Mary Stephens, Water Systems Operator, began her career at OUC 13 years ago, following her enlistment as an environmental support specialist at Patrick Air Force Base in Brevard County. Stephens, originally from West Virginia, says her mom was her greatest role model. “She taught me how to be a strong woman and to value family,” she said. It’s this strength that she takes with her to OUC every day to ensure reliable H2OUC for our customers.
“Safe, great-tasting drinking water is my end goal,” said Stephens who operates seven water treatment plants that serve more than 440,000 residents across Orlando. She remotely adjusts distribution pressures and chemicals for disinfection, pH control and fluoride. Stephens also responds to power outages, equipment failures and main breaks.
Stephens works a six-week shift rotation. Four weeks are spent at the Pershing Control Center, working one week of midnight shifts, 12-hour weekend shifts and multiple 3 p.m. to 11 a.m. shifts. Two weeks are spent out in the field, collecting biological samples and flushing the water distribution system.
Favorite OUC Memory
Water plants are staffed 24 hours a day, so Stephens spends many holidays in the Pershing Control Center. She said OUC provided the department with decorations and poinsettias to decorate the control room and water production area. “I’m glad OUC understands that we are away from our families, and helps make our day festive and enjoyable. Little things make a big difference.”
“My favorite thing about working here is my amazing team,” Stephens said. Water system operators have a hand-in-hand relationship with field mechanical, electrical, and instrumentation technicians. “During Hurricane Irma, the technicians manned each water plant and working together, we maintained consistent treatment and uninterrupted water for our OUC customers.”