Sanitation Districts’ Wastewater Heroes

Sanitation Districts’ Wastewater Heroes: LA Wrecking Crew
screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-11-34-54-amThe Sanitation Districts’ LA Wrecking Crew recently showed their skills in the Operations Challenge demonstration at the Joint Administration Office. The demonstration simulated how the Districts’ operation and maintenance staff respond to emergencies such as piping failures or flooding. The event revealed the skill, athleticism and determination needed to win at both the state and national levels.


The Sanitation Districts’ Wrecking Crew has won 6 national titles and placed in the top 2 a total of 13 times over the last 24 years. The event has grown over the years with each participating State sending their best to compete. Celebrating its 28th year, the Operations Challenge has expanded from an original 22-team event to its current two-division format with more than 40 teams (44 in 2015).


The event started in 1988 as a way to bring professionals together from varying disciplines in an interactive forum. The Challenge is an opportunity to “professionalize” the role of the unsung water professional heroes who protect our valuable water assets 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The interaction is key, each team consists of four members who collaborate on five events (Process, Laboratory, Collection Systems, Pump Maintenance, and Safety) that require different skills and highlight the complexity of the profession. Teamwork serves as their key to success both within the competition and on the job.


CWEA interviewed the LA Wrecking Crew team to find out what motivates them and what makes them successful. Join us in cheering on the LA Wrecking Crew as they compete in the upcoming WEFTEC competition in New Orleans, LA.


Who is the LA Wrecking Crew?
The LA Wrecking Crew consists of five members: Will Hoenig, Carlos Vasquez, Nick Janicke, Jessey Cordero, and Edwin Ochoa. While the LA Wrecking Crew has been competing in operations challenge for over twenty years, the upcoming national convention will be the first time our current crew has competed together.


What motivates your team to be a part of this competition? 
Our team enjoys being a part of this competition because it gives us an opportunity to further develop our knowledge and skill set as it relates to operations while being an active and integral part of the industry.  On a more personal level, we take tremendous pride in the work we do as operators and the service we provide to our community.  This competition is an opportunity to represent our company in a positive light and reinforce confidence in our community that they have skilled and professional operators safely and appropriately taking care of the community’s wastewater needs.


What makes your team successful?
Our team is successful because we all actively contribute new ideas, motivate each other, and consistently demonstrate enthusiastic and positive attitude while training for operations challenge.  We understand and respect that this team is bigger than any one individual member, and proactively recognize our strengths and readily address our weaknesses.  It takes every team member giving a 100% of their effort in order to be successful in operations challenge.
Each team member shows up every day with an enthusiastic attitude and ready to get to work on accomplishing our goals.  We have worked diligently to develop our team chemistry and select members who share the team’s long-term goals.  As a result, the energy level amongst the team members throughout the day is intense and palpable.  We are fortunate to have such dedicated and well-rounded individuals on the team.


What is your ultimate team goal?
One goal as representatives is to continue to help sustain high regard and respect for the hard working members of Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts.  


About the Author

Megan Barillo

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