By Cassie McClure
Published in Las Cruces Bulletin 4.15.2022
There are over 700 miles of water pipes throughout the city and it’s up to Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) to make sure that when residents or business owners reach for the tap, safe, clean, and reliable water service is available day or night.
LCU employees are ready at a moment’s notice to maintain water lines. When LCU dispatch receives a call on a possible water line issue, they reach out to the Water Line Maintenance (WLM) staff. Of the four staff on rotation residents might meet when calling in a potential leak are LCU Water Resources Technicians Eliseo Carrasco and Zaira Herrera.
“We are the customer's first contact with LCU,” said Carrasco. “We are the ones to advise them of the situation, especially if we have to turn off the water and check in the area for leaks.”
Carrasco, who has worked in WLM for seven years, explained that a role involves educating the public as much as possible so that they know how a water line situation might affect them. “We will listen to the pipe itself, and the vibration will help us determine whether or not the leak is on the customer side or on the City [of Las Cruces] side,” he said.
LCU Water Distribution Interim Supervisor Filiberto Aguirre Jr. said theirs is one of the toughest jobs in LCU. “They have to determine the priority level of a leak for repair and engage with customers who might be concerned about a leak or access to water,” he said. “They have to be ready to answer questions, but also have to care about people.”
For Carrasco, that comes easily to him, especially as he gets to know people one-on-one.
“When I talk to veterans, I get to hear their stories and I like that,” said Carrasco. “It’s a job where I can go to different places and work at my own pace. Most customers are very good to me.”
Herrera transferred specifically to Water Line Maintenance. “It’s hands-on and you’re going to get wet,” she said. “I’ve learned to keep an extra set of clothes around, a pair of socks especially. But it’s rewarding to help people with water problems like low pressure or discolored water.”
She said that sometimes residents don’t understand the process in the field but she’s always happy to explain if asked by a resident.
“People will see a hole exposed and us standing at the top,” she said. “What they don’t see is how we’re rotating in and out of working in the hole or waiting for different equipment to arrive.”
Aguirre Jr. said that the whole crew takes the responsibility of protecting the public very seriously. “When I look around after work at a store or any other public building where the people congregate, I feel responsible for public safety,” he said. “Our team is working like clockwork to have water be there when people need it.”
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 & 2: LCU WLM Water Resources Technicians Eliseo Carrasco and Zaira Herrera.