By Cassie McClure
Published in Las Cruces Bulletin 12.31.21.
Nuestra Gente is a series of articles, once a month, to profile various employees at the Las Cruces Utilities (LCU).
Eli Duran, LCU Metering Infrastructure & Building Support Supervisor
Why did you decide to join the LCU? I wanted the opportunity to work for an organization that was solid, a place that would give opportunities to grow within. I’ve been with LCU for 13 years.
What is something about you that we wouldn’t know and that you’d like to share? I volunteer as a firefighter within the county and love doing it, especially being able to help others in their time of need. All the learning you need to do to keep up with daily changes is a challenge that I like.
Do you have a favorite memory or experience at LCU? It’s been a good experience to complete projects for the upkeep of the utilities buildings and see improvements that are being made.
Laura Montoya, Interim Deputy Director Wastewater
Why did you decide to join the LCU?
I had quit my job of 16 years as a chemist for White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) to raise my son. When he entered elementary school, I was ready to go back to work; there was a job opening at the Jorge A. Garcia Water Quality Laboratory (WQL), and I was hired in May 2006. I worked there until 2016 and worked in Pollution Prevention for five years.
That is something about you that we wouldn’t know and that you’d like to share?
I have been working in the chemistry field since 1985, when I graduated from college and started working for the Department of Defense at WSMR. At WSMR, I was a Sr. Analytical Chemist at the High Energy Laser Testing Facility, analyzing the purity/composition of various samples ranging from high-pressure gas systems to laser debris. I never even saw a wastewater sample, much less analyze one, until I began working with the WQL analyzing sewage.
Believe me, that took a little getting used to. It was a complete 180-degree difference between the samples I was accustomed to and the samples I was now analyzing. After a couple of years of not really knowing why the analytical results of these wastewater samples were so important, I became really interested in the theory and technology of wastewater treatment; in fact, I became fascinated by it. So much so that I began teaching as an Adjunct Professor for Water Technology at Doña Ana Community College in 2011, and I’m still there, ten years later, teaching Water/Wastewater, Chemistry and Microbiology.
Many of the students I have taught over the years are now working in the LCU Water and Wastewater lines of business.
As I look back over my 36-year chemistry career, I can honestly say that these last 15 years of working and teaching in the field of Water and Wastewater have been by far the most rewarding and humbling years of my life, second only to being a mom.
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, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: Interim Deputy Director Wastewater Laura Montoya
PHOTO 2: LCU Metering Infrastructure & Building Support Supervisor Eli Duran