Utilities Maintenance: Jacks of all Trades

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Utilities Maintenance Crew with sludge

Last Updated on January 30, 2024

Welcome to our fourth installment of the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) Utilities series. As we outlined in the introduction to this series, we are sharing what each team within our wastewater utility does, why it is essential, and how it impacts you!

So far, we’ve learned how the San Antonio (River Authority) Operations Team manages the wastewater treatment process, how the Development Team supports new sewer infrastructure, and how the Collections Crew helps maintain the sewer pipelines. In this installment, we will be featuring the Maintenance Team!

What does the Maintenance Team do?

Nearly all maintenance of equipment, grounds, buildings, and wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is performed in-house by the Maintenance Team. To cover the maintenance for all areas, the team is split into four smaller groups: field, automotive, WWTP, and facility maintenance. Like many of the Utilities teams covered in this series, the Maintenance Team is on call 24/7. This is necessary, as they support all emergencies that might occur.

The team introduces new microorganisms into the primary treatment via a tanker truck.

Being on this team requires a broad skill set; you could even say the crew is a jack of all trades. Even with four smaller, specialized teams, the entire team strives to be diverse and nimble by cross-training to learn all the maintenance functions. This is done in a couple of different ways, including on-the-job training and working towards required specialized licenses, including Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), Journeyman Electrician License (i.e., electricians apprentices license), Wastewater Treatment License, and Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) licenses.

Maintenance staff servicing a blower

Maintenance Team staff service a blower at the Martinez II Wastewater Treatment Plant in Converse, Texas.

While maintenance can mean fixing something that breaks, it more regularly refers to preventing equipment failure. The team regularly greases and oils components, checks amps and voltages, maintains annual service logs, performs oil changes on vehicles or a gearbox, and much more. For vehicles, the crews maintain everything except the engine. This includes assisting in changing and rotating tires, oil changes, car washes, and even purchasing, registering, or disposing of surplus fleet vehicles across the agency.

Additionally, the Maintenance Team is responsible for a regular cycle of landscaping for all properties under the Utilities purview: WWTPs, administrative buildings, outfalls (where eater is released into the river) and more. They also assist when heavy equipment operation is needed, such as transporting sludge (the byproduct of the wastewater treatment process) to a plant with a sludge press. In special circumstances, wastewater may need to be moved from one WWTP to another in a process known as “pump and haul.”

Students visit wastewater treatment center Students on a River Authority Utilities tour view an outfall.

Phew! How do they keep up with everything, you might ask? The crew uses the same software program as the Collection team: Lucity. Lucity allows the team to stay on a schedule of regular maintenance. This program also allows work orders to be submitted from across the organization. Work orders cover both internal and external requests. For example, an external request can be a callout for a sanitary sewer overflow (SSO), as we learned about in the Collections Crew blog. Examples of internal requests include broken equipment, vehicle maintenance, or even setting up furniture in a room to support a community open house.

Beyond Maintenance

Like our Operations Team and Collections Crew, our Maintenance Team supports the River Authority well beyond routine maintenance emergencies. While the Operations Team is often called when local partners need assistance or would like to seek community assistance funds, they lean on their Maintenance Team colleagues to help install or make repairs for area local entities. The team also participates in career-oriented programs with partners such as the SA WORX Job Shadow program.

All in all, the Maintenance Team supports each team within the Utilities Department and beyond, helping the River Authority and community work towards a safer, cleaner, and more enjoyable San Antonio River. Thank you to this multi-talented team for the vital versatility that keeps the Utilities operations flowing smoothly!

Maintenance Team demonstrating systems to students

The Maintenance Team performs a demonstration for a SA WORX Job Shadow Day.

Coming soon: Look out for the next series, where we will take a deep dive into the work of the Quality Control Team!

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