Water is life

Water is the lifeblood of California and without safe and reliable water, no community and no sector of the economy – from high tech to manufacturing to agriculture – can thrive or expand.

Thanks to technological advances by highly skilled and trained water professionals and the dedication of thousands of industry professionals in the state, California drinking water and treated wastewater meets some of the most stringent water quality standards in the nation.

In California -- and here in Roseville, too -- our water and wastewater professionals work 24/7 to plan for the future, maintain and upgrade their systems and improve the safety and resiliency of local water supplies for their communities.

Meet some of our utility workers and what they do every day

Coby G

Meet Coby Gillespie, Office Assistant

Too bad every office doesn’t have a Coby Gillespie, a big-hearted, big personality type that can also delve into details, find the most efficient way, and set standards for others to emulate. Gillespie is an office assistant for Environmental Utilities -- and no, you can’t poach him.

Although, that’s what Roseville’s water utility did. Gillespie started at the Roseville Housing Authority, which administers the federally funded Housing Choice Voucher Program. But for Gillespie, housing was an all too familiar topic. He lived a childhood in San Jose that included that struggle, and even though he had walked in the same shoes of his clients, helping people secure all-too-scarce affordable housing was a job with some baggage.

His job entails supporting internal and external crews by creating the service orders that sets the day’s agenda. He also administers the water hydrant permit program. The program leases portable hydrant meter backflow devices to construction sites.

He maintains the hydrant permit data base — collecting fees and deposits, and generating invoices for the monthly rentals. Gillespie also works with the City’s finance department.

Gillespie thinks of himself as a people person ready to help in anyway, and because he is a firm believer in the adage that a department is only as strong as its weakest link, he works extensively with all staff in the utility.

The father of four daughters, Gillespie is a busy community member, a former high school football coach and this year, he’s officiating games. He enjoyed participating in the opening of another water well that operates via Roseville’s groundwater program, a system that captures flood control releases from Folsom Reservoir and banks it locally in an aquifer.

Coby has even greater aspirations with the City of Roseville. In Coby's eyes, the City gives everybody a shot, by providing the education resources – both in-person and online – to learn more. Employees can acquire skills in everything from leadership to Excel.

His advice to anyone interested in working for the City? Get your feet in the door, even if it is a temporary position. Show who you are as a person and work hard. You will get noticed.

Brett with water distribution

Meet Brett Coleman, Water Distribution Worker

Brett Coleman is an outdoorsy, hands-on type. And hands-on is exactly what he’s been doing for the City of Roseville for 12 years. This father of three is a crew member of the of our water utility, where he is in Preventative Maintenance, checking and rechecking fire hydrants, valves, blow offs, and other essential equipment to make sure they are working and functioning. He gives it his all each day, and says each day, he’s grateful for the opportunity to work for the many customers that call Roseville home or a place where they do business

It’s the culture at work to be the best that he loves. He was hired in his early 20s because he’s mechanical and had experience installing sewer lines and infrastructure from his previous jobs working construction. He definitely had the background to get his foot in the door, and started out working street maintenance. At the time, Brett didn’t know that he would have so much opportunity to learn, train, get certified again and again, and — most importantly — get promoted and secure a future. And, he didn’t know his coworkers collectively would have the work ethic and drive he so admires and emulates each day.

Not only does Brett work for Roseville residents, he is also a dad that loves to hunt and fish with the family and is partial to community involvement that focuses on the kids. He volunteers at the Big Trucks Summer event at the Roseville Utility Exploration Center each year, and never tires of the cheerful children pretending to drive the City’s garbage and fire trucks and really honking the horns.

Brett’s advice to others who are starting out with the City is to have a deep conviction for what you do, work hard, and continue to do your best each day. In other words, as Brett’s supervisors would say, wake up each day and be a Brett.

Nelson with water distribution

Meet Nelson Santos, Water Distribution Worker

Nelson Santos has been a water distribution worker for 13 years. Yet, he is still in awe of the massive, behind-the-scenes effort it takes to make turning a faucet on and enjoying clean running water such a routine event. He finds the potable and recycled water delivery process fascinating, and the opportunity to learn more about it on the job, rewarding.

After a short career out of high school working maintenance for a school district, Santos, a young dad with a growing family, needed a job that provided growth and benefits. He found it at Environmental Utilities, working among a crew that maintains the underground water mains, installs service lines to meters of new homes and businesses, conducts maintenance and handles repairs, especially emergency ones.

Santos takes pride in the City’s 24/7 response to service calls, even if it means on-call duty for him one week a month. If a water main breaks or a car hits a hydrant in the middle of the night, Nelson likes to say, residents will still be able to brush their teeth in the morning. Even in the middle of the night, according to Santos, Roseville neighbors are appreciative of their efforts, often offering lemonade or coffee, and are genuinely kind.

After work, Santos goes to his other job, escorting his kids to their sports activities. When he has time, Santos rides dirt bikes, and likes to go to the coast and be with family. He likes working for a company that goes beyond providing the minimum requirements for clean, safe water, and likes the security of working for the City. You won’t make a million dollars, he says, but there is always room to grow.

Michelle at Corp Yard

Meet Michelle Sullivan, Water Conservation Worker

Michelle Sullivan is a landscape business owner turned Roseville Environmental Utilities water conservation worker. As a former landscaper, Michelle wishes she knew then what she knows now about efficient water choices. Now that she is a water efficiency expert for other businesses, she can let her real passions fly — advocate for efficient water use and help residents lower their consumption —closing the public knowledge gap with customers about best practices on using water as wisely as possible.

Starting a water conservation career at the height of the last drought has had a lingering impact on Michelle’s personal and professional life. She challenges her own water usage as diligently as she does her neighbors, and is always in search of the next new water saving device or technique. She understands that people are not inherently wasteful, and she simply wants to help.

Michelle believes in investigating high water usage for leaks rather than assuming the customer is a high-water user, and trusts that with education and water-saving tools, everyone can be a water saver. Her greatest source of pride comes from making community connections, building trust, and sharing water conservation techniques.

Always happiest in the field, Michelle helps residents identify leaks to prevent property damage, and walks residents and businesses through the process of inspection and conservation methods. If they become water efficient believers too and realize every drop counts, then Michelle has had a great day.
Will at treatment plant

Meet Will Rogers, Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator

Will Rogers is a wastewater treatment facility operator and a staunch custodian of our water. And because he likes to say we are drinking the same water that dinosaurs drank when they roamed the earth, he’s taken on a humbling responsibility. Clean water is one of mankind’s most precious resources.

Fortunately for our community, Will has the chops to live up to the challenge of making sure treated water discharge is safe for the environment. The 15-year Environmental Utilities veteran studied chemistry and biology in college, studied in the field, and is a former United States Air Force environmental support specialist. Will is also a life learner. He is there taking the course whenever a new best practice in cost-effective water and wastewater treatment methods is discovered.

Will’s serious purpose doesn’t contradict the simple joys of a job well done. He finds it satisfying to compare the appearance and condition of the water coming into the facility (nasty) with the final results of the treatment process — re-purposed, clean water that protects us from diseases and bacteria that can contaminate the environment. That’s understandably satisfying considering the water we have is all we have, and usage needs are greater than readily available water.

So, Will is a natural fit for his position as a wastewater treatment operator. He has the patience to let Mother Nature’s biological processes work, and has the chemical, and mechanical know-how to insert human intervention. But basically, Will just likes to end his shift knowing his efforts are making the world a better place.

Alex in wastewater collections

Meet Alex Bermudez, Wastewater Collections Worker

Alex Bermudez has a connection to Roseville Utilities that involves more than just being the place where he works every day. He is not only a wastewater maintenance worker, he is also a grandson of a retired Roseville Electric Utility worker. Bermudez says that like his stint serving his country in the Navy for four years, serving the City of Roseville like his Grandpa has proud moments, too.

The teamwork, competitiveness and camaraderie he enjoyed in the service — and the discipline — prepared him well for his new job in wastewater and transitioning from the service he says was easy. On the job, Bermudez says the culture is like the military in the sense that as a unit, everybody knows everything is important, so, everyone learns and does everything so as to not miss a beat. Now that’s teamwork.

Each day Bermudez arrives at work, gets his assignment for the day, and goes out into the field with his crew to serve where needed. They will go manhole to manhole, clean the lines, and complete routine maintenance, all tasks to prevent emergencies, but they still can happen. If there is a plug in the main causing a sewer spill, Bermudez explains, that can lead to an environmental health issue.

Construction is most often the culprit for accidents, so Bermudez and his crew members are on call 24/7 just in case. Their equipment, particularly the vactor truck with its water tank and giant vacuum hose, is big and imposing, and gets the job done. Bermudez says the kids love it when they get to see the truck, especially at Big Trucks Summer, a special annual event at the Roseville Utility Exploration Center, when lots of City trucks are on display, and the kids get to pretend they are responders.

Bermudez is now engaged to be married and turning toward the future. He says the City has mechanisms for advancement and helps create opportunities for employees to get there. He is determined to take advantage of the chance to acquire certificates and follow his strategy for moving up the ladder: keep your head down, be the best, prove yourself and be ready to work.

Heinz in prevenative maintenance

Meet Heinz Hamann, Predictive Maintenance Technician

Heinz Hamann is into wellness. He takes care of himself and loves to garden, hunt and fish. But nothing concerns him more than the wellness of our massive water and wastewater utility infrastructure that supports a growing Roseville. Heinz helps to maintain the equipment at our water and wastewater treatment plants, municipal water wells, water distribution pump stations, recycled water pump stations, and wastewater lift stations all over the city.

As a Predictive Maintenance Technician for Roseville’s Environmental Utilities department, Heinz analyzes the current health of machinery by utilizing vibration, infrared, ultrasonic, and oil analysis technologies. His goal is to ensure the best performance possible of equipment that is critical to ensuring Roseville’s utility infrastructure does what it needs to provide reliable utility services at the lowest possible cost.

Using these predictive technologies, Heinz can detect equipment defects at a very early stage. The magnitude of these defects is assessed and monitored, allowing for procurement of resources needed for repair and scheduling of equipment downtime. This proactive maintenance approach addresses equipment problems while they are small, which reduces costs and helps to prevent unexpected breakdowns.

Heinz has an AA Degree in Math and Science, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management. Having worked in the industrial and municipal water and wastewater fields since 1986, Heinz says that there is always something to learn, and always something new. That’s what makes it interesting.

Mr. Hamann’s enthusiasm for his craft is contagious. He is often invited to speak at industry events, and because of the City’s commitment to predictive maintenance, Roseville is a leader in the field.

For Heinz, retirement is in the not too distant future, but he doesn’t give it much thought. He loves the work and loves the culture at Environmental Utilities. His advice to young adults just starting jobs with the City is to always do more than just show up for work every day, and to take full advantage of the training and information that the City has to offer. Life is short he says, so make the most of it!
Dave at Barton Road

Meet Dave Eulberg, Plant & Equipment Mechanic

Since he was a kid, Roseville Environmental Utilities plant and equipment mechanic Dave Eulberg has always liked to tinker. And, as he grew older, he gravitated toward welding and industrial fabrication while working in machine shops. Now, Dave is tinkering with the pumps and machinery at Environmental Utilities to guarantee clean and clear water is splashing out of those Roseville faucets.

Each day, Dave looks forward to the camaraderie he enjoys with his “family” at work as he monitors the pumps, fixes and repairs the gear boxes, and when necessary, takes a piece of steel and retrofits it to just the right specs (better than factory made!) to keep the plant humming. He takes pride knowing that his hard work is ensuring the water coming from Folsom Lake and journeying through the Barton Road Water Treatment Plant, becomes clean water for the citizens of Roseville.

The Roseville community is where Dave is raising his young family, and instilling the same discipline and caring he practices at work. At Environmental Utilities, he lives by the simple virtues of hard work, being clean and tidy, properly storing tools, helping others and exercising safe practices. At home, those qualities translate into a structured environment, where his children do their homework before play, and learning everyday is the expectation.

Dave is also constantly improving his own skills through education. He finds time to take electrical theory and computer building classes at Sierra College, and never shies away from acquiring job-related certificates for professional development. Dave will say he’s a process guy, and a safety-first guy, who sets out to do a good job at every task he’s preforming. And at end of each work day, he hustles home to check his two daughters’ homework before announcing it’s time for play.

Melissa in the lab

Meet Melissa Parks, Laboratory Technician

Roseville is the kind of place where residents know their neighbors, and their neighbor may be a Roseville Environmental Utilities employee. That is certainly the case for those who live on the same block as Melissa Park, a laboratory technician for the wastewater utility.

She is a third generation water treatment expert, often talking shop with her grandfather and father when she was just a young girl growing up in Roseville, and even standing side by side with her dad at work may years later.

Now she is measuring microorganisms in wastewater discharged into Dry Creek (bugs are good.) She also measures PH levels and conducts other tests to ensure a clean water environment. Her job requires a lot of environmental science — perfect for someone who rallied her Roseville neighbors to recycle when she was in the sixth grade, and in junior high, interviewed Kim Spear on wastewater, the same Kim Spear who was Melissa’s boss until Kim retired several years ago.

Melissa wants everyone to know that the water treatment facility where she works is providing clean water to our creeks, just what is needed to keep them flowing fresh, especially in the stagnating summer.

Melissa is a natural communicator, an educator and the enforcer when it comes to insisting on good habits for the betterment of the environment. She says small changes make a big impact, so start by taking the store stickers off your apples. They clog the equipment at the water treatment facility. Who knew?