Water District Sweeps 2018 Association Awards:
Best Membrane Plant, Best Operator, Best Tasting Water

September 2018

The Water District collected three of the top awards at the recent annual meeting of the South Central Membrane Association (SCMA) in San Antonio.

The District’s Plant C won first place in the Large Membrane Plant category and water from the plant came out on top to win the Best Tasting Membrane Water award.  Jason Gillespie, the district’s Chief Operator and Operations Department supervisor, was presented the organization’s 2018 Outstanding Plant Operator Award. 

The South Central Membrane Association’s members are water providers located in Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Plant C is a microfiltration facility capable of treating up to 19.4 million gallons of water a day. The plant was the first large scale membrane water treatment plant producing municipal water in Texas when it was put in service in January 2000.  It employs Pall Corp. membrane technology and was the first Pall membrane plant in the nation used for municipal water supply. Because of its innovative processes, over the years SPMWD has hosted frequent visits from state, national and international groups.

The Water District was honored by SCMA for its industry leadership, safety record and maintenance programs related to Plant C.

Gillespie has been the Operations Department supervisor since 2015 and works as a relief operator when needed.  He joined the Water District staff in 1999 and his work since has been closely associated with Plant C.  His initial job was as a plant operator during the time that Plant C was being completed and brought on line.  Gillespie then moved into the Instrumentation and Electrical Department so he could work closely with Pall programmers and design engineers.  He spent the next 13 years developing, designing and programming systems within the membrane plant and in remote pump stations.

Operations Manager Jake Krumnow recalls that during those years Gillespie developed a vast knowledge of the membrane plant and how all of its systems work together to reliably serve eight cities and 10 industrial customers.

“With his knowledge he is able to explain how and why things work the way they do in all three of our plants as well as in the distribution system.  He makes a very good middleman between the maintenance and the instrumentation departments because he has worked in both.  It is sometimes very hard for operators to understand computer technicians and programmers but Jason knows the technical language and is very good at communicating,” Krumnow said.

Gillespie is also a member of the District’s primary hurricane crew that remains on site to maintain plants during and after major storms.  During Hurricane Harvey in 2017 the crew was able to keep every customer in water during and after the event.