Friday, March 15, 2013

Meet WoW Member, Rachael!

I’ve worked at the Division of Drinking Water for almost 18 years.  I started out as a temporary employee doing data entry while I was finishing my degree at the University of Utah, and was able to work into an Environmental Scientist position after graduation. 
I’m currently an Environmental Scientist in charge of our radiological, inorganic and organic compliance, as well as our drinking water database.  I used to be in charge of other compliance areas at DDW such as the total coliform rule, lead/copper rule, and consumer confidence report rule. 
Most of what I do involves helping water systems stay in compliance with our sampling requirements.  I love to avoid sending water systems a violation letter for failure to sample, but I’m strict about when and where the systems sample.  If a water system does sample and the results are over our maximum contaminant levels then I work with the systems to resolve that issue; whether that is through treatment, blending or finding other sources of drinking water. 

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  I also work with our drinking water database and keep track of my data quality.  It’s fun to have all of our compliance information at my fingertips; there is no end to the questions that can be posed, and answered through data manipulation.  Part of this includes working with EPA to report our data and making sure we are conforming to their requirements.
The most challenging part of my job is prioritizing which projects are the most important.  It’s also quite demanding to balance my duties at DDW while staying current on new issues that affect our public drinking water systems.  Some of these new (and very interesting!) issues include hexavalent chromium, distribution system contaminant accumulation and preparing for the revised total coliform rule.
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It is important to me to be a member of WoW because it allows me to connect and learn from my colleagues in the industry.  I would never be able to stay current on water issues in our area without the chance to communicate and form great working relationships with others outside of DDW.  WoW keeps me informed, connected and involved in what’s going on outside of my office.
I’m actually not a fan of being on or in the water, I rarely water ski or go on rivers and lakes.  But I love to be outside and I’m a huge fan of water as more of a solid.  You can find me skiing practically every weekend in the winter.  My favorite water spot in Utah is anywhere where you find the crystallized form of water on the slopes!
My advice for women coming into the business of water is to explore new topics, find mentors, and forge a path in your career that will allow you to make a difference. 

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