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  • Wastewater Department recognizes lab workers efforts

    The Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department recently recognized 33 lab employees from its Compliance and Regulatory Affairs Office (CRAO) as part of National Environmental Laboratory Professionals Week, April 23-30.

    ROMPEvery department has its unsung heroes, and for RWRD, this group is one of many. Because of the nature and complexity of their profession, these individuals have a work schedule that spans beyond the typical banker hours of most employees. 

    CRAO’s lab professionals are the first line of defense in protecting our community from harmful illnesses and diseases. Their efforts ensure that our treated water complies with federal and state regulations. Last year alone, the group analyzed over 58,000 samples in CRAO’s full-service laboratory facilities. 

    “Wastewater treatment is the single most important technological advancement of the 20th century,” said Jack Van Riper, Wastewater Chemist Specialist in the Whole Effluent Toxicity Testing (WETT) lab.

    Spanning from a variety of science backgrounds, the laboratory professionals in CRAO come together with a commitment to protect the health of the community and to promote sustainability. Though many of them work toward the same end-goal, they each have unique responsibilities.

    For example, several employees perform various types of analysis on effluent in the microbiology unit, measuring different substance levels and verifying water quality. In the WETT lab, lab chemists examine the egg specimens of a variety of fish bred in effluent, looking to see if the quality of our reclaimed water can successfully sustain wildlife. 

    The enthusiasm shared by many of the lab chemists at the RWRD Water Campus is contagious and only outdone by their commitment to one another. 

    “You can have the most interesting work in the world but if you don’t like the people you work with, then it’s not going to mean very much,” said Tim Gentry, Water Chemist in the (WETT) lab, as he stood in front of the dozens of fish he is responsible for breeding. 

    While our lab professionals take their work seriously, they also make time to establish friendships with peers.

    The camaraderie among this group is evident from the moment you step foot in the laboratory break room greeted by a bulletin board collage of smiling family and vacation pictures titled “CRAO Family.” In addition, the group routinely concludes its monthly safety meetings with a time for “CRAO Family Slides” where individuals can submit pictures of their personal lives including their children, dogs, and family trips to share with their co-workers. 

    The lab professionals at CRAO are constantly striving to bring out the very best in each other, ensuring high quality work from everyone involved and serving our community – one specimen at a time.
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