Applauding lab professionals on Chemistry Week

Applauding lab professionals on Chemistry Week
Posted on 10/19/2022
Senior Chemist Veronica Becerra, Utility Laboratory Sampler Nancy Guzman and Canal Plant Utility Plant Technician Dane Jensen prepare samples to be shipped.

They represent a critical portion of El Paso Water’s essential workforce who strive each day – weekends and holidays included – to ensure El Paso receives the highest quality water possible. For their dedication, EPWater honors employees of the utility’s accredited International Water Quality Laboratory during National Chemistry Week.

The laboratory’s 30 employees take satisfaction in ensuring clean water for EPWater’s customers, as well as their own families.

“These are hard-working people who are very professional and eager to learn,” said Teresa Alcala, Utility Laboratory Services Manager. “They take pride in the service we provide to the community, even though our work takes place behind the scenes.”

Demanding requirements

A small army at EPWater's International Water Quality Laboratory helps ensure El Paso receives the highest quality water possible.No one takes their work more seriously than these trustworthy professionals who know how important the service they provide is to the public, Alcala said.

EPWater is regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which holds utilities across the state accountable for meeting EPA Safe Drinking Water Act  standards for metals, microbiological components and other substances in tap water. The utility makes every effort to meet and even go beyond the criteria. 

EPWater tests hundreds of water samples a month to monitor the quality of water flowing through El Paso’s taps. Last year, lab employees received about 40,000 samples and performed about 340,000 chemical and biological analyses, Quality Control Chemist Miguel Venegas said.

Quality control, assurance

Chemist Sylvia Paz analyzes samples from a wastewater plant.Customers often don’t realize a small army at EPWater works out of public view to make sure they can trust their tap, employees said.

“Our job at the lab is very important because we are testing the water that goes to all the city,” Chemist Rocio Corona said. “There are a lot of people at El Paso Water working every day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure the water is safe.”

“We follow protocols to make sure water quality is in the proper range, and if not then we let the plants know so they can make the necessary adjustments,” said Chemist Brett Clouse, explaining how the lab staff affects water treatment processes.

The lab depends largely on employees’ knowledge and expertise to ensure that monitoring and sampling is performed correctly.

“It’s a big responsibility, and there is a lot of paperwork that goes into this,” Chemist Christopher Espinoza said.

Newer team members, such as Chemist Jacqueline Goodship, praised the teamwork and support found at the lab.

“I like that we help each other,” Goodship said. “You have your tasks, but you’re also working with other people.”

Lab employees acknowledge almost everyone takes water for granted but they want to assure customers they can always trust their tap.

“When we are home, we open the faucet and use water, but we don’t know anything about it,” Corona said. “Because I know all the work we do behind the scenes, I know the quality of our water is good.”

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