Published in the Las Cruces Sun News 9.4.2022
By Cassie McClure
During the 10th anniversary of the Griggs-Walnut Groundwater Plume Remediation Project at 163 N. Cottonwood St., Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) announced the renaming of the site in honor of retired long-time employee LCU Water Production Supervisor Pascual Rodriguez, Jr.
In the last year, Pascual Rodriguez, Jr. has been enjoying his retirement after 28 years with LCU but admits that what he misses most about working at LCU is his crew.
“I still get texts and go to lunch with them,” he said. “I don’t miss the paperwork and getting up throughout the night. Though, I did it because it was important to me that people had the water they needed in the morning, even if we were working on a well at night. We made sure that no one would wake up with an outage.”
Rodriguez began at LCU in 1993 as a cooperative (co-op) student Operator Trainee and graduated with an associate degree in Water Utility Operation in 1994. In 1996, Rodriguez earned his Water and Wastewater Level 4 certifications for the State of New Mexico. He was promoted to Water Production Operator in 2003 and was active in the innovative design and construction of the Griggs Walnut Groundwater Plume Superfund Site (Griggs Walnut) project.
“I oversaw the construction with the contractors who installed the facility because I wanted to know how it worked at all ends, knowing that me and my crew would need to take care of it 24/7 since it would run 24/7,” said Rodriguez.
The facility was substantially completed in 2012, the same year that Rodriguez was promoted to Water Production Projects Coordinator and became directly responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Griggs Walnut treatment facility. In 2016, Rodriguez was promoted to Water Production Supervisor and continued to oversee the operation and maintenance of the treatment facility until his retirement in 2021.
“Pascual’s legacy will live on not just through the name of the building, but through the active mentorship that he gave almost effortlessly to new and continued staff,” said LCU Assistant Director Adrienne L. Widmer, P.E. “His methods of diligence are carried on by those he taught, even if they might not choose to adopt wearing the same safety safari hat he was known for.”
Through his diligence in operating and maintaining the Griggs Walnut treatment facility with his crew, the facility has removed over 34%, or 102 pounds of tetrachloroethylene (PCE) from the aquifer and put the clean water to beneficial use, meeting the Environmental Protection Agency's Consent Decree requirements.
Throughout his 28-year distinguished career, Rodriguez has instructed, mentored, inspired, and supported LCU associates, co-ops, and interns while supporting other City of Las Cruces (City) lines of business, New Mexico Utility Operators, the Doña Ana Branch Community College Water Technology Program, and the Joint Superfund Project for the City and Doña Ana County.
The Doña Ana County Commission approved the naming of the facility to 'Pascual Rodriguez, Jr. Griggs Walnut Groundwater Plume Superfund Site Treatment Facility at their July 28, 2022, meeting, contingent upon the City Council approving the resolution, which it did on August 1, 2022, through Resolution 23-016.
Widmer said, “Pascual is one of the unknown stars that showed devotion to our community in his position. He worked without being noticed by the public without much fanfare, and it was important to us to recognize his efforts and the exemplary service he brought to our city.”
LCU – Your Utility Connection. Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities
For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: Pascual Rodriguez, Jr. Griggs Walnut Groundwater Plume Superfund Site Treatment Facility: (left to right) Doña Ana County Manager Fernando Macias, LCU Director Delilah Walsh, Pascual Rodriguez, LCU Assistant Director Adrienne Widmer, LCU Board of Commissioner Raymond Hickman.