Nine days without power: My ice storm story as an EWEB customer and employee
While beautiful and peaceful, buying a home on the edge of the forest and surrounded by trees has its tradeoffs. Moving “upriver,” I knew there would be more threats to prepare for, including Mother Nature’s seasonal surprises.Find Out More
Preparation and Resilience: How EWEB Maintained Water Service During Recent Ice Storm
Learn about the projects and people that helped EWEB keep water flowing throughout the extreme weather event.Find Out More
EWEB achieves power restoration milestone over the weekend
Crews have so far restored power for 92% of customers who originally lost power at the height of the ice storm.Find Out More
Reenergized McKenzie River Valley transmission lines allow EWEB crews to restore power upriver
On Friday, a majority of EWEB crews tackled power restoration efforts upriver, after federally managed transmission lines were reenergized Thursday.Find Out More
EWEB estimates one week to complete power system restoration
On Wednesday, EWEB crews restored power for about 10,000 customers by repairing large equipment first.Find Out More
Second round of ice and ensuing thaw prompt mass power outages
On Wednesday, all EWEB crews, who have been working nonstop since Saturday, traversed EWEB’s service territory assessing the damage and restoring transmission lines and main power feeders.Find Out More
Power restored at EWEB’s water treatment plant
Crews restored electric power at EWEB's Hayden Bridge Water Filtration Plant Monday evening, allowing operators to switch off the generators and rely again on the grid. Meanwhile, EWEB crews brace for additional outages amidst second round of ice and during the coming thaw.Find Out More
EWEB crews making downed lines safe and restoring power across Eugene and the foothills
As EWEB works to restore electric service to customers affected by the ice storm, the customer-owned utility is following established policies and its “hierarchy of repair” to prioritize repairs that restore electric service to the greatest number of customers.Find Out More
Leaburg Decommissioning Action Plan
Plan details next steps through regulatory processes to begin dismantling Leaburg Dam by 2032.Find Out More
What’s ahead in 2024: General manager’s message to EWEB customer-owners
At the start of the new year, we back at accomplishments from 2023 and look ahead at what's to come in 2024.Find Out More
Currin Substation: End of year update
EWEB Engineer Philip Peterson explains what's been happening in the final stretch to complete the substation rebuild.Find Out More
EWEB 2023 year in review
In 2023, EWEB invested in our community with grants, rebates and an array of other programs and measures aimed at fulfilling our core values of safety, reliability, affordability, environmental responsibility and community/culture.Find Out More
EWEB Recognized with Excellence in Communications Awards from American Public Power Association
We are proud to have been recognized with two Excellence in Public Power Communications Awards for 2023 from the American Public Power Association (APPA).Find Out More
Let's talk turkey. If a disaster strikes, is your family ready?
Many of us avoid discussing politics over the dinner table in the spirit of family peace and harmony. But here's a topic that can bring everyone together: emergency preparedness.Find Out More
EWEB To Hold First of Two Public Hearings on Proposed 2024 Budget and Prices
At the Nov. 7 Board of Commissioners meeting, EWEB staff will present a proposed budget that includes rate increases necessary to support utility operations and make needed infrastructure investments.Find Out More
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Women in STEM: Meet the water quality specialist who ensures the safety of Eugene's drinking water
July 20, 2023 • Molly Babcock, EWEB Communications
High up in the Cascade Mountains, a spring feeds Clear Lake. Porous volcanic rocks filter groundwater before it enters the lake, from which it proceeds into the McKenzie River. The river flows 85 miles before it reaches the Hayden Bridge Water Treatment Plant, where Brenda Casarez started her career at EWEB in 2009.
Since then, Casarez has worked her way up to senior water quality specialist. Her team collects samples from all over the water system, including over 100 sampling stations throughout Eugene. Water samples are tested for different contaminants depending on location and timing.
EWEB’s current monitoring plan consists of over 300 contaminants, with multiple collections each year. Casarez reports test results to the Oregon Health Authority, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and EWEB customers. Casarez also stays educated about new regulations and best practices to stay ahead of testing requirements.
Casarez’s work, EWEB’s filtration process and robust watershed protection measures have all contributed to ensuring EWEB’s water is some of the cleanest in the world.
“Water matters to everybody, and we need to send out a product that is safe and tastes as good as we can make it,” she said. “Any drop of water that leaves our treatment plant could be the drop that is making a baby's formula.”
Casarez has come a long way, but her path wasn’t always clear.
“By high school, I knew that I wanted to do something in the sciences,” she said.
She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor’s of General Sciences in 1992. After school, Casarez worked at a local laboratory and environmental consulting firm for 17 years.
“I started in the laboratory running the lab certification program and then transitioned to consulting on regulatory issues for smaller Oregon Public Water Systems,” Casarez said.
Casarez could not be happier with her current position. “EWEB has been an innovative place to work, filled with the most forward-thinking and supportive coworkers,” Casarez said. “There are many projects on the horizon, and Water Operations is ready to tackle them all.”
Working in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) field, Casarez found that building trust with clients and coworkers was very important.
“As with any job, being knowledgeable and following through on commitments is crucial,” Casarez said.
Casarez would advise that aspiring scientists get their degrees and explore the water and utility fields. Water is a critical resource, but the industry is facing growing issues in supply and contamination. There is a great need for bright minds and new ideas.