By Cassie McClure
Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News 8/22/21
One of the newest Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) buildings will be named to honor the long-term LCU Director, Dr. Jorge A. Garcia. The water quality laboratory built in 2019 will now be known as the Jorge A. Garcia Water Quality Laboratory.
“When I joined the City of Las Cruces (City) in November 1989, it would have never occurred to me I would leave over 30 years later with my name displayed on one of our Utility buildings,” said Garcia.
It’s been a long journey to bring the laboratory into existence, one that Garcia has overseen during a good portion of his career. He explained that in the late 1990s, LCU’s major wastewater facility expansion included a new laboratory; however, the project had to be phased in due to financial constraints.
“Wastewater treatment and capacity expansion needs were given priority because of the growing city,” he said. “The lab kept up with its mission in compliance and performed with limited space and resources until we were able to construct this new facility.”
The over 11,000 square foot facility is LEED-certified, maximizing efficiency as a green energy-saving building, and is five times as large as the one LCU used previously. Most importantly, the facility also separates water and wastewater testing into two different lab spaces to eliminate opportunities for cross-contamination. Garcia said that he hopes that the facility will lead in safety locally and hopefully as a regional testing site in the future.
“The City Utility has been a great place to work and has allowed for innovation to accomplish many projects,” Garcia said.
Garcia, the LCU director from 2001 to 2020, was also the chief utilities engineer for the City from 1996 to 2001. During that time, Garcia helped establish 10 City Water Wells and associated pump stations, oversaw the installation of the first computer-based supervisory control and data acquisition system, managed the implementation of North Zone 1, North Zone 2, and South Zone 1 water pressure zones on the city’s East Mesa and facility upgrades at the Jacob Hands Wastewater Treatment Facility.
His dedication in working with the City at all levels is apparent in the well-wishes he’s received.
“Congratulations to Dr. Jorge Garcia; we hope the naming of this facility will let the public know how much you have dedicated to the city of Las Cruces,” said Ken Miyagishima, Las Cruces mayor. “You brought new technology and visionary ideas that helped residents save money, reduced waste, and provided a cleaner and safer product for all of Las Cruces.”
William Little, chair of the LCU Board of Commissioners, said, “Dr. Garcia defined and enhanced the effectiveness and the professionalism of LCU. He focused on nurturing the staff, growing their professions, as well as growing the reliability of the mission.”
And still, Garcia looks to the future, “There is always the goal of providing the best utility services to our customers with the newest technology that keeps the water safe. That environment must be fostered as our population continues to grow so that others can also enjoy a rewarding career as I have.”
LCU 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, or after hours assistance, call LCU Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: The newly named Jorge A. Garcia Water Quality Laboratory honors the former director who has overseen much of the progress for the utility over his 30-year career at the City.