Veterans in Water: John Nolasco, Eastern Municipal Water District

Veterans in Water, Wastewater Life

Name: John Philip A. Nolasco
Title: Water Reclamation Plant Operator
Tenure and certifications held:

  • CA Water Resource Control Board Grade III Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certificate
  • CA Water Resource Control Board Grade D1 Water Distribution
  • CA Water Resource Control Board Grade T2 Water Treatment

Name of agency: Eastern Municipal Water District
Branch/years of service: U.S. Air Force Reserve 7 years

What is your role?

As a Water Reclamation Plant Operator, I inspect treatment plant equipment to make sure they function properly; make process control adjustments by using manual, electronic and computer control systems to ensure we meet our regulations; read gauges, meters, graphs, and lab data; collect samples for quality control test and analysis; and protect public health and the downstream users by diligently meeting our compliance.

What / who inspired you to work in water?

What inspired me to work in the water industry is the attitude of service. Even when I was a young person, I always thought of ways I could serve whether in my community, church, or country. By working in this industry, I am able to make a direct impact to the community I am now serving.

What fuels your passion for your work?

What fuels my passion in working in this field are 4 P’s – Process, Permit, People and Progress. Firstly, the treatment Process is what motivates me to know the intricacies to achieve the water quality we want to achieve. Secondly, Permits helps me and my peers to make sure we are doing our roles in protecting the public health and the environment. Thirdly, People which includes my peers, my family and friends, and the community I am serving, fuels my passion and helps me be reminded that service comes before myself. Lastly, Progress is what keeps me progressing in my career and teaches me how to be a better operator/co-worker.

What is the biggest mis-perception about working in water?

I think one of the biggest mis-perceptions is in the wastewater treatment plant, where you work in a funky-smelling environment. It is true, but only in certain areas of the plant. When I tried to encourage someone to get into our field, they always think about the physical factors that are not suitable for them. I can say that I and my agency value safety and that core value is conducive to helping me complete work properly.

Why should veterans join this field?

I think veterans should join the water industry because of the training and mindset acquired from military training and experiences. Attention to details, excellence in what I do, and service before self are some of the things that I carry over to my civilian career.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

The most rewarding aspect of my work is the ability to contribute daily to have a sustainable and renewable water resources.