Editor’s Note: Brad Makrdichian is a heavy equipment operator, working from Mark Wilmer Pumping Plant near Lake Havasu to Burnt Mountain, approximately 93 miles away.
How does the work you do on a daily basis affect our water supply?
Throughout the year we do preventative maintenance in each pool fixing erosion, drainage issues and damage from people and animals. For about 3 months during the summer I am up at Mark Wilmer Pumping Plant collecting the weeds and root balls with the weed boat and the excavator before it plugs up the intake to the pumps. Mark Wilmer Pumping Plant is the heart of our water delivery and without the work we do there to keep the pumps going people in Phoenix would have no water.
What are some of the technical advances that allow you to do your job more effectively and efficiently?
Most of the equipment that we have and are getting is becoming more technically advanced with options from laser systems and GPS systems, which allows the operator to set a grade and the machine does the work. It can help to be used as a guide when creating new drainage or rebuilding areas back up to spec. We also have a tablet that enables us to view the canal and assists us in locating problem areas discovered by our inspector so we can get them fixed. This helps us in finding the exact area of the issue that has been written up.
What's the most challenging part of your work?
Probably one of the most challenging parts of our work is communication via cellphones and data service for the tablet when being used to pull up job locations. Data service is almost unavailable at our yard and very limited along a lot of the canal where we are working. Working in the remote areas as we do may sometimes be challenging because we have to make sure we have everything plus more than needed. In a lot of our areas it’s at least an hour in any direction if you’re “one bolt short” and have to go get it to finish a job. Also since you are so remote we have to make sure we have all our needed safety equipment and plenty of water for the hot Arizona days. Bee attacks, snake bites, slips trips or falls are just some of the dangers that could happen if we weren’t prepared, and if there is an emergency, it might just take help too long to get to us for help.
What's the most gratifying part of your job?
For me the satisfaction I get is coming to work and performing at the highest level to complete the small tasks my position requires compared to the vast effort it takes to move water across the State of Arizona for millions of people to enjoy a higher quality life. Simply put, being part of the bigger picture that is Central Arizona Project.
How did you get into this line of work?
When I was young I always had an interest in heavy equipment. I moved to Parker when I was 13 years old and became friends with the son of a local contractor, Steve Stanton Construction. I started working for them, learning to operate bobcats, mini excavators, backhoes, concrete and general labor work. I got hired with La Paz County Highway Department in 1997 and that served as a training ground to build my career. I got my Commercial Driver’s License and learned every piece of equipment the county owns efficiently. I worked my way up to a maintenance worker 3 (blade operator) after the first couple a years. I always wanted to get hired on here at CAP and when the opening became available I applied, interviewed and was hired.