to keep the plant operating at its optimum capabilities, all the while keeping up with daily equipment preventive maintenance and repair tasks.

Gomez was promoted to GWS Shop Supervisor in 2012 after 10 years of outstanding service in the GWS Division. As NMWWA President, he leads the state-wide membership and promotes operational excellence in New Mexico’s water and wastewater utilities.

“I am not surprised that the NMWWA recognized our employees,” Utilities Manager John Arrowsmith said. “Not only do they benefit our State by providing quality drinking water and releasing quality wastewater, but their exceptional work-ethic and professionalism contribute greatly to DPU’s own goal of performance excellence. I am proud to have them on the team.”

Learn more about NMWWA at www.nmwwa.org. Visit DPU’s Water and Wastewater websites at http://www.losalamosnm.us/utilities/Pages/Water.aspx  and http://www.losalamosnm.us/utilities/Pages/Wastewater.aspx.


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