Veterans in Water: Las Virgenes Municipal Water District Shares Three Stories

Steve Jackson, Chief Water Treatment Plant Operator
Shawn Triplett, Facilities Maintenance Supervisor
Jon Meredith, Senior Maintenance Mechanic

 

Steve Jackson, Chief Water Treatment Plant Operator

What is your role?

I’m the Chief Water Treatment Plant Operator for Las Virgenes Municipal Water District’s (LVMWD) Westlake Filtration Plant. I have a Water Treatment 4 certification with the state, have been with Las Virgenes for 25 years and my primary role is to operate the Filtration plant to deliver safe drinking water to our customers.

What / who inspired you to work in water?

The challenge of operating all of the complex systems that are needed to produce safe drinking is what motivated me enter this career.

What fuels your passion for your work?

Operating a water treatment plant requires a lot of attention to detail, commitment and problem solving to insure the water is always safe. So while I wouldn’t refer to it as a passion it is definitely physical and mental challenge that I like.

What is the biggest misperception about working in water?

I believe the biggest misperception the average person has about the water industry is that everything happens automatically without much human input.  Properly designed and engineered water facilities need skilled operators to insure required standards are always met.

Why should veterans join this field?

Many of the attributes that veterans have from their service (Discipline, leadership and commitment) are valued in the water industry and can lead to long successful careers.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

The biggest reward I get from my work is that all of my effort directly contributes to the goal of producing safe drinking water. 

Shawn Triplett, Facilities Maintenance Supervisor

What is your role? 

I’m the Facilities Maintenance Supervisor, and I’ve worked here at Las Virgenes for 15 years. My job is to coordinate and supervise the mechanical maintenance and repair work of the District’s wastewater, composting, and filter plants as well as pump stations, lift stations, buildings, structures, grounds, and the vehicle fleet. I’m also responsible for the District’s safety compliance and health policies. I have my Distribution Operator 3 and Mechanical Technologist 3 certifications.

What / who inspired you to work in water?

I started as a plumber and was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with the District and it fell into place from there. I previously served in the United States Marine Corps from 1992 to 1998.

What fuels your passion for your work?

My passion is fueled by making a difference with the services we provide and helping with environmental stewardship in many different aspects, such as water and energy conservation and planning for the future.

What is the biggest misperception about working in water?

That it is a difficult trade to pursue. There are an array of classes, trainings, and certifications offered by organizations like the CWEA and AWWA that provide support to those looking to pursue a career in water.

Why should veterans join this field?

I believe veterans should join this field because it would be an easy transition based on the structure of a public agency.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

Continually providing safe and reliable drinking water to the public with minimal interruptions.

Jon Meredith, Senior Maintenance Mechanic

I am a Senior Maintenance Mechanic and I’ve served the public with LVMWD for 29 years. My job is to oversee the mechanical maintenance work performed throughout the District’s various operations, coordinate work and work schedules for other maintenance staff, and maintain and repair pumps and other large equipment such as screens, centrifuges, clarifiers, etc. I currently hold CWEA Mechanical Technician Grade 3 certification.

What / who inspired you to work in water?

Prior to this, I was working in oil purification. I also previously worked as a Nuclear Steam Plant Operator on the USS Flasher while serving in the Navy for 6 years. This opportunity with LVMWD arose and I realized the pay and benefits were better than any other sector I worked in. The decision was a no-brainer.

What fuels your passion for your work?

I enjoy getting dirty and working with my hands. After serving my country, I wanted to continue working in a stable, hands-on career.

What is the biggest misperception about working in water?

That it is clean work.

Why should veterans join this field?

The work experience carries over in many ways from the service. Most mechanical, electrical, and electronics technicians can step right in, with little training (except work specific training for certain equipment).

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

The most rewarding aspect of the work for me is troubleshooting and repairing equipment with minimal downtime , as well as keeping facilities online during emergencies, such as the Woolsey Fire that tore through the area last fall. As a public employee, I double as a disaster service worker, and it is critical that our facilities are functioning during emergencies such as wildfires.


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