Water Quality: Walk a Mile in Someone’s Shoes

By Jenny Potter

Working for the Division of Water Quality (DWQ) for the last two-and-a-half years as the office manager, I have been fortunate enough to work on several aspects of what we do here, including attending and preparing for board meetings, attending managers’ meetings and retreats, and helping get documents prepared and ready to be mailed out.

When it comes to the paperwork, I have a pretty firm idea of how and what we do. But looking at “why” has always been a question I could not actually answer. It takes “walking in someone else’s shoes” and seeing what it is like to protect this great state’s water. And I and my fellow office admins had that opportunity when we visited Willard Spur a few months ago.

If you look at the pictures, you can see it’s not a bad view at all for a day at the office! As I watched half of our team get on the airboat and head out to view Willard Spur, I was struck by how beautiful the water, the mountains, and the wetlands truly are. There were tons of tiny fish right near the shore, and we even had the chance to see pockets of fish eggs for the carp that live in the Spur. As I walked around and really looked at things, I saw another perspective of what we do here at DWQ.

As I stood there it hit me: this is what we do, this is what our team works so hard for, this is why we protect this amazing state we live in. Utah has so many amazing places, you literally just have to walk out your back door there are places just like this everywhere. I began to feel a sense of ownership in what I do for DWQ, that paperwork and those tasks that seem trivial aren’t trivial at all. The steps it takes to get a permit out, to protect water and species that live in the water — every single thing we do has an impact. From the monitors who check the water, the permit writers who get permits done, the staff in the office who make sure the paperwork is complete and accurate — all of it impacts how the waters are protected and how we serve our great state of Utah.

I was so proud to watch half of our team return from their trip out on the Spur, and see their faces of joy, because sitting behind a desk all day can become predictable and at times seem unimportant. Seeing how what we all do contributes to protecting these precious waters made each of us beam with pride — for the careers we have with DWQ, our dedication to our work, and how it truly does make a difference.

Next it was my turn to get out and see what the Spur was all about. I went out on the second ride, and as soon as the airboat was turned on I felt my view change for what I do for DWQ.

It was hot, very hot out there, and the temperature that day reached 100 degrees and climbing. We were there early enough that we didn’t hit the highest temps of the day, but I imagined the teams of men and woman who do this every day. I realized that my coworkers at DWQ have to go out to do their jobs no matter the time of year and face extreme heat and cold. They do it every day, no matter what, because they are dedicated to protecting the water and ensuring that we preserve this beautiful land for future generations.

Next time I sit at my desk to do the paperwork and prepare for a meeting, I will remember this trip that forever changed the way I view what our team does. We all have a stake in the differences we make in this amazing state, it doesn’t take much to pick up the garbage, keep things better than we found them, and make sure we are not dumping things into our water. Each step we can take help make the jobs of those protecting the water that much better. And I’m proud to be a part of it.

Want to learn more about what we do at DWQ? Visit our webpage to find out more about our programs to protect Utah’s waters.
Our DWQ admin team!

Our DWQ admin team! From left/top: Jenny Potter (Office Manager), Marsha Case (Archivist), Ilene Staker (Office Tech). Left/bottom: Office Techs Ally Gagon, Nicole Froula, and Paula Harvey. Photo credit: Lonnie Shull

I am the Executive Assistant for the Director or Water Quality (DWQ) as well as the division’s Support Staff Supervisor. I am a records officer and notary for the division, and I have been with DWQ for 2 years. Prior to working with DWQ, I worked for the Division of Child and Family Services and the Juvenile Justice System. I have a degree in Criminal Justice, but will have my BA in Business Management with an emphasis in human resources in the coming year. I love what I do, but love my family more, and anytime I can spend with them outside is time well spent. You can find me and my husband Jeremy and our children camping, hiking, fishing or any other outdoor recreational activity we can enjoy in our beautiful state!