What exactly do you do?
“My work involves operating, monitoring and trouble-shooting the wastewater treatment plant and all the lift stations here in Pierre. All of us here at the plant are responsible for the plant operations, compliance with state and federal operating regulations, and collection systems. We all are responsible for certain areas of the plant.”
What are your responsibilities?
“The areas of the plant that I’m responsible for are the grit removal and ultraviolet (UV) disinfection. Grit is the leftover settleables that cannot be processed further, like sand, coffee grounds and corn. Grit settles out and is pumped into a wagon that must be taken out to the landfill, which I do once a week. I monitor this equipment and do maintenance when needed.
The UV disinfection building is also my responsibility. UV disinfection is the final piece of our clean water — effluent — discharge process. After everything has been removed and broken down by microorganisms, the water passes through a channel with two big ultraviolet light banks that neutralizes any harmful pathogen before the effluent is discharged into the river. I clean the channel daily to keep moss from growing on the walls or the light banks. Also, I sample the water after it’s been disinfected to make sure we are getting the proper disinfection required by state and federal regulations.”
What is one of the more fun aspects of your job?
“I very much enjoy my job down here at the plant. I love that I am not confined to a desk for eight hours and that I have the chance to work outdoors. There are many challenges that can pop up even on a daily basis, but we have a great group of guys who can work out most problems. Now, when I say a great group of guys, I mean that. I’m the first woman to work at the wastewater plant in about 30 years. I try very hard to pull my weight here.”
What is one of the ‘worst’ aspects of your job?
“As you can imagine, there are a lot of ‘dirty job things’ that need to be done at the wastewater plant. I suppose my least favorite thing to do at the plant are the scheduled large-scale cleanings of our tanks. But with the right protective clothing and a slow and steady pace, you can stay pretty clean. Most of the time on these larger cleaning projects, more hands jump in to help. That’s part of being on a team. I just want to add that, surprisingly, you get used to the smell.”