Join Tom Broadwell, an environmental specialist at Southern Company as he takes you through a typical working day. Tom explains water quality sampling at reservoirs and monitoring aquatic plants. For more information on real employees and real jobs in the energy business visit Southern Company.

With nearly 4.4 million customers and more than 42,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is a leading U.S. producer of electricity. Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states and has been listed the top ranking U.S. electric service provider in customer satisfaction for eight consecutive years by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). More about Southern Company



Tom Broadwell: Good morning. I’m Tom Broadwell. I’m an environmental specialist with the environmental affairs department. As an environmental specialist, my job entails two major areas within the company, and that’s water quality sampling on our reservoirs, and keeping track of aquatic plants.

In the water quality area we sample our reservoirs on a regular basis and have been doing so since 1992. That allows us to keep track of how productive our reservoirs are, which can tell us something about fisheries’ production. It can also tell us about how green the lake might be because of algae that grow in it. It’s also important for health reasons in case some of those algae are toxic. It also helps us in re-licensing our hydro-generation facilities. Well now we’re going to go calibrate one of our hydro-labs, it’s a water quality instrument that we use in the field.

Our water quality instrument consists of a probe, which will do a lot of different things. It will measure temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, specific conductance, and turbidity, and it also measures depth. Once we get information from the probe, it goes through this cable, and we can store it on this end of the probe. Once we get it back to the lab, we can take it off of here and store it digitally.

I enjoy my job because I get to work outside, although sometimes it’s not so much fun in the winter, or in the hot part of the summer, but it’s good to see a lot of things in nature. I enjoy coming to work every day.

Okay we’re headed outside to load our boat up now.

Okay now we’re at Morgan Falls Dam which backs up to Bull Sluice Reservoir, we’re going to put our boat in. Well it’s a little cool but it is a nice day, at least it’s sunny and the wind’s not blowing hard. I’ve worked for the company…it’ll be 25 years this coming August. This is a little tricky reservoir; right over there it’s about this deep. If you go flying across there, you’ll find out the hard way. Now we’re going to record what’s called a profile of temperature and dissolved oxygen, pH, specific conductance, and turbidity, from the surface down to the bottom. These samples are going to go back to the lab, we’ll turn those in and they’ll be analyzed for all the different constituents we’re looking for. And this is kind of a typical day for an environmental specialist with the environmental affairs department. We’ll see you next time. Hold on!

You don’t want to get too near this computer, because I think it’s haunted. It does weird things. Oh well, you can turn it off, you’re liable to break it anyhow.