Alumni Spotlight: Ross Albert, Class of ‘09


Alumni Spotlight:  Ross Albert, Class of ‘09

Ross Albert is a University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) undergraduate alumnus of the class of 2009. He received a B.A. in Environmental Studies and is currently employed by the Scotts Valley Water District as a Lead Water Facilities Operator.

During my studies at UCSC, I gained valuable exposure to various aspects of the water industry through the diverse offerings of undergraduate coursework provided in the Department of Environmental Studies. While studying under Professor Brent Haddad, I enrolled in courses that provided exposure to the basic practices and principles of current water management. I also developed a theoretical understanding of the complex history behind water-related decisions.  Focusing on big picture issues related to freshwater management – such as the protection of water resources from contamination and overuse, and the potential impacts of global climate change – has allowed me to gain a comprehensive understanding of many of today’s water challenges, and the importance of engaging the needs of a diverse network of stakeholders who sometimes have conflicting concerns, in the water management process. Other coursework focused much more on the applied aspects of the water industry ranging from water related arithmetic and regulatory information to best available techniques for treatment and tours of local water facilities guided by licensed treatment operators.

My experience studying under Professor Haddad established a strong foundation that proved to be advantageous to my development as a young treatment plant operator. I was encouraged to “get my feet wet” and pursue multiple water-related internships, all of which provided valuable professional experience and exposure to a variety of niches within the water industry. Symposiums held by the Center for Integrated Water Research allowed me to engage with a number of water treatment professionals, and academics from outside of the Environmental Studies Department, who share an interest in the future of the water industry. This “hand’s on” approach offered by Professor Haddad fueled my interest in becoming a water operator, and prepared me for the licensing exams, required by the California Department of Public Health, to operate public drinking water facilities.

As a water quality technician for the Scotts Valley Water District, I am responsible for a variety of tasks related to the District's water treatment operations and production facilities. I regularly work in both the lab and the field settings to conduct analyses related to water quality control throughout the district. Working for a small water district has also afforded me the opportunity to participate in treatment plant maintenance procedures, district planning and budget preparation, as well as public relations. I have also prepared reports for management and regulatory agencies on a variety of topics including: water quality testing, aquifer monitoring, the management of MSDS (materials safety data sheet) information, and the training of field staff on treatment related appurtenances such as different chemicals used in water treatment, chemical pumps, and field test kit procedures. I have also been able to use my interest in water quality to be of service to the local community by participating in volunteer water sampling programs throughout the County of Santa Cruz. I continue to pursue higher levels of treatment distribution operator certification and explore new areas of the water industry, such as backflow prevention and cross-connection prevention and abatement. For me, working in the water industry has been a terrific career decision that began as an undergraduate in the Department of Environmental Studies, and continues to be fulfilling.