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My River POV: Ramiro Ortiz

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San Antonio River in Karnes County

The “My River POV” series provides readers the opportunity to learn about the unique insight and experiences of the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) staff and their connection to the San Antonio River in hopes of inspiring stewardship of area creeks and rivers.

Ramiro Ortiz

Ramiro Ortiz, Technology Support Specialist

What do you enjoy about working for the River Authority?

I really like the people and the relationships that I have built through my work providing technical support. I assist staff not only at our main buildings in San Antonio, but also at offices in Wilson, Karnes, and Goliad counties, and the number one thing I’ve noticed about people who work at the River Authority is their kindness. Everyone I have gotten to know is here because they believe in the mission and vision and are driven by a greater purpose. In my position, it’s easy to catch a person on the wrong day when they are dealing with technical issues. Even when I do, though, everyone has been incredibly kind and grateful for help. So, it’s hard to have a bad day and makes me realize how lucky I am and how unique it is to work at a place like the River Authority. You don’t find a group of people like this very often.

San Antonio River in Karnes County

San Antonio River in Karnes County

What is a memory from working at the River Authority that stands out to you?

I remember when I first started almost 3 years ago, we went on a trip for new hires to Brackenridge Park. As we were walking along the San Antonio River, one of the former engineers Aarin Teague was talking about how the agency was hoping to transform the river running through that green space by removing invasive plant species and replacing them with native ones and by improving the flood control in that area. Working in a department where you don’t really get to witness the river on a day-to-day basis, that experience gave me a sense of what our team was supporting. We’re not out there dealing with the operations and maintenance side, but we are upstream of the people who do those things. It gave me a sense of gratification to connect those dots. On hard days when we are dealing with one issue after another, it is easy to forget the bigger picture of things, but thinking back to that experience helps. Even now, I love going to Brackenridge Park on the weekends and I think that trip is a major reason why.

Image of body of water and tree

San Antonio River in Brackenridge Park, Bexar County

You mentioned this experience also brought back childhood memories…

Yes. My mom was born and raised in a small, remote village along the Rio Grande River and then moved to Laredo. One thing we would do as kids in the spring and summer is visit her family there. When there was a birthday or a holiday weekend, we would go to this area along the riverbank to explore, swim, and fish. I have a particular memory about this one area where the rock along the river had been carved out and there was this small eddy pool. We would spend hours finding tadpoles and minnows. Getting to have those experiences in my childhood, then not being able to visit for a long time and returning almost a decade later and seeing it littered, dried up, and native plants ripped out really made me sad to see this special place for my family treated in this way. You could see the litter caked into the dirt after years and years of use, and it didn’t look the way I had remembered it. Not only was this spot on the Rio Grande a place of childhood fun, but it was a way of life. Where my mom grew up, a grocery run might last an entire day because of how remote it was. Her family regarded the river as a source of food—catfish, snakes, deer—they would survive off these animals that lived in and around the river.

US border with Mexico

This is why it is so important to have organizations like the River Authority that realize these public places are important and to preserve them for future generations. These places are more than just the trees, the grass, the water, the animals—they are memories. Our teams at the River Authority that take care of these sites along the river that do the day-to-day work of maintaining and taking care of these places, they also help to maintain memories of the people who use these places. Especially for kids that grow up along the river and it becomes part of who they are. It’s so important.

What would you say are your or your team’s proudest accomplishments?

On the more technical side, the way we have improved our processes has been a significant accomplishment, and it’s gratifying to see the work pay off. One of the extensive projects has been in imaging. When we have onboarding for a new employee, we upload a new operating system (what we call an “image”) to the computer. In the past, we had to enter information manually, but now you can automate everything by simply clicking a button. It took lots of technical work and research to get the process going, but it has been paying off. We have now cut the process that used to last an hour in half. I feel fortunate to be working with a team that is proactive and consistently strives to enhance things. I feel very grateful that our leadership is collaborative, and that there is a lot of cohesiveness and transparency—that makes the River Authority a great place to work.

 

A man points to a computer assisting woman.

I really like the people and the relationships that I have built through my work providing technical support.

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