Staff Spotlight – Donnie Bankston
Team Member since 10/25/10
Latest Achievement: Water Lab Analyst Certification
Before becoming a utility employee, Donnie was also a customer of the BGJWSC. “There’s a lot more to getting a glass of water than just turning on the faucet,” he said. “Being involved in the operation revealed to me how many people and processes go into the production of water for our consumption and for fire use.”
Donnie grew up in Brunswick and worked for Georgia Power for 17 years. He chose to stay here when downsizing meant a move to downtown Atlanta. Having started with the BGJWSC as a member of the sewer inspection crew, he transferred to the water productions side of the organization a few years back and quickly obtained the Class III Water Operator license.
Part of Donnie’s daily routine involves the analysis of water samples for chlorine, phosphate, pH, bacterial, chloride, and conductivity. He also responds to taste, odor and color complaints.
Following stringent guidelines established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental Protection Division of the State of Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the lab analysts of the BGJWSC keep the utility in compliance with sampling requirements by regularly taking a total of 72 bacteriological water samples from various taps in the distribution system.
As a water operator, Donnie also performs maintenance on the pumping system that draws water from wells. In the rare event that things don’t go as planned, such as the failure of a service pump, some repairs require hands-on replacement while others require dialing in remotely to the water pumping station and activating another pump. This technology, known as SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition), gives the water operators a dashboard that shows the system-wide status of service pumps, well run times and volume of flow, reservoir levels at 11 ground storage tanks and pressures at 8 elevated storage tanks.
“SCADA really makes things a lot easier. It helps you to know when there’s a fault without looking for customers to call to let us know or not knowing until you show up to work the next day.” When he’s on call, Donnie gets an automated response from the system to alert when something is operating out of range. He can then investigate the situation and determine if a trip to the site is required or whether he can simply follow up with tools in hand during his rotation by the station the next day.