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Behind the Tap Spotlight: Hicks Water Production Plant Operator Stephen Gibbs

Behind the Tap Spotlight: Hicks Water Production Plant Operator Stephen Gibbs

 Meet Terry R. Hicks Water Production Plant Operator Stephen Gibbs. Stephen’s primary job duty is to provide safe, clean drinking water to the people of Clayton County. He does this from the Hicks Plant, which is located and the corner of Tara Boulevard and Freeman Road. This plant is different from traditional water treatment plants because it is an indoor plant using the ClariCone purification process. CCWA was one of the first water systems in the southeast to utilize this innovative method for treating drinking water.

He performs lab tests on the water at the scheduled times to ensure that our treatment techniques are effective in removing undesirable organics and microorganisms from the water. He also walks around the plant at scheduled times to make sure all chemical feeders and monitoring devices are working properly, and calibrating lab equipment.

The Hicks Plant operators are responsible for running the entire 1,300 miles distribution system for the county. “It is our job to make sure all three water treatment plants are producing and treating enough water to meet the county’s daily water usage, which is currently 28 million gallons per day,” he adds. Along with this, Hicks Plant operators constantly monitor all pump stations and elevated tanks, making calculated pump changes to ensure that the tanks do not overflow or get pumped to low.

Stephen says he likes a lot of different things about his job. “I like that I get to work in a lab and must apply science in a lot of instances (science was my favorite subject in school).  I like the fact that I get to treat water, one of the earth’s most precious resources. This gives me a certain sense of fulfillment in being able to provide the county with such a precious resource.”

He also likes providing plant tours to students, members of the community and industry peers. If you have been on a tour of the Hicks Plant, you most likely met Stephen. His passion for what he does and his genuine connection with people can’t be missed. “I am a people person so having the opportunity to interact with people is something that comes natural for me and something I thoroughly enjoy,” he adds.

Challenges include operating the distribution system in less-than-ideal situations, like during power outages, main breaks, pump failures etc.  “All these issues have the potential to have a ripple effect on balancing the amount of water available to the distribution system. If the pump fails, or we have a power outage, we have to figure how to continue to supply the daily demand of water, as well as not allow the ground storage tanks to overfill. This can be very stressful depending on the severity of the issue.”

While most people have never thought of becoming a water plant operator, Stephen finds it rewarding to be able to serve more than 270,000 people safe clean drinking water on a daily basis.  “I think more people should consider becoming plant operators,” he adds. “I find the process of water treatment fascinating. I think if more people new about this type of job, it would be highly sought after.” #waterprofessional