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Utilities manager appointment fulfills lifelong dream for Glasco

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By Arin McKenna

 

Pending council approval, the Tim Glasco, the Deputy Utility Manager for Gas, Water and Sewer Services for the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities will become the next DPU manager for the county. 

BPU Vice-Chair Chris Ortega, who made the announcement about the board’s choice Thursday, remarked on the quality of all five candidates that were interviewed. 

“They all brought different skill sets to the table and had very, very good experience in certain areas,” Ortega said, then noted some of things that weighed in Glasco’s favor. 

“He has broad experience. He’s been in the utilities business most of his career. I hired him in 1995 to help us acquire the water production system,” Ortega said. 

“Tim has got an extremely good background in dealing with federal agencies, as well, like NNSA, EPA. And I think we need that in the future. He’s also got a good perspective on alternative energy, which we’ll be looking at in the future.

“So I think all those things combined made him the top candidate. I think Tim will do really, really well. He’s really versatile, and he’s got a lot of background. He’s excellent at delving into matters and solving problems. So I think it will all work out.”

Retiring Manager John Arrowsmith supports the board’s decision. 

“I think his experience with the water and his history with the community is a great asset to the community, and also his experience working with the EPA,” Arrowsmith said. “He and I were talking yesterday about his familiarity with the Clean Air Act and the issues we’re facing at San Juan Generating Station. I think both those experiences of his will be invaluable to the board and department going forward.”

The Board of Public Utilities recommendation fulfills a lifelong goal for Glasco, which he formulated under the mentorship of one of his college professors. 

“We talked about it a lot, and I came to the realization that this was really what I wanted was to manage a utilities department in a small town in New Mexico,” Glasco said. “So it’s kind of been in the back of my mind. Every decision I made brought me closer to that. And so, this is really quite literally the fulfillment of a lifelong career.”

Glasco’s mentor spelled out the steps he should take to reach that goal: work for a regulatory agency for three or four years, work for a consulting firm specializing in municipal projects four to six years and become familiar with municipal government and dealing with the political system. 

“When we talked, he’d say, here’s what I recommend you do,” Glasco said. “And I’d listen to him and think, there’s no way I’m ever going to do that.”

Yet Glasco found himself following every one of those recommendations, starting with working for the EPA for three years.

“He (the professor) said one of the common problems with small municipalities is they’re so totally intimidated by the regulatory agencies they have no idea of their rights, how to read a law or regulation. They don’t know what it means, does it apply to them, yes or no?” Glasco said. “He said, spend just a few years working in a regulatory agency, and you’ll learn how they work, how they tick, why these rules are written the way they are and all the stuff that goes into that.” 

His mentor recommended consulting for gaining a broad range of design experience, with a focus on municipal projects. Glasco spent four years working for a consulting firm that does more municipal work in water and wastewater than any other firm in New Mexico. 

That experience also familiarized Glasco with local government. He crisscrossed the state attending city council meetings for his projects. 

One of his assignments was project manager for wastewater plant at Los Alamos National Laboratory. After the design was complete, the contractor building the plant offered Glasco a job helping to assure the plant was constructed correctly. 

That led to Glasco moving into utilities operations at LANL, a position he held five and half years. 

Glasco was the engineer running the water system, so when LANL asked Los Alamos County to take over the water system, the county offered him a job as water manager, to help with the transition and to oversee water operations afterwards.

That was in 1995. By 1998, Glasco’s duties expanded to his current role as deputy utility manager for gas, water and sewer services.

“I’ve worked here for over 18 years, so I’ve got a lot of ideas of what works and what doesn’t,” Glasco said. “I think I know the people in this department really well, so I have realistic expectations of what we can do.

“Mostly, I want to continue on the path that we’re on.”

That path includes planning to install Smart Meters for electric, water and gas in every home.

“We’re just at the very, very threshold of that. so that’s going to be an emphasis over the next few years,” Glasco said. Glasco himself volunteered to be the first to receive an electronic water meter. He has used the data from the meter to determine exactly when and how his household uses water. 

Other projects include continuing to upgrade the electrical system and completing a five-year project to upgrade the gas system. 

Glasco said the thing he is most looking forward to is the challenge, and there are many of those ahead. 

The most pressing challenge is the replacement of the White Rock wastewater treatment plant, which he describes as “at or past the end of its life.” 

Funding the expensive project will be the greatest challenge, according to Glasco. Experience building the Los Alamos wastewater plant does not hold much hope for the county receiving grants to mitigate the costs. The $14 million dollar project was only awarded $1 million in grant money. 

Close on the heels of replacing the plant is replacing aging sewer lines. 

“We’ve got old, collapsed, root infested sewer lines, and we’re going to heroics to clean that but basically a sewer line is at the mercy of whatever anybody wants to put down a drain,” Glasco said.

That is another very expensive project, since sewer lines may be buried as much as 20 feet deep to achieve a downhill grade. They are also the largest pipes of any utility system and require $3,000 to $4,000 manholes every 300 feet.

Glasco is also gearing up for challenges without ready solutions.

“There are a lot of challenges that are either completely outside our control or are only nominally within our ability to influence, and San Juan (Generating Plant) kind of falls into that category,” Glasco said. 

According to Glasco, many environmental laws are being brought to bear on the plant, as well as issues such as coal supply and Co2 sequestration. 

Glasco appears to be ready for what lies ahead.

“I’m excited. I’m very honored by the board’s confidence in me. That’s pretty huge,” Glasco said. “And I’m just excited to get doing it.”