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Water Professionals Appreciation Week — October 5–13

Bringing High Quality Water, Straight to the Tap

  • Date: -  

 Water Professionals Week - I Love My Career

California’s third annual Water Professionals Appreciation Week highlights the important role of water industry professionals and local public water agencies in ensuring safe and reliable water, wastewater, and recycled water.

EID has just over 200 professionals that take pride in doing this imperative work! We featured two of these pros below. Read about what brought them into the water industry and what fuels their passion.

EID Water Pros — Bringing High Quality Water, Straight to the Tap

 Renee Barragan, Utility Billing Supervisor

Renee Barragan EID Utility Billing Supervisor

What is your role and field of work at EID?

I am EID’s Utility Billing Supervisor. I oversee a staff of seven who handle walk-in customers and front desk reception. My team also handles the call center for billing and all dispatch related calls and questions. In addition to assisting customers, my group prepares and generates all utility bills and billing notices, maintains customer records and accounts, and generates service requests and work orders for construction and meter services, among a variety of other duties.

What / who inspired you to work in the water industry?

My dad, he worked for EID when I was a child, held positions at Sacramento Suburban Water District, and was the general manager at the Grizzly Flats Community Services District before he retired. Prior to working at EID I was in the banking industry where I enjoyed helping members of my community. When EID had an opening in Customer Service, I knew it would be a good fit for me and a way to follow in my father’s footsteps. Also, my husband works in the wastewater industry so it’s really become a family affair!

What fuels your passion for your work?

The people that I get to work with at EID. I have never had the pleasure of working with such a diverse, intelligent, hardworking, and dedicated group of people. The employees here truly care about what they do and the effect their work has on our community.

What is the biggest misperception about working in the water industry?

Understanding just how vital the work that we do is. There are underdeveloped nations and communities that do not have safe clean drinking water and sanitary sewer services. There are people today that are sick and dying because they do not have the infrastructure and technology that we have that enables us have clean water at the touch of a faucet and the ability to flush our waste with ease.

Why should someone join this field?

The opportunities—working in the water field will give someone the skills and abilities to work anywhere. Just about every community, no matter where you go, has water and/or wastewater facilities. The work we do is essential to every community big or small. It will enable someone to work anywhere and advance as high as they want to go, from entry level to senior management.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

The fact that I can serve the community in which I live is very rewarding. I was born and raised in El Dorado County. As a lifelong resident, I feel proud that I am part of an organization that provides these essential and important services to my friends and neighbors.


 Kurt Mikkola, Water Operations and Maintenance Supervisor

Kurt Mikkola EID Water Operations Maintenance Supervisor

What is your role and field of work at EID?

Currently, I am one of two Operations and Maintenance supervisors in the drinking water division. Our role is to supervise a talented group of state-certified water treatment plant operators, distribution operators, and plant mechanics. We oversee production and distribution of drinking water through various water treatment plants to customers’ homes, businesses, and schools. As a supervisor, we help facilitate what staff needs to safely maintain and repair all the components related to water treatment and delivery.

What / who inspired you to work in the water industry?

My inspiration to work in this field came from family and the close contact I had with water growing up. We lived on a ranch and irrigated pastures with water from EID that we pumped from EID’s ditch system. We filled a series of reservoirs and ponds that were located on the property to irrigate different fields. I also worked in a nursery for many years that counted on water for its plants. Through these life experiences I realized the importance of water to keep people and plants thriving. My work as a kid also inspired a big dream of someday developing and building a pipeline from the Continental Divide in Yellowstone to California. But that went on hold and instead I came to work for EID.

What fuels your passion for your work?

Several things fuel my passion for my work. The passion I get from working in general comes from my upbringing as it was instilled in me long ago that if you like what you are doing it will never be work. So I chose to make my work time enjoyable. A big contributor to my passion is the knowledge that people really need safe and reliable drinking water, I see the value in the work that we do. I truly get a deep sense of satisfaction in helping other people grow in this field. I strive to do whatever I can to help them improve to make their work/career enjoyable.  

What is the biggest misperception about working in the water industry?

I believe many people think that it’s very easy work, although that really isn’t true. That misconception may be a part of a false impression that because someone is enjoying their work that it is easy. There are so many different things that one must keep in mind to assure safe drinking water makes its way from the High Sierra mountains all the way to the customer’s tap. This is complex work that has many processes. We rely on equipment and infrastructure that is mostly decades old, a failure in any part of the system can impinge upon the water making it to the customers’ taps. We don’t take this lightly as customers have a service expectation that not only will the water come out when they turn on the faucet, but that the water is safe for them and their families. Most people don’t realize the multiple processes that are required to take untreated raw water of varying quality, treat it to meet all state standards and then deliver that high quality drinking water to the tap. It’s complicated and the responsibility can be overwhelming at times. There are many obstacles we are faced with 24/7, 365 days a year. People don’t just stop needing water.

Why should someone join this field?

It is a very satisfying industry for both career-minded people and for those that want to make a difference in their community, or the world. Water is vital and knowing how to treat and deliver it is a great accomplishment. There is so much going on in the drinking water industry and the opportunities are nearly endless. Just considering what we have at EID, the career fields are wide open. There are many very interesting career paths you can take here including water treatment and distribution, mechanical or electrical professionals, engineers, samplers and lab work, meter technicians, construction and repairs, environmental, inspectors, clerical, and so many others.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

One of the most rewarding aspects of my work is that I am a proud member of a very successful company that operates like a strong family. Collectively, we always do our best to continually serve our community, which I have been a part of most of my life. I am always humbled by the value and sense of importance that EID has to this county and I truly enjoy seeing the results from our hard work and the impact we have on the county’s success. Another important aspect that is rewarding is the opportunity to help others improve their careers. I’m happy to be a part in someone’s life that led them to be successful and happy in their career.

Water Professionals Week - Choose A Career in the Water Industry and Make a Difference in Your Community