Liquid News

IRWD Employee Marks 35 Years

Lester BusaldOne of the Irvine Ranch Water District’s greatest assets is its employee base and the District can surely demonstrate longevity among its workforce. Three employees will reach a 30-year milestone of employment with the District this year and 11 of them have logged more than 30 years. One of them is Lester Busald, who achieved 35 years of service in early January. Busald is an Operations Supervisor at the Michelson Water Recycling Plant.

“I was 20 when I started, so I can honestly look back and say I grew up here,” Busald said.

He began his long IRWD career as a Utility Worker at the plant. This involved doing any job asked of him - even if it meant climbing into the four small circular clarifiers and scrubbing the algae off the walls before the peak wastewater flow came in.

“In those days, the plant was at four million gallons per day,” he recalled. “Peak flow would be a little more than seven million.”

For all of his 35 years, Busald had worked in wastewater treatment. When he was hired in 1979, there were three shifts working at the Michelson plant. Emerging computer technology eventually rendered three shifts unnecessary. Stand-by plant operators now respond to problems at the plant from home with the click of a mouse.

As the new employee, Busald spent his first eight months on the graveyard shift. Prior to IRWD, Busald worked for an aerospace company in Anaheim, where he grew up. Coming to work at IRWD allowed him to get married later that year.

Over the years, Busald has moved up from the entry level position to the one he holds today – Operations Supervisor. He has been involved in every plant upgrade since that time, including development of the Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, construction of the circular clarifier, to the current expansion of the plant which will process 28 millions of wastewater per day.

As various aspects of the new plant infrastructure go online, Busand and all of the operators undergo extensive training. The plant currently processes 20 mgd. He has received training on the new headworks and the high-rate clarifier. He and his fellow operations supervisor, Dave Hayden, oversee various portions of the plant. Busald and his five operators are responsible for the new headworks, high-rate clarifier and the older section of the plant. He is looking forward to training on the new membrane bioreactor.

Construction at the plant, which began in 2009, is expected to wrap up in May. More information on MWRP and the construction progress may be found on our website.

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