PAdre Profile: Dan Stevenson
Dan Stevenson is a Systems Operator, and is part of the team responsible for monitoring the millions of gallons of water that flows through Padre Dam’s pipelines and is stored in reservoir tanks. Systems Operators are not only responsible for ensuring that this water is there when you need it, but that it is safe to drink. A Systems Operator must be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Because of this, they take turns working long shifts, day and night to ensure that someone is always monitoring the system.
“It takes a lot of effort to get water delivered to someone’s house,” Dan said. “There are people following and monitoring the water from the moment it enters our system to the moment it reaches your front door.”
Several Systems Operators are out in the field every day while another is stationed at the District’s SCADA room. SCADA stands for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, and is the system that monitors Padre Dam’s infrastructure throughout its 73 square mile service area. The SCADA system continuously relays information to the operator regarding water storage levels, chlorine content and pumps station operations. From this room, Operators have a comprehensive system overview from which to manage the distribution system.
Dan’s favorite part of his job is the variety of activities he performs. While he might be stationed in the SCADA room one week, he knows it’s not long until he will be out in the field checking meters, testing water and performing reservoir inspections.
Dan’s responsibilities include ensuring that all of the water in Padre Dam’s system is properly disinfected. Very specific levels of chlorine must be maintained in drinking water to keep it safe to drink. Chlorine dissipates over time, so water must be monitored to ensure that proper chlorine levels are maintained. Monitoring over 393 miles of distribution system pipeline is a big job, but automated chlorine monitors that transmit data back to the District’s SCADA system help provide guidance. Additionally, Systems Operators test water at connection points and pump stations in the system daily. If chlorine levels are off, Dan calculates the amount of chlorine necessary to add to the water to keep it safe.
Dan helps to ensure that the correct amount of water is in the distribution system. The Systems Operators work hard to cycle the water in and out of the reservoirs to ensure that there is always an adequate amount of fresh or new water coming into the system and to your homes. Padre Dam maintains an adequate amount of water in the system to meet potential fire flow demands and provide some backup storage in case of an emergency. However, water needs to remain relatively fresh in order to stay safe to drink. Dan’s team monitors water levels closely and predicts water usage based on elements like the time of day, temperature and rainfall. They use this data to order water from the San Diego County Water Authority three times a day.
In addition to monitoring water as it flows through pipes, Dan also helps to perform inspections of the District’s 16 pump stations. Reservoirs also undergo physical inspections weekly, ensuring that the condition of the reservoir is up to rigorous drinking water storage standards.
“It’s difficult to explain just how much water we manage.” Dan said. “Many people know the Grossmont Reservoir off the 125 freeway, the big brown one with the clouds. That reservoir is only one of the 29 we have in our system, and it only holds about 2.5 million gallons of water, we have a few 18 million gallon tanks out there as well.”
Dan started at Padre Dam 13 years ago as a Utility Worker and became interested in water distribution, quality and delivery. He maintains several state certifications that ensure that he is qualified for the high level of responsibility that his job comes with.
Dan is a San Diego native and when he’s not at work he enjoys spending time with his wife, his six year old son and two year old daughter. They love spending time at the ocean boating, fishing, surfing and camping.