The LRGPWWA General Manager reports directly to the Board of Directors and oversees three department managers: Operations, Finance & Projects.
Martin Lopez – General Manager
Martin G. Lopez is presently the General Manager for the Lower Rio Grande Public Water Works Authority; was the Registered Agent for the Lower Rio Grande Mutual Domestic Water Association; and was the General Manager of the Mesquite Mutual Domestic Water Consumers’ & Mutual Sewage Works Association during the merger. Martin has worked in the water and wastewater industry since 1987, working primarily in field operations for several small- and medium-size systems in South Central Dona Ana County. In addition, he was a technical assistance provider for the Rural Community Assistance Corporation promoting water and wastewater technical, managerial, and financial capacity to rural and small communities throughout New Mexico and the Western United States.
Martin has attended the Utility Management Institute in San Antonio and is a part-time instructor at the New Mexico State University (NMSU)-Dona Ana Community College’s Water Technology Program. He has a baccalaureate degree in Agriculture Business and Agriculture Economics from NMSU as well as two Associate’s Degrees in Water Technology and Business Technology.
Martin has served on several water industry boards and has been a member of many organizations to include the NM Utility Operator Certification Advisory Board; NM Drinking Water Advisory Group; NM Water and Wastewater Association; NM Water and Wastewater Association Southwest Section; NM Rural Water Association; American Water Works Association-Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association. He has certification in NM as both a Water Level IV and a Wastewater level IV operator.
Kathi Jackson – Finance Manager
I’m Kathi Montgomery Jackson and I have finally found my purpose in life. In 1997 I earned a BA in Accounting from NMSU and went to work in the banking industry. It didn’t take long to figure out this was just a job that paid the bills. After the birth of my second daughter I decided to be a stay at home mom and volunteer. I spent many blissful years volunteering with the public schools and Girl Scouts. When my kids decided they didn’t want me hanging out with them 24/7 I returned to work. I spent 2 years with the Philippou Group and got quite an education there before the economy forced them to downsize and kick me to the curb. I didn’t really have a clue what I wanted to do so I just started sending out resumes and going to interviews.
In October of 2010 I was encouraged to interview for the position of Finance Manager at Lower Rio Grande Public Water Works Authority. When I accepted the position I had no idea the impact it would have on my life. There is never a dull moment around here and there is always something new to learn. I get up every morning looking forward to going to the office to see what adventure waits and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
I have been with the Authority for 8 years now and gone on to earn a Masters Certificate in Public Utility Regulation and I am currently working on an MBA. I was appointed to the board of the South Central Council of Governments in 2011 and have made many new friends in state and local government. In 2014 I joined the board of La Pinion. I never dreamed I would end up in public service trying to improve the lives of fellow New Mexicans. Through my work as Finance Manager I have had the opportunity to attend several legislative sessions and learn how our state government operates. As a result I have taken a greater interest in politics and leadership and would someday like to run for Governor.
Karen Nichols – Projects Manager
Karen Nichols became the Projects Manager for the Lower Rio Grande PWWA with the initial merger in 2010. She served as Secretary/Treasurer and then Business Manager for the Desert Sands Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association from 1978 until 2010. Her experience with water system improvements projects began with the initial construction of the Desert Sands water system and included planning, funding and execution of a number of projects for pipeline replacement and upgrade and the addition of new wells, tanks, booster pumps, office building and treatment plants. She was a music major in college, so her training in the water & wastewater utility field includes a great many workshops (Rural Community Assistance Corp., Environmental Finance Center and others) and conferences and the Utility Management Institute Institute’s four-part course and post-graduate modules. With the Authority, her job focus has shifted entirely to projects, and the number and scope of projects have greatly expanded, and she now oversees a staff of two Projects Specialists.
The Projects Department handles funding applications; procurement of project professional engineering and related services and equipment; project administration including budgeting and reporting to funding agencies; coordinates project planning including annual updates of the Infrastructure Capital Improvements Plan, and coordinates and/or supports other planning efforts such as Source Water Protection, Water Auditing, 40-Year Water Plan, O&M Plan, Vulnerability Assessment & Emergency Response Plan, and Water Master Plan; manages content for the Authority website; provides support for the Board of Directors including preparation of agendas, minutes and board packets, public notifications, drafting of policy amendments, and refreshments for meetings; administers the Authority’s Documents Retention & Destruction Policy; assists with disposal of property under Authority policy; and provides support for other departments’ in-house projects as needed.
Mike Lopez – Operations Manager
I am currently the Operations Manager for the Lower Rio Grande Public Water Works Authority.
I have worked in the Water and Wastewater utilities since 1997. When I first started in this field my Forte was in Wastewater treatment at the Jake Hands Wastewater Facility for the City of Las Cruces. I started as a Coop and worked my way up as a maintenance mechanic from there I moved around the City utilities departments making my way back to Wastewater treatment plant as a senior operator. I also served as a Water and Wastewater operator for Picacho Hills Utility for a number of years which provided Water and Wastewater service to 1000 plus customers. In 2008 I Started working for the Mesquite Mutual Domestic Water Consumers and Mutual Sewage Works before the merger into the Lower Rio Grande PWWA.
I attended the Dona Ana Community College’s Water Technology Program in 1996 graduating in 1998, with an Associate’s Degree in Water Technology. I have attended the Utility Management Institute in San Antonio Texas.
I have served for a number of years at the New Mexico Water and Wastewater Association South west section as President and Coordinator. I am currently serving on the NM drinking water advisory board.