Pulling The Curtain Back

Water Services Production Supervisor Juan Ramirez


The Man Who Keeps Santa Ana’s Water System Operating


It’s easy to take for granted that water flows from the tap. But how many people understand the process required to make that happen and keep Santa Ana’s water system afloat?


The Water Resources Division thrives on its commitment to delivering a reliable supply of water to Santa Ana residents. Operators work 24/7, monitoring every station to regulate water pressure and handle any emergencies that may arise.

“When things go wrong with a well pump or a power outage, my job is to get everything up and running so residents are not affected by an interruption in service or a drop in water pressure,” says Water Services Production Supervisor Juan Ramirez. “We plan for contingencies and have strategies to mitigate impact to residents, such as backup generators and operators who are on call.”


Water Production & Flow

Juan safeguards our water infrastructure and manages the production of water that supports the entire city. It’s a big job. He and his team operate and maintain Santa Ana’s complex system of 7 pumping stations, 10 reservoirs and 21 wells. They maintain the constant operation of all the pumping stations, which draw water from the reservoirs and directly into the city’s distribution system. Many of these pumping stations are equipped with variable-frequency drives (VFDs), which stabilize the pressure in the City’s water system, reducing the impact of any surges and the number of system breakdowns. 

They are responsible for tracking the city’s reservoir levels to ensure there is a 15% reserve for fire fighters. Using an instrument called a hydrostatic pressure transmitter and a SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system, operators remotely monitor all water facilities and sites for security, flows, pressures, valves and water quality. Juan understands the city’s system well. He served as an instrument technician and ran the SCADA system for 10 years before being promoted to Water Services Production Supervisor.


Water Quality

Juan and his team also manage onsite water chlorination generators to ensure the right level of disinfectant is added to groundwater to remove viruses as well as bacteria and other pathogens according to state and federal regulations. He and his team take meticulous care about of the biology of the water, he says, and its application. Proper levels of chlorine not only impact drinking water taste and odor, but is particularly important for people undergoing dialysis therapy.


Wastewater Conveyance

In addition to managing the operations of Santa Ana’s water production and water service, Juan oversees the city’s two lift systems. These lift systems pump wastewater into two main trunks that feed into the Santa Ana River Interceptor (SARI) Line, a 23-mile-long wastewater pipeline to the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) sewage treatment plant in Fountain Valley. 

“What keeps me up at night are those two lift stations,” adds Juan. “If there is a spill, sewage can back up into people’s homes.” It’s a responsibility and a commitment that Juan takes seriously, like being a good father. 

Born in Jalisco, Mexico and raised in East Los Angeles, Juan is a father to five daughters— four who have completed college and the youngest who is on her way. He takes pride in being able to support their higher education goals, recognizing the importance of college in advancing their careers. With the support of his supervisor, Nabil Saba, Juan decided to continue his education 13 years ago and pursue a degree in electrical engineering and instrumentation. 

He has earned certifications by the State of California State Water Resources Control Board in water distribution and water treatment, as well as an electrical/instrumentation certification by the California Water Environmental Association. He also attended Santiago Canyon Community College and completed a Water Utility Science certificate program. 

“I’m thankful to the City of Santa Ana for all their support and to my family for being there for me. Now is the time to focus my energy on becoming a great supervisor and giving the Santa Ana residents the best of me,” he says.