As part of CAP’s Know Your Water series, you will be meeting some of the employees who work each day to ensure Colorado River water flows through our 336-mile aqueduct to reach our municipal, agricultural, industrial and tribal customers.
Learn more about Lillian Avenente of Maintenance South via her words below and by watching this video.
Q: In a nutshell, what do you do for CAP?
A: I am the Maintenance South Secretary, based out of the Tucson Field Office (TFO). I support the Maintenance South Manager, four pumping plant and two aqueduct maintenance supervisors and their crews. TFO is also home to employees from several other departments such as Protective Services, Public Affairs, Engineering, and Maintenance Planning to name a few. I support these employees, as well as any others that may be visiting and/or working out of TFO for their current assignment.
Q: How did you get into this line of work?
A: In 1997, after being a stay at home mom for a year, I was hired as a part-time receptionist at the Carpenter’s Local 408 in Tucson. I quickly discovered that I actually liked paperwork, but more than that, I enjoyed working with the membership and supporting the organizers and business agents who worked so hard to keep those guys working. Within six months I had earned a full-time position. One year after becoming full time I was approached about transferring to the SE AZ Carpenter’s Apprenticeship where I would be running that office on a full-time basis. Up until then that office was only open 15 – 20 hours a week. This is where I was able to really spread my wings strengthen my skills. I worked for the Apprenticeship for almost 10 years. I did a brief stint in medical billing, really not as fun as much fun as it sounds, and all of this led me to CAP.
Q: How does the work you do on a daily basis affect our water supply?
A: I directly support the crews that work tirelessly to keep the water flowing. I may not directly impact flow, but my focus on giving the supervisors the support they need administratively on any given day, allows them the freedom to spend more time in the plants/field with their crews ensuring demands are met.
Q: What are some of the technical advances that allow you to do your job more effectively and efficiently?
A: Advances in the internet, cell phones, and teleconferencing have really helped close the gap in our 336-mile system. Company-wide presentations and meetings can be attended whether you are at Mark Wilmer, Headquarters or TFO and almost anywhere in between with the new tele-presence system we are now utilizing. It’s nice to be able to attend a meeting that otherwise would have been inconvenient.
Q: What's the most challenging part of your work?
A: I support roughly 50 employees, who are spread over 147 miles of CAP’s canal, from just north of the Salt Gila Pumping Plant to the terminus south of Tucson. Keeping up with each of them and where they might be working at any given time is definitely a chore. Making sure they have supplies, hotels, or just computer support where ever they are on our system on a daily basis can be very time consuming.
Q: What's the most gratifying part of your job?
A: I get to do a job that I love every day, working with a great group of people who are top in their field of work. But the most gratifying part is knowing that my small contribution is helping to supply a vital resource to my fellow Arizonans today and into the future.
Q: What is your favorite part about working at CAP?
A: When I first came to CAP, I was amazed at how helpful everyone was. I was worried that the atmosphere would change over time as in my past experiences. I am very happy to say that eight years later, the atmosphere has remained positive and helpful. I still look forward to coming to work every day. On a personal note, my son who is now 18, thanked me for having a “cool” job and for being part of a company that is working hard to help secure a healthy water supply for his future.